• Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it


I was driving through New York State on vacation recently and passing Elmira, New York. I learned that it was the burial place of Mark Twain. Do you know why? Of all the places I associate with Twain, Elmira is not one of them. Also, do you know why Charles Lindbergh is buried in Hana, Maui?

-- Steve, back home from vacation

Lindbergh spent a lot of time trying to attract attention, then moved to Hawaii to get away from too much attention. Besides, he was born in Detroit, and who wouldn't rather spend eternity in Hana. Sam Clemens's family blew out of Hannibal, Missouri, when he was a young man, so other than two relatives in a cemetery, he didn't have much connection to the town as an adult. He wasn't even born there. Every other place he visited, he was just passing through. During a speaking stop in New York City, he met a charmer from Elmira and eventually married her. Her daddy was rich, he owned a big house, they lived in it off and on for decades, and Clemens wrote a bunch of famous books there. He outlived his wife and kids, all of whom were buried in Elmira, so they stowed him there too. If Twain's lucky, he may be joined one day by Tommy Hilfiger, who's also from the area.

Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch Samossoud Lives!

Hey, Matt: If I remember correctly, a daughter of Mark Twain was living at the Bahia Hotel in the early ’70s. If that’s true, he didn’t outlive all of his children. — Becky Thatcher, San Diego

Tales of her death were greatly exaggerated. Right you are, Becky. Clemens outlived his wife, two daughters, and a son. The third daughter, Clara, moved to L.A. late in life, where she met her second husband, who had recently changed his occupation from opera conductor to gambler. She sold off some of Twain’s legacy to pay his debts, then decided life would be even sweeter if they lived closer to the racetracks at Del Mar and Caliente. In the 1950s they moved to La Jolla, then to the Bahia Hotel, where he burned through more of the Twain money, and she sat in her room writing a book about Christian Science. She died at the Bahia at age 88 on November 19, 1962. She (and her daughter, who died in Los Angeles four years later) are buried with Twain et al. in Elmira, New York.

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from SDReader


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!