Submitted by scott on Wed, 10/13/2021 - 00:12
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Samuel L. Clemens was born in the small village of Florida but the family soon moved to the town of Hannibal, Missouri. After a Tom Sawyer childhood, at the age of seventeen Sam set out to see the world supporting himself as a restless journeyman printer.

Possibly the best sources for learning about Twain's Hannibal Years are "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn".  For an analysis of this time see "Huck Finn's America", subtitled "Mark Twain and the Era that shaped his Masterpiece" by Andrew Levy.

Sam never truly left Hannibal—he carried it in his heart and memory and poured it out into The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Hannibal in those pages would become a universal boyhood home, an icon like the man himself. Sam would visit again in 1882 to gather material for Life on the Mississippi, and the last time in 1902. In many ways Sam Clemens would always be the boy of Hannibal—his wife Livy would call him “youth.”

One aspect of Sam Clemens' youth that intruded itself into his and his brother, Orion's life, was his fathers purchase of "The Tennessee Land".   John Marshall Clemens may have acquired a tract as large as forty thousand acres in a single transaction, but he also bought numerous smaller parcels, beginning as early as 1826 and continuing until at least 1841. In 1857, ten years after his death, the family had ownership records for twenty-four tracts of unknown acreage. After surveying the land in 1858, Orion concluded that he could establish title to some 30,000 acres, less than half of the 75,000 acres that Clemens estimates here.  "[The Tennessee Land]: note for 61.1–3," in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1. 2010 

I was born the 30th of November, 1835, in the almost invisible village of Florida, Monroe county, Missouri. I suppose Florida had less than three hundred inhabitants. It had two streets, each a couple of hundred yards long; the rest of the avenues mere lanes, with rail fences and corn fields on either side. Both the streets and the lanes were paved with the same material—tough black mud, in wet times, deep dust in dry.
Marshall Clemens sold his holdings in Monroe County and purchased a city block in Hannibal with a hotel on it, the Virginia House. Located at the corner of Main Street and Hill, Marshall opened a store on the premises.
Hannibal by 1844 took pride in four general stores, three sawmills, two planing mills, three blacksmith shops, two hotels, three saloons, two churches, two schools, a tobacco factory, a hemp factory, and a tan yard, as well as a flourishing distillery up at the still house branch. West of the village lay “Stringtown,” so called because its cabins and stock pens were strung out along the road. Small industry was the lifeblood of the town.
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