Submitted by scott on Fri, 03/13/2020 - 12:38

This may not be Sam's first departure from home.  David Fears reports that in the summer of 1845 Sam stowed away on a steamboat headed south. He was found by a crewmember and put ashore thirty miles down river, at the town of Louisiana, Mo. There he spent the night with Lampton relatives. The next day they returned him home.

May 26, 1853 Thursday – Sam was thinking about leaving Hannibal by this time, and New York may have already been his desired destination, but he spoke only of St. Louis to his mother.

Sometime in the first two weeks of June 1853, Samuel L. Clemens (aged seventeen) left his home and family in Hannibal, Missouri, for the first time, stopping initially in St. Louis and then going on to New York City, supporting himself as a journeyman printer in both places. Precisely when Clemens boarded the regular evening packet for St. Louis is not known: in his autobiography he said simply that he “disappeared one night and fled to St. Louis” . On 26 October 1853, however, he mentioned that he had first departed Hannibal “more than four months ago” . Since it would have been exactly four months on that day if he had left Hannibal on 26 June, Clemens himself seems to place his departure in the early weeks of that month.

"Editorial narrative preceding 24 August 1853 to Jane Lampton Clemens ".

August 19 to 24, 1853 – At 8 AM, Friday Sam boarded a boat and started a journey by train and boat to New York. He did not tell his mother about the trip, which took about five days. From St. Louis to Alton, Ill,  Springfield, Bloomington, Ind., LaSalle,  Chicago,   Monroe, Michigan on the Northern Indiana and Michigan Southern railroads. In his letter he wrote he traveled from Chicago to Monroe, Michigan “ across Lake Erie to Buffalo, then to  Albany and  New York. Sam arrived in New York City at 5 AM with “two or three dollars in his pocket and a ten-dollar bill concealed in the lining of his coat”. 



Sometime in May or June of 1853 seventeen year old Sam Clemens left home for the first time. He departed the small Mississippi River town of Hannibal, Missouri, later reflected in stories of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, boarded a packet steamer bound for St. Louis, and began a life of travel. Packet steamers were vessels that transported both freight and passengers. Some packets were faster but not so reliable; some were larger but also slower; some were more luxurious, but carried less freight.


Sam wrote his mother   with a somewhat backhanded apology for shocking her at his destination. He then described an exhibit of what would later become “the wild men of Borneo,” and a brief mention of the Crystal Palace and the Marble Palace. Sam found lodging in a mechanics’ boarding house on Duane Street.

Description of the City:

Philadelphia is one of the healthiest places in the Union. The air is pure and fresh—almost like the country. The deaths for the week are 147.

From March of 1854 to April of 1857, Sam is back in Hannibal and Keokuk until he escapes down the river again. From April of 1857 to May of 1861 he learns the river and becomes a skilled river pilot, until the Civil War robs him of his profession. He heads west and becomes Mark Twain