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September 29, 1866

Origin of Illustrious Men

You have done fair enough about Franklin and Shakespeare, and several parties not so well known - parties some of us never heard of, in fact - but you have shirked the fellows named below. Why this mean partiality?

JOHN SMITH was the son of his father. He formerly resided in New York and other places, but he has moved to San Francisco, now.

WM. SMITH was the son of his mother. This party's grandmother is deceased. She was a brick.

JOHN BROWN was the son of old Brown. The body of the latter lies mouldering in the grave.

EDWARD BROWN was the son of old Brown by a particular friend.

HENRY JONES was a son of a sea-cook.

WM. JONES was a son of a gun.

JOHN JONES was a Son of Temperance.

In early life GABRIEL JONES was actually a shoemaker. He is a shoemaker yet.

Previous to the age of 85, CALEB JONES had never given any evidence of extraordinary ability. He has never given any since.

PATRICK MURPHY is said to have been of Irish extraction.

JAMES PETERSON was the son of a common weaver, who was so miraculously poor that his friends were encouraged to believe that in case the Scriptures were strictly carried out he would "inherit the earth." He never got his property.

JOHN DAVIS' father was a soap-boiler, and not a very good soap-boiler at that. John never arrived at maturity - died in childbirth, he and his mother.

JOHN JOHNSON was a blacksmith. He died. It was published in the papers, with a head over it, "DEATHS." It was therefore thought he died to gain notoriety. He has got an aunt living somewheres.

Up to the age of 34, HOSEA WILKERSON never had any home but Home, Sweet Home, and even when he had that he had to sing it himself. At one time it was believed that he would have been famous if he had become celebrated. He died. He was greatly esteemed for his many virtues. There was not a dry eye in the crowd when they planted him.

[text from Mark Twain's San Francisco, Bernard Taper]

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