Hidden Landmarks: Quarry Farm

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Quarry Farm is a hidden gem of the Twin Tiers.

In May 1869, Jervis Langdon purchased the house as a summer home for his family.

Its distance from this city and remoteness rendered it less accessible during snowy months, but it was the perfect summer escape.

When he died the following year, it was inherited by his eldest daughter, Susan Langdon Crane and her husband Theodore, turned the summer home into a permanent residence and a working dairy farm.

Susan was Samuel Clemens sister-in-law.

Sam and Livy Langdon and their family summered here for over twenty years. moving to Quarry Farm in March and remaining until the end of September.

Many years between 1871 and 1895, the Clemens spent more days at Quarry Farm than they did at their primary residence in Hartford. All three of their daughters – Susy, Clara, and Jean – were born in Elmira.

He wrote much of his work in an octagonal study built expressly for him about 200 yards from the main house in 1874.

In 1952 this study was moved, slowly by truck, from its original location on Quarry Farm, to its location on the Elmira College Campus.

In 1982 Jervis Langdon Jr. (Samuel Clemens Grand Nephew) specified that the main house at Quarry Farm would be used to further the study of Mark Twain’s writing, a house that would be used exclusively as a place of work and inspiration for Mark Twain scholars. Here they have a unique experience of living in the same space, and perhaps partaking the same daily routine, as Twain himself. Between sixteen and twenty scholars are in residence every year, either as Quarry Farm Fellows or as contributors to the Trouble Begins Lectures.

This important site is managed by the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, and although it is normally closed to the public, it has produced unenumerated amounts of articles, book chapters, reviews and over 100 books that have been edited and or written at Quarry Farm since 1982.

Now, it would be so easy for me to step through the front door and take you for a little tour through the most important landmarks of American literature.

Today we are going to concentrate on Samuel Clemens the anti-vivisectionist which is a fancy term for one who is opposed to animal cruelty. This movement got its roots in England in 1876 – and Mark Twain was a firm proponent for animal rights.

One way that his belief in animal rights manifested itself, was through the horse watering troughs, that were placed strategically along the road from Elmira, up East Hill, and back to Quarry Farm.

Three of the watering troughs are still on the Langdon property.

The earliest, named for the infant son who died at eighteen months, is beside the road near the house. It has the inscription “Langdon Clemens 1870.”

The watering troughs for Langdon, Olivia Susan, and Jane (Jean) Lampton Clemens now reside alongside the roadside at Quarry Farm.

The fourth watering trough, named for Clara Clemens, was brought to Strathmont when it was the site of a regional museum. In 1976 it was moved again, as a Bicentennial project, to the Elmira College campus and placed beside the study.

Although Quarry Farm is relatively quiet these days, except for the odd academic, these watering troughs remind us that this was once a bustling home and working dairy farm.

Animals were an essential part of Samuel Clemens’s life and an essential part of the ordered chaos that was his life.

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