I am an avid reader, and as much as I love history and historical research, I cannot pass up good literature. As a teacher of California history, I advise you to read the works of Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain). They are a true slice of Early America as well as an extremely fun read. But what a lot of people don’t know is that he was also very much into Spiritualism and how an accident when he was a younger man turned this quick-witted genius into a believer of the paranormal.
The year was 1858, Samuel and his brother Henry were working as steersmen on a river boat named the Pennsylvania that traveled from St Louis to New Orleans. Samuel helped Henry get the job on the packet and they were inseparable.
One night, Samuel woke from a prophetic dream. He dreamed he saw his brother lying in a metal coffin, wearing one of Samuel’s suits. The coffin was placed upon two chairs and on his brother’s chest was a wreath of white roses with a red rose in the center of the wreath. At the time of his dream, Samuel was in New Orleans while his brother was on board the Pennsylvania. Before the steamboat had departed without him, Twain had advised Henry that he should not lose his head in case of trouble. “Leave that to the unwisdom of the passengers,” he told him. He urged Henry that, after seeing to the safety of the women and the children, he should swim for shore himself. Twain knew how common accidents were and he wanted to make sure that Henry would not do anything foolhardy.
Just a few days after the boat left New Orleans, the boiler exploded. Samuel was able to make it quickly to Memphis, close to where the accident happened, and found his brother, gravely wounded in a hospital. Sadly though, his wounds were not what caused the death of Henry, but an accidental overdose of morphine by an inexperienced doctor. The funeral expenses were paid for by a local Memphis Women’s Group for all the victims of the disaster. All of the coffins for the victims were made of white pine. Henry’s though, was made of metal. He was, as in the dream, wearing one of Samuel’s suits. When Samuel was sitting next to his brother’s body, an elderly woman walked past and placed a wreath of white roses on Henry’s chest, complete with the single red rose at the center, completing his prophetic dream.
Samuel Clemens had many other prophetic dreams and he explored what he called “thought transference”, which reading how he described it, comes off as a sense of clairvoyance. He will later join the Psychical Research Society in 1885. Over the years, Clemens will have many brushes with what he admits may be paranormal in nature, including feeling odd cold spots and other phenomena surrounding the passing of loved ones.
Mark Twain. American humorist, newspaperman, paranormal investigator.