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Volume 1, Issue 3, June 24, 2016
This issue features historic house museums of two of Missouri's most famous authors: Mark Twain and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Twain was born in Missouri and grew up in Hannibal, a small town on the banks of the Mississippi River. Wilder, her husband and daughter, moved to Mansfield, MO, where they bought Rocky Ridge Farm. This was where she wrote the Little House on the Prairie books.

Cynthia Collins
Cynthia Collins  
Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum
The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal, MO, consists of several buildings near the banks of the Mississippi River that were part of the author's life. In his novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Twain, whose real name was Samuel Clemens, used fictionalized accounts of actual events, people, and locations from his childhood. For example, the white picket fence next to his house was famously painted by neighborhood kids as Tom Sawyer supervised.

Mark Twain Boyhood Home & MuseumOther buildings include the homes of the real-life inspirations of Becky Thatcher and Huckleberry Finn, the office where Twain's father served as justice of the peace, an 1840's drugstore, and museum exhibits. A statue of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn stands at the base of Cardiff Hill, facing the museum properties. All of this is approximately two blocks from the riverfront where a statue of Twain standing at the wheel of a steamboat honors his time as a riverboat pilot.

Visitors can experience the Mississippi aboard a riverboat, imagining the adventures of Tom and Huck as they set out on a raft or of Twain at the wheel. Visitors can also see the lighthouse at the top of Cardiff Hill that was inspired by the widow Douglas in Tom Sawyer who kept a lamp burning in her window to guide steamboat pilots. The Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse was erected as a memorial to Twain but never used for navigation.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum in Mansfield, MO, is where the children's author wrote her Little House books.The Wilders moved to the small Missouri town in 1894 and bought 200 acres which they named Rocky Ridge Farm because of the rocky land. They had two homes on the farm: the farmhouse and another called the Rock House that was built later as a gift from Rose to her parents. The Little House books were written in both homes.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & MuseumVisitors can see Wilder's handwritten manuscripts and her writing desk. Outdoor events held on the grounds include the annual Wilder Days festival and fiddle contest in September. The museum though is not just about Wilder as an author, but also as a pioneer woman. She did not start writing the Little House books until she was in her 60s. Among her various jobs were a teacher, journalist, editor, activist, and others.

Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) lived to be 90 years old. During her lifetime, she saw a lot of changes and inventions. She wrote about what life was like before modern advances in medicine, technology, etc., and, as a result, preserved that history for others.
Recent Articles...

Mark Twain on the Mississippi River

Mark TwainMark Twain, the American author and humorist, grew up a short walk from the Mississippi River in Hannibal, MO. The river, with its constant yet ever changing course, provided a perfect outlet for the young boy’s imagination and sense of adventure. Before he became one of the world’s best-known authors, he was a Mississippi riverboat pilot. ...Continue reading-->

Seamen's Bethel: Chapel for Mariners in Fact and Fiction

Seamen's Bethel and Mariners' HomeSeamen’s Bethel, a chapel in New Bedford, MA, was built in 1832 as a non-denominational house of worship for mariners who were either preparing for or returning from whaling expeditions. In addition to its role as a spiritual anchor, it served as a memorial with historical records of those who lost their lives at sea. ...Continue reading-->
The Unicorn Tree
The Unicorn Tree by Cynthia Collins

A teenage girl whose brother is lost at sea –

The diary of a nineteenth-century woman –

And the special place that binds them…

For reviews, excerpts, and summary, see

Now on the 2016 Summer Reading List of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) under the section for grades 9-12.

Ghost story and maritime adventure...
Available at
Photo credits: Mark Twain Boyhood Home: courtesy of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum. Seamen's Bethel and Mariners' Home: NPS photo/Cara Pearson.

All articles in this newsletter are by Cynthia Collins. The featured historic site section contains general information. The other articles may not be reprinted without written permission. Subscriber lists are not sold or given to any third parties and historic sites are not charged for being featured. To suggest historic sites for future issues, request article reprint permission, or any comments/questions regarding this newsletter, please contact Cynthia Collins.
Copyright © 2016 Cynthia Collins, All rights reserved.

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