Mark Twain in the West: An Exhibition
California Gold Country

“Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog”

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (“Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog”). In this little notebook, which dates from early 1865, the 29-year-old Samuel Clemens made the first note in pencil for the story that would launch his national fame:

Coleman with his jumping frog—bet stranger $50—stranger had no frog, & C got him one—in the meantime stranger filled C’s frog full of shot & he couldn’t jump—the stranger’s frog won.

Later he wrote across it in ink: “Wrote this story for Artemus—his idiot publisher, Carleton gave it to Clapp’s Saturday Press.” The remainder of the text shown reads:

Time Bob Howland came into Mrs. Murphy’s corral in Carson, k drunk, knocked down Wagners bottle of tarantulas & spilled them on the floor.

Louse betting by sold discharged soldiers coming through from Mexico to Cal in early days. The man whose louse got whipped had to get supper. Or place them on the bottom of a frying pan—draw a chalk circle around them, heat the pan & the last louse over the line had to get supper.

Jim story of Kilien & his method of furnishing lodgings to strangers so they could carry off some of the lice.

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