Mark Twain's family tree rooted in Clements Hill, Ballyclare

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Mark Twain's family tree rooted in Clements Hill, Ballyclare

Just off the Green Road in Ballyclare, before it reaches Calhame Corners is a lane known as The Back Walks, which leads down to the Ballynure Road. It crosses over the area of Clements Hill that has long been the home of a family who originally spelled their name Clemens.

Some are buried in the old churchyard in Ballynure. In fact, the oldest gravestone there is that of Elenor Clemens - 1628. Check out this blog for a bit more background on the Clemens family history.

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The inscription on the headstone reads:

Clements Here lyeth the body of Ellinor, the wife of Edward Clements of Mvlligan-Hill gent. and eldest daughter of Alexander Dallvay of Bally Hill Esqr., who departed this life 03 Mar 1628 aged 35 years.

Towards the end of the seventeenth century Samuel Clemens emigrated to America. His grandson, Samuel Leghorne Clemens, was born in 1835 and spent his childhood in Hannibal, a river port on the Mississippi. After his father's death in 1857 young Samuel took on a number of jobs, eventually becoming a pilot on the Mississippi steam boats. Because the river had dangerous sandbanks, it was necessary to have a boy with a weighted rope on which knots would indicate the depth in fathoms. As the steamer approached shallow water, the boy would call out "Mark Four, Mark Three" but never "Mark Two". Instead he shouted "Mark Twain".

Listening to this, Clemens found a pen name for the books he would later write. The future author of 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' and later 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' hailed as the "The Great American Novel", had come a long way from his roots in what he once called 'a quiet valley in County Antrim'.

This is the only known footage of Twain filmed in 1909 by the famous inventor Thomas Edison. It shows him walking in front of Stormfield, his final home in Redding Connecticut, one year before his death.


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