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Bed, Breakfast represents Garth influence, Twain ties

Jason and Christine Einsporn have taken over ownership of the Garth Woodside Mansion Bed and Breakfast Inn. They took possession on March 13, 2024. Contributed photo.


Nestled upon a hillside along the rolling landscape of northeast Ralls County exists a stately home, built by one of Hannibal’s most successful businessmen. After the Civil War years, John H. and Helen Garth selected this site upon the vast acreage they owned, considering it as the perfect spot for a summer cottage. They were able to escape the heat and humidity of the river town of Hannibal, for half a year exchanging their residence in town for their grand summer home in the country.

John H. Garth, an entrepreneur, banker and a lumberman, and his wife, Helen, along with their two children, John David, born about 1874, and Annie, born about 1862, found their country cottage, completed in 1871, to be a place for peaceful relaxation and entertaining.

The spacious 27-room country cottage featured bedrooms for the Garths and each of their children. In addition, the 1880 census records Helen Garth’s parents, W.F. and Nannie Kercheval, also making their home at the Ralls County cottage.

In 1882 Samuel Clemens visited this country estate. He made a trip up the Mississippi River on the boat, ‘Baton Rouge.’ He spent three days in Hannibal and visited the Garths. Of his visit he told his biographer: “I spent my nights with John and Helen Garth three miles from town,” …

(Source: Albert Bigelow Paine, Mark Twain A Biography [New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1912] Vol. III, p. 1332. National Register of Historic Places Inventory — Nomination Form, July 1, 1977.)

New owners

On March 13, 2024, Christine and Jason Einsporn of O’Fallon, Mo., took possession of the mansion, which for two decades was operated as a renowned Bed and Breakfast by Julie and John Rolsen. The Einsporns purchased the property from the Rolsen family.

Contained within the walls of the mansion are the bedrooms formerly occupied by the Garths, which have been converted into stately sleeping quarters for guests. Each room has at least two pieces of furniture original to the house, Christine Einsporn said.

In Mrs. Garth’s bedroom closet, she would measure her grandson when he would come to visit. “Those measurements are still on the closet door,” Christine said. “We have Mrs. Garth’s original claw foot tub as well.”

The Einsporns first became acquainted with the property a number of years ago. “Jason and I stayed here years ago,” Christine said, when Julie and John owned it. In recent years, she said, “We have been actively looking for (a bed and breakfast to purchase) with some land that we can work together.”  They saw that Garth was for sale,  “and we emailed and started the process. John had several other couples interested, and he picked us.”

While they have no previous Bed and Breakfast experience, Christine does have experience in the hotel business.

They were attracted to this property for its history and the beauty. “It’s magnificent,” she said.

Also attractive to the Einsporns is the potential. “The potential to do more events out here and for people to know we do events. I’ve met so many people in Hannibal who don’t know we’re out here.”

Angela Brown, who has worked at the mansion for 15 years, said she recently talked to someone who thought the mansion was still a museum. “That was in 1987,” she said.


Unique to Bed and Breakfast venues is the morning meal.

“We serve homemade muffins, fruit and the best yummy breakfast,” Christine explained. “Quiche, frittatas, French toast, Belgian waffles, and everything is homemade.

“It is hard for us to tell you exactly what we serve; sometimes we make things up that are fun to eat. We haven’t had any complaints yet,” she said.

Angela Brown points out that they serve a full three-course breakfast at Garth Mansion.

When asked about their typical clientele, Christine said, “We’ve had a lot of younger people since I’ve taken over in March. Guests range from their early 20s to late 80s. Everyone is welcome.”

Looking to the future, she is pleased that Angela Brown will continue to work at Garth.

“Angela and I are on the same wave length,” Christine said.

Christine and Jason have six grown children, and one grandchild who is 3.

Clemens connection

Samuel Clemens was childhood friends with both John H. and Helen Kercheval Garth. Because he left Hannibal at the age of 18, Clemens would stay with the Garths when he returned to Hannibal. The Mark Twain connection at the mansion is alive and well.

“We have a room named for him, the Samuel Clemens room,” Christine said. “That is where he stayed.”

The Garth’s guest room was previously their son’s room. John David Garth died Aug. 12, 1895, of appendicitis at the home of his sister in Kansas City. He was 20 years old, and a sophomore at Yale College at the time of his death.

In addition to the Clemen’s room, “All of our rooms have period pieces in them, and all have at least two pieces original to the home, and Sam Clemens’ pictures are in the room that he stayed in,” Christine said. “We have a bed that is like the bed that he slept in. We have all of Mr. Garth’s original furniture as well, and his books are everywhere” throughout the house.

Noteworthy item

Monday, June 28, 1875

Hannibal Courier-Post

“The bridge over the creek on the New London Gravel road, near the residence of Mr. John H. Garth, having been washed away twice by previous rains, that gentleman though he would make it secure by fastening it to trees with ropes. The rain last night, however, was too much for it and away it went again.”

For more information, access the mansion’s website at:

Those interested are invited to “like” the mansion’s Facebook page, Garth Woodside Mansion Estate and Weddings.

This photo represents a sampling of the breakfast served to overnight guests at the Garth Woodside Mansion Bed and Breakfast Inn, now under new ownership. Contributed photo.

John H. Garth and his wife, Helen, had this “cottage” built upon the land they owned in northeast Ralls County, off of New London Gravel Road. The house was built circa 1871. It is likely that family members and staff are the ones pictured on the porches. Note the carriage on the front lawn. In the July 8, 1875 edition of the Hannibal Courier-Post, ( Messrs. W.R. Pitts and Son advertised that they had just completed a very fine gold-mounted, double harness for Mr. Garth. Contributed photo.

Mary Lou Montgomery retired in 2014, after writing for the Hannibal Courier-Post for 39 years.


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