Is the Mark Twain House Haunted? Reports of Ghostly Encounters

Updated June 2, 2021
Mark Twain House & Museum

The Mark Twain House museum in Hartford, Connecticut provides insight into the man who created classic literary characters such as Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. It's also a place where you just might run into a ghost. With reports of ghostly encounters alongside the history and lore of an American literary icon, Mark Twain's family home is a must-see for literature fans, history lovers, and paranormal enthusiasts alike.

History of Mark Twain Family Home

Mark Twain's family home in Hartford, Connecticut has seen triumph, tragedy, and some darn good storytelling. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), his wife Olivia, and their three daughters Jean, Susy, and Clara moved into the newly built home in 1874. The family was happy there for many years, and Twain wrote some of his most important works while living there including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

Eventually, financial problems forced the family to travel to Europe in 1891 so Twain could tour and lecture. The family traveled together for a few years, but Susy returned to the family home in 1896 suffering from spinal meningitis. She died there in August of that year, leaving behind her heartbroken parents and sisters. None of the Clemens family ever returned to the home. The family sold the house in 1903. Today, it is a National Historic Landmark and a museum celebrating the life and work of Mark Twain.

Susy's Spirit Possesses a Museum Visitor

There are quite a few ghosts residing in the Mark Twain House Museum. Many people believe they've seen the spirit of Susy Clemens wandering about the house. In fact, one woman believes she was possessed by Susy's spirit while on the house tour. The Hispanic woman, who didn't speak English according to her niece, was pushed against the wall. Everyone on the tour thought she was having a seizure. She began to speak in an American accent about 'getting out of here' and 'looking for mama.'

At the time, no one understood what was going on and simply thought the woman had been taken ill. It wasn't until later, when the museum received a letter from the woman's niece, that they realized the incident was paranormal. The niece explained how her aunt felt as though someone had taken possession of her body. She also wanted it to be clear that her aunt didn't speak English, yet during the incident, she'd spoken very clear English.

Mark Twain 's wife and children - Getty Editorial Use

Museum Staff Encounters Ghosts

You don't have to convince the staff that there are spirits in the house. One employee caught the fleeting sight of a woman dressed in white darting across the grand hall and into the dining room where she vanished. The museum staff have heard disembodied voices and smelled cigar smoke in various places in the house, especially in the billiard room where Clemens wrote his novels.

Hearing the sound of children's laughter and phantom footsteps as well as glimpsing playful orbs occur frequently in the main house. There have been other incidences in the basement, where staff has heard a growling sound. One of the security guards had a silver serving tray thrown at him while in the basement.

Other unnerving incidents include several sightings of a translucent woman in period garb on the first and second floors. An African American male is seen on the third floor. This is the floor where the family butler George Griffin's bedroom was located. Griffin was a freed slave who worked for the Clemens family for 17 years. When the Clemens family moved, Griffin retired to New York. However, whenever Samuel returned to America, he always traveled to New York to visit with George. Clemens based the character Jim in his novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on George Griffin.

The billiard room seems to be a hot spot for activity that includes knocking and unexplained banging as well as disembodied voices, some of which entire tour groups have heard. Many believe Samuel's spirit is the cause of the paranormal activity in this room. One evening, the fire alarms went off in the billiard room. When security and the fire department arrived, there was no fire or smoke, but everyone could smell cigar smoke.

Billiard rom

Paranormal Investigations and Evidence

During the first investigation conducted by SGRA (Smoking Gun Research Agency), a team intuitive was immediately overcome by a feeling of terror and had to be removed from the lower level. There were significant spiritual energies in the library, dining room, and nursery.

  • Another investigative group, Givens Paranormal, recorded a number of EVPs and tapping sounds in various locations in the house.
  • The SyFy's show Ghost Hunters investigation revealed bangs, knocks, high EMF spikes, and shadow movement.
  • Ghost Hunters Academy captured knocks, bangs, and EVPs. The investigators reported seeing shadow movements and felt as though something was touching and, at times, breathing on them.
  • When renowned demonologist Lorraine Warren and her nephew John Zaffis, a paranormal researcher, investigated the house, they reported feeling spirit energy.

Photographic Evidence of the Haunting

While the museum doesn't allow any photography or videos on their tours, they do pay close attention to the paranormal experiences that guests eagerly share with them. The only photos of spirits are ones that guests have taken outside the house. The museum has a few photos that visitors have taken that show a face in a window or on the porch.

Discover the Haunted Mark Twain House

Clearly, there is a lot of paranormal activity going on at the Mark Twain House & Museum. You just may have a ghostly experience or two when you participate in one of the day tours.

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Is the Mark Twain House Haunted? Reports of Ghostly Encounters