Trouble Begins Lecture Series Continues with New York Literary Landmark Plaque Dedication

May 01 2017
Category: Twain

Quarry Farm Fall

The 2016-2017 The Trouble Begins Lecture Series continues May 3 at Quarry Farm with the lecture and a special plaque dedication ceremony honoring the recent designation of Quarry Farm as a New York Literary Landmark.  The ceremony and lecture is free and open to the public.

The evening begins with tours of the grounds at 5:00 p.m., followed by the plaque dedication and light refreshments.  The Trouble Begins lecture begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Barn at Quarry Farm and features independent scholar Barbara Jones Brown and her presentation, “Roughing It: Twain’s Take on Brigham Young, Polygamy, and the Mountain Meadows Massacre.” 

In 1861, young Samuel Clemens gave up his job as a Mississippi riverboat pilot and departed St. Louis to venture west. He traveled with his older brother, Orion, the new secretary of the recently created Nevada Territory. Samuel sought his fortune in the West through mining, but discovered his future instead through his writing, under the pen name Mark Twain. In his 1871, travel narrative Roughing It, Twain famously wrote of his passing through Utah, including his observations of Brigham Young, Mormon polygamy, and the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre in southern Utah. This presentation looks at the circumstances that led to Twain’s writing Roughing It at Quarry Farm and compares his humorous reminiscences with what actually happened on his 1861 journey, based on historical sources.

Barbara Jones Brown is an independent historian of the American West. She is currently at work on a volume about the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre, in which Mormon militiamen slaughtered a California-bound wagon train of Arkansas emigrants in southern Utah. This forthcoming volume, published by Oxford University Press, will include research Brown conducted, as a Quarry Farm Fellow, on Twain’s 1861 visit to Utah and his observations on the massacre. Brown holds an M.A. in American History from the University of Utah. She lives in Park City, Utah.