Our final day while camping at Ray Behrens campground was spent in Florida, Missouri. This is the tiny town where the Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site is located.
The whole reason I wanted to go to Ray Behrens in the first place, was to see the actual place where Mark Twain was born. Though I’ve lived in Missouri my whole life, I’d never been there, and now was the time to change that.
Because of the pandemic, we had a set day and time to visit the state historic site which is surrounded by Mark Twain State Park. We arrived a bit early and spent a few moments enjoying the view on Clara’s Point. This scenic overlook is named for Mark Twain’s daughter, Clara.
At 1:00 p.m. we went inside the building named, “The Mark Twain Memorial Shrine.” Here we were greeted by friendly, welcoming staff. After giving us some general information and answering my questions, the staff person started a 20 minute movie about Mark Twain’s life.
After the movie, we viewed the humble cabin which is housed inside the building. This cabin had been rented by Mark Twain’s family, and they lived there for just one year. So, probably the only thing Mark Twain did there was crawl around on the floor, but it was enough to give this tiny town its legacy. Inside the cabin, there is one piece of original furniture which is the pineapple post bed.
Of course, I can’t recreate in my blog post all that is the experience of visiting this historic site. But, I hope to share just a bit of it, including a few facts that stuck with me.
- Right before he was born, Mark Twain’s family came from Tennessee to Florida, Missouri. It’s likely the family traveled through St. Charles, Missouri on Salt River Road to Florida, Missouri. We live very close to Salt River Road in St. Charles.
- At the time Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) was born, his family owned a slave, a teenage girl that had been brought from Tennessee.
- As a young man, Mark Twain joined a Missouri Militia group which had sympathies for the South. However, when this group heard Ulysses S. Grant was headed their way, the group disbanded.
- When he was 35 (1870), Mark Twain married, Olivia Langdon, and his father-in-law, Jervis Langdon, happened to be a major leader in the underground railroad.
- Mark Twain later wrote “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, perhaps one of the strongest anti-slavery books ever written.
Besides the cabin, there are a number of artifacts and displays in the shrine. Some items are from Mark’s Twain’s life, and other displays recreate the time period during which he lived.
The town has a granite marker on the exact spot where the cabin was originally located. And, of course, I wanted to see that marker. It’s just a short drive from the Mark Twain Memorial Shrine building.
Also, nearby is the Florida Cemetery. And while I can’t outdo Bill who recently visited Mark Twain’s grave in Elmira, New York, I can now say I visited the grave of Mark Twain’s sister, Margaret.
Also buried in this small cemetery is John Quarles – Mark Twain’s uncle, his aunt, Patsy, and Dr. Thomas Chowning, the doctor who brought Samuel Clemens into the world. Since it was a really hot day, we only took the time to find his sister Margaret’s grave.
After visiting the Florida Cemetery, we cheered ourselves up by going to a place named Buzzard’s Roost in Mark Twain State Park.
And that, my dear readers, is where I shall let this post land. Until the next time when I will wrap up the Ray Behrens camping experience.