Mark Twain in the West: An Exhibition
California Gold Country

Winter 1864–65

Clemens spent three months in California’s Gold Country during the winter of 1864–65, a good part of the time in the Gillis family cabin on Jackass Hill, near Tuttletown. He was a friend of the Gillis family and especially of three of the Gillis brothers, Steve, Jim, and Billy. He first knew Steve from Virginia City, where Steve worked as a typesetter on the Enterprise. In San Francisco they were roommates: Clemens stayed for a time in the boarding house of Steve’s parents, Angus and Margaret, at 44 Minna Street. Reportedly Clemens signed a straw bond for $500 after Steve got in trouble with the police for intervening in a bar fight. Rather than report to court, Steve left for Virginia City and sent Clemens to stay with his brothers. On 4 December 1864, Clemens left San Francisco with $300 in his pocket, and he stayed in the Gillis cabin at Jackass Hill with Jim, Billy, and Jim’s mining partner Dick Stoker until 22 January 1865. He then spent nearly a month in Angels Camp with Jim and Dick. After a quick return to Jackass Hill, he left on 23 February.

University of California, Berkeley Mark Twain Papers and Project 'Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog' The Gillis cabin, 1907 The Gillis cabin, 1922 The Gillis cabin, circa 1900 The Gillis cabin, Jackass Hill, 1895 Winter 1864-65 Maps Roughing It and Comments on Bret Harte Retracing Clemens's Steps A 'Call' to Literature California Gold Country San Francisco Correspondent Writing for the Enterprise Mining in Nevada Territory Exhibit Home Introduction and Chronology