Mark Twain’s grave robbed of bronze plaque

Mark Twain's plaque on his grave marker was stolen in late December.
(Jason Whong / Associated Press)
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Some time between Christmas and New Year’s, someone visited Mark Twain’s grave in Elmira, N.Y. Instead of showing their respects, they pried off a plaque with the likeness of the writer who died 105 years ago.

Twain, born Samuel Clemens in 1835, is one of America’s most beloved writers. The author of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” was a humorist, satirist, and popular public speaker who often appeared wearing a white suit.

Twain was buried with his wife’s family at Woodlawn Cemetery in a grave marked by a 12-foot tall granite marker. 12 feet is two fathoms, the measure called out by riverboat captains as “mark twain,” from which Twain took his pen name.


A one-foot square portrait of Twain, rendered in bronze, was attached toward the top of the marker. It’s there no more.

“Somebody had to bring in a ladder,” local historian Jim Hare told the Star-Gazette.

The plaque was made and fixed to the grave in 1937. “I guess we were lucky no one touched it for so long,” Elmira City Historian Diane Janowski told the paper.

“I have been watching eBay, and it hasn’t been on there,” she added.

In addition to his grave, Twain fans have other options if they’d like to pay tribute to the author. The Mark Twain House and Museum in West Hartford, Conn., is open to the public, as is the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Mo.

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