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ECV® CHAPTER 1841


HISTRORIANS REPORT

CHAPTER #1841

November 17, 2014

THE CELEBRATED
JUMPING FROG
OF
CALAVERAS COUNTY
BY MARK TWAIN
click on pictures to enlarge

submitted by RuslH
... submitted by RuslH
  submitted by RuslH
... submitted by RuslH
 

Over 4,000 years ago a tribe known as the Patwin indians were the first people to dwell in the area known as the City of West Sacramento. They were a tranquil people and built many villages on the west bank of the Sacramento River. Besides hunting and fishing, the Patwins created baskets, fishing nets, boats, and rafts from willow trees, tough grasses, and vines. All of their needs were provided by the local environment.

submitted by RuslH
... submitted by RuslH
  submitted by RuslH
... submitted by RuslH
 

One of the most prolific writers in the 1800's was journalist Samuel Clemens, otherwise known as "Mark Twain." One of his more popular stories is "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." This story is also been published as "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog" and also "The Notorius Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." This story was published both separately in 1865 and included as the title story of an 1867 collection of short stories by Mark Twain. This was Mark's first book, a collection of 27 stories that were previously published in magazines and newspapers.

submitted by RuslH
... photograph by Russell Holder
 
Angels Camp, home of the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee

Twain wrote the title story at the request of his friend Artemus Ward, a fellow author, to be used in an upcoming book that Ward was writing. Twain wrote 2 versions of the story, and neither of them got around to describing the jumping frog contest. Ward pressed him again, but by the time Twain devised a version he was willing to submit, that book was already nearing publication. So, Ward sent it to the "Saturday Press", a famous newspaper, where it appeared as "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog." It soon appeared in many newspapers and magazines. Sometimes Mark would change the character's names depending on what title he was using. The first edition in 1867 was limited to 1,000 copies and typed in 7 colors: blue, brown, green, lavender, plum, terra-cotta, and of course red. These originals have sold for thousands of dollars at auctions.

submitted by RuslH
... submitted by RuslH
 
Angels Camp, home of the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee

The Story:

A narrator is sent by a friend to interview an old man, "Simon Wheeler," who might know the location of an old friend named "Leonidis W. Smiley." The narrator finds Simon at the "decayed mining camp of Angel's." He asks a fat, bald-headed man about Leonidas. Simon responds, "he does not know a Leonidis Smiley, but does know a Jim Smiley", where Simon then tells a story about Jim.

submitted by RuslH
... submitted by RuslH
  submitted by RuslH
... submitted by RuslH
 
Angels Camp, home of the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee

Jim Smiley loves to bet. He bets on anything from poker to dog fights. One time Jim caught a frog and named it "Daniel Webster." For 3 months, he trained the frog to jump. At the end of the 3 months, the frog could jump over more ground than any other. Jim carried his precious frog in a box. One day, a stranger to the town, asks Jim what is in the box. Jim responds that it is a frog that can out-jump any other frog in Calaveras County. The stranger looks at the frog and says "that frog doesn't look any different than the other frogs in Calaveras County, so he mustn't be the best." The stranger tells Jim that if he had a frog, he'd bet $40 bucks that his frog could beat Jim's. Jim agrees to the bet and gives his box to the stranger to hold, while Jim hunts for another frog for the stranger. While Jim is catching the stranger's frog, the stranger pours lead shot into the mouth of Jim's frog. When Jim returns, he and the stranger arrange for the contest. They align the frogs evenly, and on the count of 3, they let them loose. The freshly caught frog jumps away, but Dan'l Webster doesn't budge. Jim is surprised and discusted. He gives the $40 bucks to the stranger, and the stranger happily leaves. Jim wonders why Dan'l looks so heavy. He takes the frog and tips him upside down. The frog coughs up handfulls of shot. Jim sets the frog down and chases after the stranger; but the stranger is gone and Jim never catches him.

photograph by Russell Holder
... photograph by Russell Holder
  photograph by Russell Holder
... photograph by Russell Holder
 
Angels Camp, home of the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee

At this point, Wheeler is called away by someone on the front portch and tells the narrator to remain seated. The narrator realizes that Jim Smiley isn't the least bit related to Leonidas W. Smiley, and prepares to leave. Simon catches the narrator at the door, and starts telling him about another story about Jim's one-eyed cow... The narrator excuses himself and leaves.

photograph by Russell Holder
... photograph by Russell Holder
  photograph by Russell Holder
... photograph by Russell Holder
 
Angels Camp, home of the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee

Since there have been several translations of this story in November 1903 Mark Twain noted:
"When I became convinced that the "Jumping Frog" was a greek story 2 or 3 thousand years old, I was sincerely happy, for apparently here was a most striking and satisfactory justification of a favorite theory of mine....to wit, that no occurrence is sole and solitary, but is merely a repetition of a thing which has happened before, and perhaps often" , or so the story goes...

submitted by RuslH
... submitted by RuslH
 
Angels Camp, home of the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee

Mark Twain went on and wrote hundreds of stories including Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, but the "Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" was one of his favorites...written on November 18, 1865..which is 149 years tomorrow.

photograph by Russell Holder
... photograph by Russell Holder
 
Angels Camp, home of the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee

Report presented by Gary "Col. Klink" Klinke
John A Sutter Historian

submitted by RuslH
... submitted by RuslH