Mrs. Laura Frazer--'Becky Thatcher' of Mark Twain's Stories and Sweetheart of His School Days Here--Dies at Age of 91
The headliner went on to read:
"The "Becky Thatcher" of the world's greatest books of humor and the childhood sweetheart of Mark Twain, their author, Mrs. Laura Frazer, died at 3:15 o'clock this morning at the age of 91 years. Her death came in the home of her son, Judge L. E. Frazer on North Fifth street, less than four blocks from the site of the little private school where she and Sam Clemens attended more than eighty years ago.
Mrs. Frazer was widely know as the inspiration for one of the most lovable characters in Mark Twain's books, little Becky Thatcher, and the famous writer often referred to her as the original."
made during the 1920's for a feature story
written earlier in the decade.
Perhaps such could be attributed to Laura's era when women were not considered substantive figures in their communities as much as men were - or perhaps women themselves preferred a more anonymous existence, agreeable to societal expectations of female modesty. But then, this was not the era where all could look forward to receiving their "15 minutes of fame".
Here are some things that are known about Laura Hawkins:
-She was born in 1837 to Elijah and Sophia Hawkins in Georgetown, Kentucky.
-She was only a few years old when her family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, where they lived in a two-story frame house on Hill Street, across from the Clemenses.
3rd and Main. The house is currently undergoing
massive restoration. Photo courtesy of Wikepedia.
-She attended Van Rensselaer Presbyterial Academy in Rensselaer, Missouri (about 7 miles east of Hannibal).
-In 1859, she married James W. Frazer (1833–1875), a physician, with whom she had two sons - Judge L. E. Frazer of Hannibal and Ben Frazer who settled in Shreveport, LA.
Courtesy of Mark Twain Museum archives.
- She became the matron of a Hannibal home for orphans and the indigent (Home of the Friendless) in 1895.
- Samuel Clemens visited with her in Hannibal in 1902 and in Redding, Connecticut, in 1908. He had left Hannibal in 1853 and went on to a literary career, portraying Laura Hawkins as Becky Thatcher in Tom Sawyer (1876) and Huckleberry Finn (1884), and used her name for one of the principal characters in The Gilded Age (1873).
Bits and pieces of the personal side of Laura Hawkins have been immortalized in long-ago written memoirs and in the memories of the very few left who knew of her.
So, what was Laura like? Much that was original to this house clue us in to her life. Yet much has eroded or disappeared the way others' memories have.
We're grappling with restoring the house to showcase some of Laura's tastes and preferences during the latter part of her life. Any speculations or suggestions, readers?
MRS. LAURA FRAZER (LAURA HAWKINS)-"Becky Thatcher" serving tea in the Mark Twain home, Hannibal, Missouri, November 30, 1915, in memory of the author's birthday - Photo from The Mentor magazine, May 1924