Reverend Joseph Hopkins Twichell, (USA)

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Reverend Joseph Hopkins Twichell, (USA)

Birthplace: Southington, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States
Death: December 20, 1918 (80)
Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, USA
Place of Burial: Cedar Hill Cemetery, Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Edward Hopkins Twitchell and Selena Delight Twitchell
Husband of Julia Harmony Twitchell
Father of Julia Curtis Wood; Harmony Ives; Burton Parker Twichell; Private; Private and 4 others

Managed by: Julie McCarthy Gillette
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Reverend Joseph Hopkins Twichell, (USA)

Reverend Joseph Hopkins Twichell (November 30, 1838 – December 20, 1918), writer and pastor, was Mark Twain's closest friend for over forty years, and appears in A Tramp Abroad as "Harris." Twain and Twichell met at a church social after the Civil War when Twichell was pastor of Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford, his only pastorate for almost 50 years. Reverend Twichell performed Twain's wedding and christened his children, and counseled him on literary as well as personal matters for the rest of Twain's life. A scholar and devout, Twichell was described as "a man with an exuberant sense of humor, and a profound understanding of the frailties of mankind."[1]

Early life

Twichell was born in Southington, Connecticut, to Edward Twichell and Selina Delight Carter. He studied at Yale from 1855–1859. He was an athletic young man with deep-sunk eyes and a powerful jaw. He had rowed port waist on the Yale crew the first time the Yale defeated Harvard. From 1859–61, Twichell attended Union Theological Seminary, New York.

Civil War

In 1861, Twichell was living on Waverly Place in New York City, attending Union Theological Seminary, but not yet ordained, when war broke out. Strongly pro-abolition, he enlisted in the Union Army (in the wrong state and with inadequate credentials) a few weeks after the Confederacy fired upon Fort Sumter in April.[2]

Twichell became chaplain of the 71st New York State Volunteers, one of five regiments of the Excelsior Brigade commanded by General Daniel E. Sickles. The regiment was largely made up of working-class Irish Catholics from lower Manhattan, an unusual flock for a Congregationalist from Connecticut. He wrote his father: “If you ask why I fixed upon this regiment, composed as it is of rough, wicked men, I answer, that was the very reason. I should not expect a revival, but I should expect to make some good impressions by treating with kindness a class of men who are little used to it.”[2]

In July 1861 the Excelsior Brigade was ordered to Washington, D.C., a capital in shock after the unexpected Union disaster at Bull Run. That fall, the brigade marched east through Maryland, with Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s division of the army’s Third Corps, to help defend the mouth of the Potomac River from Confederate harassment.

As the years passed, the friendship between Twichell and author Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, deepened. In 1870, Twitchell, along with Rev. Thomas K. Beecher, married Clemens to his wife, Olivia Langdon. Twichell's inspiration also fired Clemens's imagination to write about his piloting career on the Mississippi River. Clemens and Twichell undertook a walking trip of over 100 miles to Boston in 1874. It was aborted on the second day when they decided to take the train.[3] They followed the news reports of the adultery scandal involving Henry Ward Beecher, who was the brother of author Harriet Beecher Stowe and their mutual friend, Rev. Thomas K. Beecher. Of the scandal, Clemens wrote Twichell, "Mr. Tilton never has been entitled to any sympathy since the day he heard the news & did not go straight & kill Beecher & then humbly seek forgiveness for displaying so much vivacity."(p. 202) He and Twichell attended the Henry Ward Beecher trial together.

Personal life

Twichell married Julia Harmony Cushman in November 1865. Together, they had eleven children.

Their son Burton Parker Twichell married Katherine Eugenia Pratt, daughter of Charles Millard Pratt.

Their daughter Harmony Twichell (1876–1969) married the composer Charles Ives in 1908. Wikipedia Joseph Hopkins Twichell was born in Southington, Connecticut in 1838, the son of Deacon Edward and Selina (Carter) Twichell.

He graduated from Yale University in 1859. In 1865, recommended by Horace Bushnell, he became the first pastor of Hartford’s Asylum Hill Congregational Church.

Mark Twain first met the Rev. Twichell in 1868 at the home of Elisha Bliss, secretary of the American Publishing Co. Bliss wanted to publish some of Twain's work and had invited Twain to stay at his Asylum Avenue home. Twain, viewing a picture of the Asylum Hill Congregational Church in the Bliss home remarked, "Why yes, that is the Church of the Holy Speculators." Hearing him, Mrs. Bliss whispered "Sh-h-h!" "Its pastor is right behind you and wants to meet you." From that moment, Twichell's was Twain's constant companion and counselor, both in his daily and literary life.

When Twain's literary well ran dry, it was Twichell who inspired the idea for Old Times on the Mississippi, published in the Atlantic Monthly. Hearing Twain recount his old Mississippi River days, Twichell responded, "What a virgin subject to hurl at a magazine."

The pair's adventures included walks to Talcott Tower and a trip to Bermuda. In 1878, a voyage to Germany and Switzerland became the basis for Twain's A Tramp Abroad. While working on A Connecticut Yankee, Twain sought refuge at Twichell's home. He wrote to a friend, "I am here at Twichell's house with the noise of the children and an army of carpenters to help." Inviting his Atlantic Monthly editor for a visit, Twain promised to bar all friends saying, "I'll close the door against them all, which will fix the lot of them--except Twichell, who will not hesitate to climb in the back window."

In 1870, Twichell performed the marriage ceremony for Twain and his beloved Olivia. He officiated at the funerals of three of the couple's four children and returned from a trip to be at Suzy Clemens' side when she died. He officiated at Olivia's funeral in 1904 and, most painfully, at Twain's in 1910.

Joseph Hopkins Twichell died in Hartford on December 20, 1918, joining his Nook Farm friends, Charles Dudley Warner, Isabella Beecher Hooker and Joseph Roswell Hawley at Cedar Hill.

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Reverend Joseph Hopkins Twichell, (USA)'s Timeline

May 27, 1838
Southington, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States
November 30, 1838
January 9, 1869
June 4, 1876
Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States
December 20, 1918
Age 80
Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, USA