John Marshall Clemens (August 11, 1798 – March 24, 1847)

John Marshall Clemens (August 11, 1798 ? March 24, 1847)
[Newspaper Collection, SHS]

John Marshall Clemens was born in Campbell County, Virginia. He was a lawyer and later a justice of the peace in Hannibal. Because it was difficult on the frontier to make a living as a lawyer, John Clemens also ran a dry goods store and invested in property. Despite his best efforts, Clemens had a difficult time financially supporting his family.

“A native of Virginia, John Clemens was licensed to practice law in 1822. He married Jane Lampton in 1823, and moved to Tennessee, where his first child, Orion, was born. In Jamestown, Tenn., he worked as the town circuit court clerk, and had a law practice on the side. During this time, John accumulated the deeds to more than 70,000 acres of land, which he considered the means to an eventual fortune for his family. These dreams never came to fruition, however, and the land was eventually sold off in the 1880s without making the family wealthy.

“In 1835, John moved his family to Florida, Missouri, the site of Sam Clemens' birth, where he ran a dry goods store. Four years later, the Clemens family settled in Hannibal, Mo., John's final residence. In Hannibal, he opened a general store and was a lawyer. As well, he served as justice of the peace and on a circuit court jury. It was while campaigning for the position of circuit court clerk in March 1847 that John contracted pneumonia and died. Sam Clemens was 11 years old at the time. John Clemens was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery outside Hannibal.” [Text quoted from "About Mark Twain"]

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