Origin of Illustrious Men

By Mark Twain
From The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches (New York: C. H. Webb, 1867).


John Smith was the son of his father. He formerly lived in New-York and other places, but he has removed to San Francisco now.

William 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 the son of a sea-cook.

Ed 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 eighty-five, Caleb Jones had never given 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 carried out he would "inherit the earth." He never got his property.

John Davis's father was the son of 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 somewhere.

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








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