Did Clara Clemens the only surviving child of Mark Twain, and her daughter, Nina Clemens Gabrilowitsch, take a life-long secret to their graves?
After extensive research, and using
techniques from DNA and genetic genealogy, The Twain Shall Meet authors believe the answer is a resounding “yes.” If you thought you knew everything about Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ family, this book will be a page-turning eye opener.
This work of nonfiction takes the reader on a mesmerizing and heartwarming journey into the tangled universe of mother-daughter relationships as co-authors Susan Bailey and genealogist and historic researcher Deborah Gosselin seek to uncover the identity of Bailey’s mother—a quest that leads them straight into the heart of Clara’s and Nina’s world.
As a child Susan knew Clara and was taken under her wing. She was told to call her "Aunt Clara," and grew up thinking she was her aunt. When she was eight she was first taken to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra by Clara, where her husband, Ossip Gabrilowitsch used to be the conductor. Clara also bought her clothes and took her out to eat In posh restaurants. Susan always said her Aunt Clara taught her the love of classical music and fine dining. She didn't notice the uncanny resemblance until she was grown and people began to point out how much alike they looked.
One of the first 'Ah Ha' moments that Susan and Deb had when researching the identity of Susan's mother was finding this image of Ossip Gabrilowitsch. He was married to Mark Twain's daughter, Clara, and was the father of Twain's granddaughter, Nina, but looked so much like Susan's son, Greg.
After finding that first picture of Clara's husband, Ossip Gabrilowitsch and being astonished at how much he resembled Susan's son, Greg, the authors decided to see if the resemblance was holding up as they aged. The first image was in the 20's. Here they are both in the 30's, although the pictures were taken 75 years apart.
This picture of Greg was taken two Christmas's ago. You can see that he and Ossip are even aging almost identically. We had to find out the secret behind these images. We got to work with DNA testing!
This image of Nina Clemens Gabrilowitsch, daughter of Ossip & Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch, was the first picture that was both a quite startling and a major clue in finding Susan's mother. The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, helped the authors so much with pictures and letters of Nina and Clara and that's where this image was found. Susan sent it to Kyle's mother and she called immediately and said, "Who is that girl with my son's face!"
Although this picture was taken in the 1930s, you can imagine the excitement it created when the Mark Twain House faxed it to Susan's office and she saw a picture of her father, Elwood Bailey with Nina Clemens Gabrilowitsch.
Susan had not seen her father since she was seven as she was a very young child when he died. However, she had seen pictures of him and recognized him standing with Nina. The picture of him on the right was taken about 20 years later just before he died. All the images on this page and many more have been put through photo recognition software and the look a likes have been mistaken for each other, even when their baby photos were used.
Samuel Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri in 1835. His family soon moved to Hannibal, Missouri where he grew up. Although his father was a judge his family was poor and when his father died when Sam was 12, he had to quit school and go to work to help out. At first he set type. Later he became a river boat pilot on the great Mississippi. That's where he took his pen name from when he was out west and began to write for newspapers. Mark Twain means two fathoms or 12 feet, and is the depth a ship must have not to run aground. He later married Olivia Langdon, a girl from a wealthy New York family. It was a love match that lasted 34 years and produced four children. His first child, Langdon, died at 18 months. Then they had three girls, Susan, Clara, and Jean. Both Susan and Jean died young leaving only Clara to carry on the Twain name and legacy.