CLEMENS, SAMUEL LANGHORNE ("Mark Twain"). Document signed ("Sam. L. Clemens," and "Samuel L. Clemens" in the text), the handwritten portion of the document ENTIRELY IN CLEMENS'S HAND (totalling about 100 words), countersigned by F.K. Bechtel, Notary ...
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CLEMENS, SAMUEL LANGHORNE ("Mark Twain"). Document signed ("Sam. L. Clemens," and "Samuel L. Clemens" in the text), the handwritten portion of the document ENTIRELY IN CLEMENS'S HAND (totalling about 100 words), countersigned by F.K. Bechtel, Notary Public, and a clerk in the County Recorder's office who certified the document, [Aurora, Mono County, California], 7 August 1862. 3 pages, folio, pale blue paper on a partly printed form with imprint "Mining Deed--No.1, Towne & Bacon, Printers, San Francisco," consisting of the indenture page with printed text plus Twain's additions, signed at bottom; the certification page on verso, signed by Bechtel and bearing his green paper notary's seal; docket page with recording clerk's notes . MARK TWAIN SELLS HIS MINING SHARES TO BECOME A FULL-TIME AUTHOR: AN EXCEPTIONALLY EARLY RECORD OF TWAIN IN THE GOLD CAMPS A rare record of a crucial turning point in the 26-year-old author's career: his decision to abandon gold speculation to become a reporter with the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise , a frontier newspaper which had begun publishing humorous letters by Clemens under the pen-name "Josh." By this indenture "Samuel L. Clemens of Mono Co., Cal.," agrees to sell to "George Turner, of Carson City, Nevada Territory" for $1,000 his interests in "certain veins or lodes of rock containing precious metals...gold and silver bearing quartz, rock and earth therein." In the blank space provided Clemens has carefully listed the shares (measured by feet) in 15 different claims (the names of which reflect the geographic origin of the prospectors): "Fifty (50) feet in the Sciola; 62 1/2 in "Ottawa;" Fifty (50) in the "Allamoocha"; 6 1/4 in 1st Ex. S. "Winnomucca;" 25 feet in the "Tom Thumb;" 50 in the "Fresno;" 12 1/2 feet in the "Horatio;" 100 feet in the 1st N.E.Ex. Fresno;" 50 feet in the "Rosetta;" 100 in the "Potomac;" 12 1/2 in the "Daniel Boone"; 12 1/2 feet in the "Boston"; 12 1/2 in the "Great Mogul;" 12 1/2 in the "Long Island;" 25 feet in the "Mountain Flower." According to the Mark Twain Project, which holds some forty mining deeds involving Clemens, only two have any portion of the text in Clemens's hand; another example is preserved in the Vassar College Library. This document is then the only mining deed in Clemens's handwriting still in private hands. Samuel Clemens had come west from Missouri the previous year with his brother Orion, who Lincoln had appointed Secretary to the territorial governor of Nevada. Sam was to serve as Orion's assistant for a salary of $8 a day, but was soon drawn to the rowdy, booming mining town of Aurora (whether it was part of California or Nevada was in dispute at this date). Gold fever raged in Aurora, and with funds contributed by his brother, Clemens plunged into the rampant speculation in mine shares (measured in feet of ore-bearing veins or ledges) of the many gold strikes being made in the local hills. Sam bought shares in numerous mines in the Esmeralda district, including the very promising "Wild West Blind," which he and his partners lost when they failed to work the claim within the ten days required by law. "The Clemens brothers began investing...in the Esmeralda district in September 1861, and eventually owned feet, nominally worth $5,000, in at least thirty different ledges there. They never realized anything like the face value of their holdings..." ( Mark Twain's Letters, ed. Branch et al, 1:187fn). In later years, Orion Clemens recalled that all their shares "proved to be worthless, and our money was thrown away." Clemens's debts mounted. While in Aurora, he had written letters to the Keokuk, Iowa, paper the Gate City , and others, under the pen-name "Josh" for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise , the major newspaper of the sparsely settled region. In late July William Barstow, editor of the Territorial Enterprise , offered Clemens a post as local reporter at a salary of $25 a week. "This offer...was a tribute to the talent fo
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