Hannibal is famous because it is the boyhood home of Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain. We had the good fortune of visiting during the annual Tom Sawyer Days celebration. More on that later. Tom Sawyer and Mark Twain have a larger than life presence in Hannibal.
Samuel Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri but moved to Hannibal as a little kid. Well, his family moved to Hannibal and Sam tagged along with them. That's the boyhood home of Samuel Clemens in the top picture, a few respectable blocks away from the river and across the street from Mr. Clemens law office. Becky Thatcher's house is just up the street!
I had to blow up the plaque because it fascinates me. Much Andy Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina has transformed itself to become more like the fictional town of Mayberry, Hannibal has become more like Twain's St. Petersburg. Tom Sawyer was a product of Mark Twain's imagination. Sawyer may have been drawn from people that Twain knew, but he was a work of fiction. The plaque, having the imprimatur of authority by resembling an official historic marker transforms Sawyer into an actual person. Sorry for writing like an academic!
Another intersesting thing to note: the fence boards next to the house and in the museum are vertical, but look at the illustrations in the latter. Horizontal boards!
The museum was enjoyable. It includes scenes from several of Twain's books, a replica steamboat pilot's house and a collection of illustrations Norman Rockwell made for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
One interesting thing I learned at the museum is shown in that last photo. Because writing a novel longhand was often tedious and involved many corrections, Twain developed a method where he would use cut-out paper dolls as stand-ins for the characters in his stories. For example in the scene above he is holding up Tom Sawyer. The dolls that are knocked over on the table represent the people who fainted in church when Tom appeared at his own funeral. Twain had an excellent memory. Instead of writing and revising on paper he would act out the various parts, giving each character their own voice, until he got a scene down to where he liked it, before committing the story to paper. Pretty interesting.