I’m Deb and I am descended from Ira and Henrietta Lucia’s youngest child, Emma Lucia. Growing up, I was told that our family was related to Mark Twain through my great-great grandfather Ira and for the past thirty years I have been trying to prove or disprove the story! I was about ready to write it off as a fable until I tracked down my third cousin Susan Lucia who actually met Clara Clemens (Mark Twain’s daughter) on several occasions. That prompted me to go back to tracking other distant cousins. The bottom line is that all lines coming forward from Ira were told the Mark Twain connection story in some format. I’ll share those stories here.
Wyandotte Herald, Michigan
Story as Handed Down to Deb
“Ira Lucia was born when the family lived near Elmira, New York. Ira’s parents died when he was very young and he was adopted by a Pennsylvania Dutch family named Baumgartner. Ira’s mother was Cynthia Clemens, a sister to Mark Twain’s father John Marshall Clemens.”
The Facts and Issues
1. The obituary for Ira Lucia’s wife Henrietta (who died in 1913) makes the claim in writing that Ira was a first cousin to Mark Twain.
2. A story written by my great uncle when he was a young boy was published in a Grand Rapids, Michigan paper around 1902 and ends with a statement that he “may have gotten his writing talent from his distant cousin Mark Twain.”
3. Ira was born in New York but the place is unknown.
4. Ira was raised by Mennonites (“Pennsylvania Dutch”) in Waterloo, Ontario. The name of the people who raised him was likely Bamberger rather than Baumgartner.
5. There is no evidence that Mark Twain’s father (John Marshall Clemens) had a sister Cynthia but if she died at an early age there is a possibility the records were lost.
6. Mark Twain’s grand father Samuel B Clemens died in 1805 and his widow Pamelia did not remarry until 1809. It is possible that Pamelia could have had an out of wedlock child in that time frame who then married young (Ira was born in 1822).
7. Another possibility is that the story is off a generation and that Ira’s mother Cynthia Clemens was actually a sibling of Marks’s Twain’s grandfather Samuel. There are some significant time gaps between Samuels’ known siblings that make this a possibility. For example, Samuel’s sister Christina was born in 1775 and his brother Mahlon in 1782, leaving a wide gap. Any thoughts?
8. Another possibility might be that Cynthia was the daughter of one of Samuels’s older siblings. Again, anybody having any evidence on this?
My third cousin Lucia, a descendant of Ira and Henrietta’s son John Franklin Lucia also was told she was related to Mark Twain and had a similar but slightly different story.
Ira Clemens Lucia, Jr. was born in Elmira, NY. Ira's birth father (was an Irish American who worked on the railroads in Canada. His father was killed when Ira, Jr. was 3 months old. His birth mother died shortly after. Ira was adopted at 3 months of age by a "rich" Pennsylvania Dutch farmer. Ira had only a country school education, but loved books and learning. He wrote both prose and poetry, humorous. He was sought out by people for miles around to write letters or work out difficult math problems for them. Ira was a first-cousin to Samuel L. Clemens, and they looked like each other, too.
The Facts and Issues
1. This story also makes the claim that Ira Lucia was a first cousin to Mark Twain.
2. It makes the same claim that Ira looked like Mark Twain.
The Irish-American claim is doubtful since Ira indicated on census records that his father was French.
3. Ira Lucia was born in 1822 and the first railroad in Canada was not constructed until several years later. There is likely some kernel of truth in there.
Another third cousin, Charlie, descends from Ira and Henrietta’s oldest daughter Marietta. When contacted, Charlie said that he had also been told that he was related to Mark Twain. However, since his grandfather (Marietta’s son) had died before Charlie was born, he knew little of the specifics of the connection. He thought that it had been his grandmother through whom the connection came because the name Sawyer was in that line and he assumed a connection to “Tom Sawyer.” The name Wright also popped up in that line, a name mentioned to Susan.
Finally, third cousin Loretta, who descends from Ira and Henrietta Lucia’s son Isaac, also was told she was related to Mark Twain but with no specifics.
January 30, 1903