Sam & Family

When Sam's wife, Livy, died in 1904, Sam turned to Richard and Helena for support. "She was our life and now we are nothing," he wrote Richard. He asked and was given an extra cottage at Four Brooks Farm for his family's use during the summer. The Gilders were there if they needed company. Sam stayed with them and made trips to New York City off on on to make arrangements to rent a house there in the fall.

To R. W. Gilder, in New York:

VILLA DI QUARTO, FLORENCE, June 7, '04. DEAR GILDER FAMILY,--I have been worrying and worrying to know what to do: at last I went to the girls with an idea: to ask the Gilders to get us shelter near their summer home. It was the first time they have not shaken their heads. So to-morrow I will cable to you and shall hope to be in time.

An, hour ago the best heart that ever beat for me and mine went silent out of this house, and I am as one who wanders and has lost his way. She who is gone was our head, she was our hands. We are now trying to make plans--we: we who have never made a plan before, nor ever needed to. If she could speak to us she would make it all simple and easy with a word, and our perplexities would vanish away. If she had known she was near to death she would have told us where to go and what to do: but she was not suspecting, neither were we. (She had been chatting cheerfully a moment before, and in an instant she was gone from us and we did not know it. We were not alarmed, we did not know anything had happened. It was a blessed death--she passed away without knowing it.) She was all our riches and she is gone: she was our breath, she was our life and now we are nothing.

We send you our love--and with it the love of you that was in her heart when she died. S. L. CLEMENS.


"A weary waste without her?" Ah, but think!
You who were blest with the most sweet, most near
Knowledge of that high nature; who could drink
At her fresh spirit's fountain, year by year--
What were the past without her? And her dear
Image and memory-- did they, too, sink
Into the abyss?-- Herself was your, and here
Still lives remembrance; a bright golden link
'Twixt this, the visible world, and the unknown
Toward which we journey-- where she doth now live,
Close to the Eternal One. Make then no moan;
What else may pass, this twofold gift endures;
Give thanks, and mourn not, then.-- But, O, forgive!
How can I chide who mix my tears with yours?

-Richard Watson Gilder

"Jean [Clemens] always found country life restorative and especially welcomed the opportunity to go riding. She was out on a moonlight ride on July 31 [1904] with the Gilders' son Rodman when a trolley car spooked her horse. Trolley, horse and girl collided. The horse was killed, and Jean was flung fifty feet and knocked unconscious. Though badly bruised, her only serious injury was a broken ankle that kept her in bed for a fortnight. The newspapers reported: 'It is hoped that Mark Twain's youngest daughter, Jean, may live. Her horse fell on her and crushed her."

from "Dangerous Intimacy" by Karen Lystra

Jean had epilepsy. After Livy's death, Jean was sent to a sanitarium in Katonah, New York in 1906 and remained there three years. Richard and Sam were close friends and saw each other socially in New York City. Richard died before Sam and Sam bemoaned his absence.


In late fall of 1900, the Clemens returned to live in in New York City. Clara, Sam's daughter, was seeing Ossip Gabrilowitsch, a concert pianist. The young couple were at the Gilders' things a bit. Richard had taken it upon himself to compose little ditties about his guests one evening. This was Clara's:


A terrible earthquake shook the land,
Inquisitive Clara was quickly at hand;
The experts prepared to measure the spasm--
But Clara's nose was first in the chasm.