SAMUEL CLEMENS WRITES A CHECK FOR $750 TO HELP BUY A PIPE ORGAN FOR THE PARK CHURCH IN ELMIRA, N.Y. — A PLACE THAT WAS TO BE CENTRAL TO HIS SPIRITUAL LIFE
CLEMENS, SAMUEL L. [MARK TWAIN]. (1835-1910.) American humorist, lecturer and writer. Partly-Printed Check Signed, “S.L. Clemens”. One page, oblong octavo. New York, January 31, 1907. Fine condition. Drawn on Knickerbocker Trust Company and made out to ‘The Hope-Jones Organ Co.’ in the amount of “seven hundred fifty” dollars. Stamped dockets and punch-hole cancellations not affecting Clemens’ signature. Endorsed on verso by recipient. We have not encountered a Clemens check drawn on the Kickerbocker Trust Company before seeing this one. We assume them to be quite rare.
Twain’s involvement with a pipe-organ manufacturing company which was established in Elmira under the guidance of the eccentric organ builder Robert Hope-Jones. Twain’s nephew Jervis Langdon was very much a part of the company and was responsible for getting Twain to come to Elmira for the April 3, 1907, demonstration at the Park Church of one of the new Hope-Jones organs. There was a lot of mistaken optimism about these organs, and the company folded before many years had passed. Hope-Jones went on to work with Wurlitzer, and his ideas were significant in the development of the theater organ.
Mark Twain and visiting organists at The Park Church, Elmira, New York, April 3, 1907. Photograph taken by McFarlin, Elmira, NY. The foremost organists in New York City and vicinity gathered at The Park Church for a demonstration of the new organ that was purchased in memory of the Reverend Thomas K. Beecher. The instrument was designed by Robert Hope-Jones, founder of the Hope-Jones Organ Company of Elmira. Pictured among the organists were dignitaries: First Row: third from left, Samuel Clemens (on his final visit to Elmira), Mayor Zebulon R. Brockway, Reverend Samuel Eastman, Jervis Langdon. Second Row: between Brockway and Eastman, General Charles Langdon. Also pictured are Robert Hope-Jones of the Hope-Jones Organ Company (in the second row, to Langdon’s left, John Brand, John M. Connelly, and Roy Smith. [website: historyofparkchurch.htm]