Having discovered the futility of trying to make a fortune mining for silver and gold, Sam took a job as a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise and became Mark Twain. He remained in Nevada until May of 1864 then departed for San Francisco. In December of 1864 he headed for the hills, Jackass Hill, and learned about Jumping Frogs. Returning to San Francisco in February of 1865, he decided that working as a daily reporter was too tedious but did find an assignment to write letters from the Sandwich Islands. This would ultimately lead to his becoming a lecturer and his next career.
Mining Excursions, More Feet, Backbreaking Labor – Esmeralda – Aurora
Josh Letters Yielded Offer –Territorial Enterprise Reporter
Goodman, McCarthy, De Quille &The Boys – Petrified Man Hoax
Covering the Territorial Legislature
August, late – Sam arrived at the Virginia City Enterprise, a “small rickety frame building at the
corner of A Street and Sutton Avenue,” [Fatout, MT in VC 11] (later a large brick building on C Street)
to take the job. According to Paine, Sam claimed he walked the 130 miles from Aurora and arrived in
the afternoon of a “hot, dusty August day” and drawled to Denis E. McCarthy (1840-1885) one of the
“My starboard leg seems to be unshipped. I’d like about one hundred yards of line; I think I am falling
September 9 Tuesday – Sam wrote from Aurora, California/Nevada Territory to Billy Clagett,
congratulating him on being elected to represent Humboldt County in the Territorial Legislature.
Most of his letter deals with “the disgusting subject” of the Civil War and its losses. In part:
For more than two weeks I have been slashing around in the White Mountain District, partly for
pleasure and partly for other reasons. And old Van Horn was in the party. He knows your daddy and
September 16 Tuesday – Sam’s article, “ANOTHER INNOCENT MAN KILLED,” appeared in the
Territorial Enterprise. Since the shooting was on Sunday and the paper did not print on Mondays,
Marleau thinks this Tuesday was “likely the first day Samuel L. Clemens reported for the Territorial
Enterprise” [“Some Early” 12].
October 1 Wednesday – “The Indian Troubles on the Overland Route,” attributed to Sam, ran in the
Local Column of the Enterprise. The article was about an Indian attack on emigrants [Fatout, MT in
VC 12]. Sam later mentioned such an exaggerated approach to the news in his first days on the paper.
Nearly all copies of the Enterprise for the period Sam worked there have been lost, but many papers in
the West borrowed and reprinted from other newspapers. This article was reprinted on Oct. 5 by the
October 2–6 Monday – From the Enterprise:
Translated – If a man’s sign blowing heavenward is a proof of it, than Justice Atwill was translated
yesterday, and is doubtless holding Court in Paradise this morning for his shingle, bearing the legend
“Justice,” was seen sailing over the Summit of Mount Davidson [Marleau, “Some Early” 12].
October 4 Saturday – The hoax known as “The Petrified Man” ran in the Enterprise, and was re-
printed by many newspapers in the West—some swallowed it whole, and some, after a few days, saw
the joke [Fatout, MT Speaks 4; Mack 213].
October 12 Sunday – Orion’s wife Mollie arrived in Carson City with their seven-year-old daughter,
Jennie Clemens, after a steamer trip to San Francisco a week before. Sam was still in Virginia
City [MTL 1: 242n1].
October 13–16 Thursday – An article of Sam’s, title missing, appeared in the Enterprise:
William Young of Long Valley arrived in Virginia, lately, with a drove of cattle, sold the same, and put
the proceeds in his saddlebags and the saddlebags on his horse. He then adjourned to the dance house,
and having partaken of the sinful pleasures of that place, he came back and found that somebody had
carried off saddlebags, money and all during his absence. The fact of his leaving the horse and
October 20 Monday – Mollie Clemens and daughter and Jennie arrived in San Francisco and were
met by Orion. They left immediately for Carson [MTP card file quotes Mack]. Sam was aware of
their arrival, as he wrote to them the next day.
October 21 Tuesday – Sam wrote from Virginia City to Orion & Mollie about how he made up the
story “Petrified Man?” which several newspapers took as an actual scientific discovery. “I got it up to
worry Sewall,” he wrote. G.T. Sewall was a judge of Humboldt County who was antagonistic toward
Sam, probably over some governmental duties of Orion, and had withheld information from reporters
in an officious and irritating way [MTL 1: 241].
October, late – Sam wrote up his visit to the Spanish Mine and it was published in the Enterprise as
“The Spanish Mine.” No copies of the Enterprise for that time are extant, but estimates from reprints
make this time probable. An excerpt:
THE SPANISH MINE
This comprises one hundred feet of the great Comstock lead, and is situated in the midst of the Ophir
claims. We visited it yesterday, in company with Mr. Kingman, Assistant Superintendent, and our
November to December – Sam neglected his letter writing for this period and continued to work as a
reporter for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise.
November 1–7 Friday – Local Column, Enterprise, two items from Sam: “Silver Bricks” and
“Building Lots” (Text recovered by Michael Marleau from reprinting in The Mining and Scientific
Press of Nov. 8, 1862) [Marleau, “Some Early” 12].
November 1–10 Monday – Sam follows up: LOCAL COLUMN
THE PETRIFIED MAN. – Mr. Herr Weisnicht has just arrived in Virginia City from the
Humboldt mines and regions beyond. He brings with him the head and one foot of the petrified man,
lately found in the mountains near Gravelly Ford. A skillful assayer has analyzed a small portion of
dirt found under the nail of the great toe and pronounces the man to have been a native of the
Kingdom of New Jersey. As a trace of “speculation” is still discernible in the left eye, it is thought the
November 11 to December 20 Saturday – The second Territorial Legislature of Nevada was in
session. Sam covered the session. According to Henry Nash Smith, “It is not clear how often he
mailed dispatches back to Virginia City, but by bringing together two passages from his reminiscences one may infer that he sent a daily factual report and a weekly letter of a more personal and humorous
November 14 Friday – On the fourth day of the Legislative proceedings, The Speaker of the House
announced as reporters entitled to seats, Clement T. Rice, of the Virginia City Daily Union; Samuel
L. Clemens, Territorial Enterprise; and Andrew J. Marsh of the Sacramento Union [Marsh 451].
November 30 Sunday – Sam’s 27 th birthday.
December 5 Friday – One of Sam’s weekly letters, “Letter from Carson City” was dated this day and
printed sometime in December in the Enterprise [Smith 35]. The letter included: “Alford vs. Dewing,”
“Internal Improvements,” and “Williams Map.” Sam was the “Committee” in the first extant weekly
REPORT ON WILLIAMS MAP
Your committee, consisting of a solitary but very competent individual, to whom was referred Col.
Williams’ road from a certain point to another place, would beg most respectfully to report:
December 12 Friday – Another of Sam’s Weekly, “Letter from Carson City” was dated this day and
printed sometime in December in the Enterprise [Smith 38].
The ladies have not smiled much on this Legislature, so far. Thirty-two of our loveliest visited the
halls night before last, though, which is an encouraging symptom. I cannot conscientiously say they
smiled, however, for the Revenue bill was before the House…The ladies were well pleased with the
night session, though—they enjoyed it exceedingly—in many respects it was much superior to a
December 13–19 Friday – Sam’s article “The Pah-Utes” is published sometime between these dates
in the Enterprise, and reprinted in the Marysville, California Appeal for Dec. 21.
Ah, well – it is touching to see these knotty and rugged old pioneers—who have beheld Nevada in her
infancy, and toiled through her virgin sands unmolested by toll-keepers; and prospected her unsmiling
hills, and knocked at the doors of her sealed treasure vaults; and camped with her horned-toads, and
December 16 Tuesday ca. – An article attributed to Sam that was reprinted Dec. 18 in the Sacramento
Daily Bee ran in the Enterprise. Sam was in Carson City and reported on the excitement of the hotly
December 19 Friday – By legislative act, Sam was made recording secretary of the Washoe
Agricultural, Mining and Mechanical Society. The position paid $300 per year. He served until the
completion of the society’s fair in Oct. 1863 [MTL 1: 266].
December 23 Tuesday – Sam’s article dated Dec. 23 ran in the Enterprise sometime later in the
month. It was republished in the Placer Weekly Courier of Forest Hill, Placer County on Jan. 17, 1863.
A BIG THING IN WASHOE CITY OR THE GRAND BULL DRIVERS’ CONVENTION
Carson, Midnight December 23d.
On the last night of the session, Hon. Thomas Hannah announced that a Grand Bull Drivers’
Convention would assemble in Washoe City, on the 22d, to receive Hon. Jim Sturtevant and the other