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John Muir Life Chronology

This chronology is from the Guide and Index to the Microform Edition of the John Muir Papers, 1858-1957 by Limbaugh and Lewis, 1986.

  • 1838-1871 


    1838 April 21 Born in Dunbar, Scotland to Daniel Muir & Ann Gilrye Muir.

    1841 Begins school in Dunbar.

    1849 Spring Leaves Scotland & arrives at Fountain Lake [now Ennis Lake] Wisconsin with brother, sister & father. Remainder of family arrives later that year.

    1853 Develops interest in mechanical invention.

    1855-1856 Daniel Muir, Sr. purchases Hickory Hill tract; sells Fountain Lake tract to David Galloway.

    1857 Helps family construct house, barn & well at Hickory Hill.

    1860 September Leaves home; exhibits inventions at State Agr. Fair, Madison, Wise. Meets Mrs. Jeanne C. Carr, wife of Univ. of Wisconsin professor, and James Davie Butler, another faculty member.

    1860 Oct-Dec In Prairie du Chien working with Mr. Williard on ice boat construction.

    1861 January Enrolls at University of Wisconsin, Madison.

    1861 Winter-'62 Spr Teaches public school in McKeebey Dist. near Madison.

    1862 March Continues studies at the University.

    1863 June Leaves University, intending to enter medical school; returns to Fountain Lake farm to await a draft call and to work for sister Sarah and husband David Galloway.

    1863 July Geo-biological walking tour into Iowa with two friends.

    1863 Jul-Feb 1864 Works for brother-in-law on Fountain Lake farm.

    1864 Mar-Sep Botany expedition through lower Canada.

    1864 September Begins work as mechanic at sawmill & rake & broom factory operated by Wm. Trout near Meaford, Canada; lives with Trout family.

    1866 March Factory burns; destroys JM field journals & puts him out of work.

    1866 May Returns to US; finds job at carriage plant in Indianapolis.

    1867 March Eye accident at carriage plant causes temporary blindness.

    1867 April Eyesight recovers; commits life to nature study.

    1867 September Begins 1,000 mile walk to Gulf of Mexico.

    1867 Fall Long illness in Florida; convalesces near Cedar Keys.

    1868 January Arrives in Havana, Cuba, where he spent four weeks.

    1868 early March Brief stay in New York City en route to West Coast.

    1868 late March Arrives in San Francisco via Isthmus of Panama.

    1868 Apr-Jun First visit to Yosemite via Pacheco Pass, Snelling and Crane Flat.

    1868 Summer-Spr '69 Begins job as sheepherder for John Connel, alias Smokey Jack; takes up serious study of Sierra geology & botany.

    1869 Jun-Sep Herds sheep for Pat Delany in Tuolumne Meadow region.

    1869 November Begins part-time job sawing fallen timber for J.M. Hutchings in Yosemite Valley.

    1869 Nov-1870 Oct Hikes, climbs, & studies Sierra Nevada range.

    1870 July Tours upper Yosemite with S.S. McClure and J. B. McChesney.

    1870 August Meets Prof. Joseph LeConte; joins ten day expedition to Yosemite high country, Bloody Canyon and Mono Lake.

    1870 Summer Teresa Yelverton in Yosemite, interviews Muir.

    1870 ca. Oct-Dec Returns to work for Pat Delaney along the Tuolumne River near La Grange.

    1871 January Resumes work as sawyer for Hutchings in Yosemite.

    1871 May Emerson visits Muir in Yosemite Valley.

    1871 July Unhappy with Hutchings' treatment; quits his job.

    1871 July-August Exploring expedition to Mono Lake and High Sierra back of Yosemite.

    1871 August Begins intensive glacier study as preparation for book proposed for Boston Academy of Sciences.

    1871 September First article on glaciers sent to New York Tribune.

    1871 Fall Numerous short trips to study glacial evidence in Yosemite high country, including trip to Mt. Lyell and head of Merced River.

    1871 November First trip down Tuolumne River to Hetch Hetchy.

    1871 Winter-Spr '72 Rooms at Black's Hotel; works on manuscript drafts.

  • 1872-1877 


    1872 March Eyewitness to major earthquake in Yosemite Valley.

    1872 March Muir family sells Hickory Hill farm & moves to Portage,Wisconsin.

    1872 April Builds log cabin in Yosemite Valley.

    1872 July Merrill Moores arrives to spend a few months with Muir.

    1872 July Meets Asa Gray in Yosemite Valley.

    1872 Summer Decides upon career as professional writer.

    1872 Aug-Sep Fifteen day trip to Illiluette Basin.

    1872 September Nine day trip with Merrill Moores to Hetch Hetchy.

    1872 September Ten day trip through upper half of Tuolumne Canyon.

    1872 October Meets William Keith; joins him in excursion to Mt. Ritter.

    1872 November Keith takes Muir to Bay Area; Muir meets Ina Coolbrith, Charles Warren Stoddard, other notables. Has first California photograph taken by Rulofson.

    1872 December Returns to Yosemite Valley; winter excursions to Glacier Pt., Tenaya Canyon; works on glacier articles.

    1873 ca. April Father Daniel leaves family to join a religious group at Hamilton, Canada.

    1873 Spring Works on articles for The Overland Monthly.

    1873 June Receives visitors in Yosemite: Jeanne Carr, Emily Pelton, Albert Kellogg, William Keith; Muir & Keith become close friends.

    1873 Jun-Ju1 Six week trip to High Sierra, Tuolumne Canyon with Mrs. Carr, William Keith and Albert Kellogg.

    1873 Jul-Aug Five week trip to explore entire Sierra range.

    1873 September Trip with Galen Clark, Billy Simms, Albert Kellogg through Mariposa Grove, N. Fork San Joaquin.

    1873 Sep-Oct Sixteen day trip to Kings River Canyon & through Kearsarge Pass.

    1873 Oct-Nov Climbs Mt. Whitney from East; visits Mono Lake.

    1873 Nov-Aug 1874 Moves to Oakland to write; lives at home of J.B. McChesney; meets John Swett; works on "Sierra Studies."

    1874 July Meets Dr. John Strentzel, wife and daughter Louie.

    1874 August Returns to Yosemite; accompanies J.J. Reilly on photo trip to high Sierra.

    1874 September Resumes residence at Black's Hotel.

    1874 Oct-Nov Trip to Lake Tahoe & Mt. Shasta; climbs Shasta; spends week in snowstorm at 9,000 ft. elevation.

    1874 December Completes Shasta trip; crosses divide between Yuba & Feather Rivers.

    1875 February Returns to Bay Area; resides with Swett Family in San Francisco.

    1875 Apr-May Trip to Shasta; climbs summit with Jerome Fay.

    1875 May-June Trip to Yosemite high country & Owens River with Keith, John Swett & J.B. McChesney.

    1875 July Trip to southern Sierra with George Bayley & Charles Washburn climbs Whitney July 20.

    1875 August Follows Merced River.

    1875 Sep-Nov Three month trip with mule "Brownie" through southern Sierra to study Giant Sequoia.

    1875 Winter-Spr '76 Returns to San Francisco; lives with Swett family; works on articles; meets Henry George.

    1876 Jan-Feb Joins Keith in first systematic Sierra forest conservation effort; writes newspaper articles; lobbies Sacramento lawmakers.

    1876 January First public lecture in Sacramento at Literary Institute.

    1876 Ju1-Sep As newspaper correspondent, tours central Sierra; writes series of dispatches for San Francisco Bulletin.

    1876 Oct-Nov Excursion with Coast & Geodetic Survey in Nevada & Utah.

    1876 Dec-Spr '77 Returns to Swett residence to work on articles.

    1877 May-Ju1 Excursion in Utah as Bulletin correspondent.

    1877 Aug-Sep Excursion through San Gabriel Mountains; returns to Northern Calif.; tours Santa Cruz Big Trees; climbs Mt. Hamilton lectures to State Normal School faculty (later San Jose State University)

    1877 September Conducts Shasta excursion with Asa Gray, Sir Joseph Hooker, Bidwell party.

    1877 October Six day boat trip from Bidwell Ranch to Sacramento; returns to San Francisco by steamboat.

    1877 Oct-Nov Leaves Martinez via railroad to Visalia; walks to Kings River: South Fork, Middle Fork, Converse Basin; returns to Visalia; takes railroad to Merced; builds boat at Hopetown; returns via Merced & San Joaquin Rivers to Martinez.

    1877-8 Winter Returns to San Francisco; lives with Swett family; writes & lectures.

  • 1878-1893 


    1878 Spring Many trips to Martinez; trip to headwaters of North and Middle Forks American River.

    1878 Jul-Nov As Bulletin correspondent, joins Coast & Geodetic Survey reconnaissance of 39th parallel in Utah & Nevada.

    1878 Winter-Spr '79 Establishes residence with Isaac Upham in San Francisco; begins work on bee pasture article, others for Scribners.

    1879 June Lectures on glaciers at sunday school convention in Yosemite Valley.

    1879 June Announces engagement to Louie Strentzel.

    1879 Jun-Jan 1880 First Alaska trip; Bulletin correspondent; itinerary includes Portland, Seattle, Victoria. Meets S. Hall Young at Ft. Wrangel; travel together to Sitka, Stickeen River, Fairweather Mountains, Glacier Bay. Returns to Portland January 1880.

    1880 January En route home from Alaska; trip up Columbia River; visits The Dalles; lectures in Portland.

    1880 February Returns to San Francisco; works on bee pasture article.

    1880 February Trip to Lake Tahoe with Thomas Magee; visits Bidwell ranch; returns to Martinez for stay with Strentzels.

    1880 March Takes room in San Francisco to work on articles.

    1880 April Marries Louie Wanda Strentzel, April 14.

    1880 Apr-Ju1 Rents part of Strentzel ranch; lives in Coleman house on ranch; works in orchards and vineyards to learn fruit business.

    1880 Jul-Sep Second Alaska trip as Bulletin correspondent. Travels with Thomas Magee to Victoria, Ft. Wrangel. Joins S. Hall Young and Indians on canoe trip to Glacier Bay; adventure with dog "Stickeen" August 29-30. Returns to Portland via mail steamer.

    1880 Fall-Spr '81 At home in Martinez.

    1881 March Annie Wanda Muir born in Martinez March 25.

    1881 May-Oct Third Alaska trip as Bulletin correspondent. Joins Arctic expedition aboard USS Corwin to search for lost steamer Jeannette; itinerary includes Behring St., Siberian coast. Corwin party claims discovery of Wrangel Land; takes possession for U.S.

    1881 Fall Returns to Martinez in time for grape harvest.

    1881 Fall-Nov 1882 At home in Martinez.

    1882 Nov-Mar 1883 Sisters Margaret & Sarah spend winter with Muir family at Martinez.

    1883 April Complains of being "lost & choked in agricultural needs" on the Strentzel ranch.

    1884 July First and only trip to Yosemite Valley with wife Louie.

    1884 October Robert Underwood Johnson writes to urge JM to take up his pen again.

    1884 December Sister Annie Muir arrives in Martinez for lengthy stay to recover health.

    1885 August Two week trip in Yellowstone Park; meets and travels with Mr. and Mrs. A.H. Sellers.

    1885 Aug-Oct Premonition father is dying; speeds to Portage to gather family; proceeds to Kansas City in time to see Daniel Muir the last time alive.

    1886 January Helen Lillian Muir born in Martinez January 23.

    1887 Spring Accepts offer to edit and contribute to Picturesque California.

    1888 June Trip to Lake Tahoe with C.C. Parry.

    1888 Jul-Sep Trip with Keith to Shasta & Puget Sound; climbs Mt. Rainier August 14.

    1888 August Louie Muir decides to sell or lease large portions of Strentzel estate, hoping to free JM from management responsibilities and revitalize his study & writing.

    1888 Winter-Summer 1889 Takes room sporadically in San Francisco to concentrate on writing for Picturesque California.

    1889 June Trip to Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, Tuolumne Canyon with R.U. Johnson. Decision to stimulate public interest in creation of Yosemite National Park through articles and lobby efforts.

    1889 Winter-Spr '90 Works on Yosemite articles for Century Magazine.

    1890 Jun-Aug Fourth trip to Alaska; sled trip across Muir Glacier.

    1890 September Returns to Martinez; intensive work on Yosemite campaign.

    1890 Sep-Oct Sequoia & General Grant Parks created without Kings Canyon.

    1890 October Yosemite National Park bill passes Congress & signed.

    1890 October Dr. John Strentzel dies; Muir family moves in to "Big House."

    1890 November Begins campaign to include Kings Canyon into Sequoia National Park bill.

    1891 Spring John and Margaret (Muir) Reid arrive to take over management of remaining Strentzel-Muir properties.

    1891 June Two week trip with Charles D. Robinson to South Fork Kings River.

    1892 Mar-Apr Trip to Wisconsin to help brother David with business & finances; David & family move to Alhambra Valley.

    1892 June Helps organize Sierra Club to unite West Coast conservationists.

    1892-1893 Intensive lobbying efforts to fight Caminetti Bill in Congress which proposes to reduce Yosemite Park boundaries by half.

    1892 Aug-Sep Portions of Muir-Strentzel estate sold.

    1893 May-Jun Trip East en route to Europe; visits Chicago World's Fair, Boston, New York; introduced to literati & social elite.

    1893 Jun-Sep Three month trip to Europe; visits Edinburgh, Dunbar, Norway, London, Switzerland, France, Italy, Ireland.

    1893 September Visits Washington D.C. with R.U. Johnson upon return from Europe; discusses forestry matters with Interior Dept.

    1893 October Returns to Martinez via Chicago & Portage.

    1893 December Active in campaign to create Mt. Rainier National Park.

  • 1894-1907 

     
    1894 Jan-Oct Works on chapters of Mountains of California & articles.

    1895 January Begins revising Alaska journal notes.

    1895 February Completes "Glacier Bay" article.

    1895 March Caminetti bill defeated in Congress.

    1895 Jul-Sep Five week trip from Tahoe to Tuolumne Canyon & Yosemite Valley; meets Theodore P. Lukens in Hetch Hetchy; expresses growing indignation against Yosemite Valley mismanagement by State Park Commission.

    1895 Nov-Dec Trip to southern California; visits Lukens; lectures at Throop Institute & Pasadena High School.

    1896 June Premonition of mother's illness; visits Portage in time to see his mother for the last time; travels East to receive honorary degree from Harvard; visits old friends in Milwaukee (Trouts) and Indianapolis (Moores, Merrill).

    1896 July Joins Forestry Commission in Chicago; accompanies members on inspection of Black Hills, Yellowstone, Idaho, Oregon & Washington forests.

    1896 August Fifth trip to Alaska; three weeks with Henry Fairfield Osborn.

    1896 Aug-Sep Returns to Oregon; rejoins Forestry Commission at Crater Lake; inspects southern Cascades, Santa Lucia coast range, southern California mountains, Grand Canyon, southern Sierra.

    1897 April Receives honorary degree from Univ. of Wisconsin.

    1897 Aug-Sep Sixth trip to to Alaska; five weeks with C.S. Sargent & William Canby via Banff, Alberta, Selkirk Mountains, Canadian Rockies.

    1897 Fall-Spr '98 In Martinez working on Yellowstone Park & other articles.

    1898 May Four day trip to Truckee-Tahoe area for tree study.

    1898 June Trip to Shasta and Mt. Scott, looking for specimens for C.S. Sargent.

    1898 Jul-Nov Five month trip East via Portland, Spokane, Duluth, Great Lakes, Buffalo. At Boston joins C.S. Sargent & William Canby on forest inspection tour; travels through North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Delaware. Alone, JM tours Montreal, Lake Champlain, St. Lawrence River, Maine & Vermont mountains. Rejoins Sargent & tours Florida. Returns to Martinez via Mobile, New Orleans.

    1899 May-Aug Seventh trip to Alaska; ten weeks with Harriman Alaska Expedition. Joins Harriman at Portland; boards ship in Seattle. Itinerary includes Victoria, Ft. Wrangel,Juneau, Glacier Bay, Sitka, Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, Unalaska & St. Lawrence Island. Returns to Martinez August 3.

    1900 Feb-Jun Extended illness due to "La Grippe" (flu) and bronchitis.

    1900 Aug-Sep Trip with C.H. Merriam & Vernon Bailey family; visits Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake, Bloody Canyon, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Valley.

    1901 June Trip to Portland with daughters aboard steamship.

    1901 Jun-Ju1 Four week trip with daughters to southern Sierra.

    1901 Jul-Aug Three week trip with daughters & Sierra Club to Tuolumne Meadows, Lake Tenaya.

    1902 January Ten day trip to Arizona.

    1902 Jul-Aug Five week trip to Kern River & southern Sierra with daughters & party including C.H. Merriam, T.P. Lukens, Keith, Henry Gannett; joins Sierra Club party en route.

    1903 May Three day trip with Pres. Roosevelt in Yosemite Park.

    1903 May-May,1904 Twelve month trip around the world. Joins C.S. Sargent & son in Boston. Visits London, Paris, Holland, Berlin (June, 1903); Russia, Korea, Japan, China (July-Sept). Sargents return & JM continues alone to India (Sep-Oct); Egypt (Oct- Nov); Ceylon (Nov-Dec); Australia (Dec); New Zealand (Jan-Feb 1904); Malasia, Philippines, Japan (Feb-April). Arrives in San Francisco from Hong Kong via Hawaii May 27, 1904.

    1905 Jan-Mar Yosemite Recession campaign. JM active lobbiest in Sacramento.

    1905 June Daughter Helen's health poor; JM takes both daughters to Adamana, Arizona for high desert air. Wife's health worsens while they are away; JM & Wanda rush home late June.

    1905 Aug Louie Muir dies in Martinez August 6.

    1905 Aug-Sep JM and Wanda return to Adamana to rejoin Helen.

    1905 October JM returns briefly to Martinez to settle estate; leaves again for Adamana; studies petrified forest.

    1905 Nov-Spr '06 JM returns to Martinez; engages in fossil study at UC Berkeley.

    1906 March JM replaces Wanda in Adamana; Wanda returns to Martinez to make wedding plans.

    1906 May Wanda replaces JM at Adamana; JM returns to Martinez to assess earthquake damage to property; continues fossil study at Berkeley and Stanford.

    1906 June Wanda returns; marries Thomas Rae Hanna at Martinez; moves into adobe home on ranch property; JM rejoins Helen at Adamana.

    1906 August Brings Helen back to Martinez.

    1906 October Two day trip with Helen to Calistoga & Geyserville.

    1907 May-Jun Trip to Los Angeles; visits Luken's Hemminger Flat reforestation project.

    1907 Jun-Jul One month trip with Sierra Club to Yosemite high country & Hetch Hetchy.

    1907 October Two week trip with Keith to Hetch Hetchy.

    1907 December Tours Mojave desert in search of suitable location for Helen, who has recurring bouts of pneumonia; brings her to Daggett December 21; builds cottage for her and companion on ranch of T.S. Van Dyke.

  • 1908-1914 


    1908 January Returns to Martinez to conduct ranch business; takes brief trip to Pasadena.

    1908 February Recurring attacks of "La Grippe"; unable to write "for months."

    1908 March Five day trip to Yosemite.

    1908 Mar-Apr Two week trip to southern California; visits Helen at Daggett, Sellers family in Pasadena.

    1908 June Prepares revision of Stickeen for book publication.

    1908 Jun-Ju1 Three week trip with Sierra Club to southern Sierra.

    1908 August Brief visit to Daggett.

    1908 Aug-Sep Three week stay at Pelican Bay, Oregon, as guest of E.H. Harriman; dictates autobiography.

    1908 September Trip to Muir Woods with Keith.

    1908 September Brief trip to Daggett.

    1908 December Begins work on Yosemite guidebook; spends Christmas with Helen in Daggett.

    1909 January Two week trip to Daggett and Pasadena.

    1909 Feb-Mar Six week trip to Arizona & southern California. Joined by John Burroughs at Grand Canyon; together visit Helen in Daggett; JM alone joins E.H. Harriman for special trip to lower Colorado River to study flood control problems.

    1909 April Returns to L.A. from Colorado River to care for Helen who spends five weeks in hospital with typhoid fever. Takes Helen back to Daggett for recuperation.

    1909 Apr-May Rejoins John Burroughs in Yosemite for one week visit.

    1909 June Brief visit to Daggett.

    1909 July Three week trip with Sierra Club to Yosemite & Hetch Hetchy.

    1909 August Three day trip to Lake Tahoe; two day trip to Daggett.

    1909 September Three day trip to Daggett.

    1909 October Tours Yosemite with Pres. Taft; guides Secretary of Interior Ballinger through Hetch Hetchy.

    1909 October Helen marries Buel A. Funk.

    1910 Jan-Feb Two week trip to L.A., Pasadena and Daggett.

    1910 March Yosemite trip with Henry F. Osborn & family; trip to L.A. for luncheon in honor of Andrew Carnegie.

    1910 Mar-Apr Stays with Hooker family in L.A., working on manuscript of First Summer in the Sierra.

    1910 April Completes Summer manuscript; works on Yosemite guidebook and a proposed book on animals.

    1910 May Five day trip with Hookers to Grand Canyon.

    1910 June Returns to Martinez to be with sister Margaret, who dies June 22.

    1910 July Five day trip to Shasta Springs with William Herrin.

    1910 Ju1-Aug Returns to Los Angeles to work on book manuscript.

    1910 August Weekend trip to Wm. Herrin's summer home near Shasta.

    1910 Aug-Oct In Martinez, tending to ranch matters & writing.

    1910 Oct-Nov Returns to Hooker home in Los Angeles to write.

    1910 December Brief trip to Palo Alto to visit Kellogg family.

    1910 Dec-Feb 1911 Returns to L.A. to continue work on Yosemite manuscript.

    1911 January Proposed trip to Mexico with Wm. Herrin.

    1911 Feb-Mar In Martinez on family & ranch business.

    1911 March In Los Angeles; attends Roosevelt party in Pasadena.

    1911 Apr-Jun Three month trip East on Hetch Hetchy and personal business; visits New York, Washington, Boston, New Haven (receives Yale honorary degree).

    1911 Jun-Aug Stays with New York friends, preparing South America trip.

    1911 Aug-Mar 1912 Trip to South America & Africa. Itinerary includes Amazon River (Aug-Sept); Rio De Janeiro (Sept-Oct); Buenos Aires, Chile (November); Uruguay (December). Reaches Capetown South Africa (January); Zambeze River, Baobab forests (January); Lake Victoria, Egypt (February). Returns to New York March 26.

    1912 Mar-Apr In New York, proofing Yosemite book & autobiography.

    1912 April Returns to Martinez via Los Angeles.

    1912 May In Martinez, suffering from a cold.

    1912 June Returns to L.A. to begin work on Amazon River notes.

    1912 July Trip by auto to Martinez via Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, Sequoia National Park and Yosemite.

    1912 July Weekend trip to Wm. Herrin's summer home near Shasta.

    1912 October Seven day trip to Hollywood to visit Helen & family.

    1912 October Two week trip to Yosemite Valley to attend National Parks Convention.

    1912 Nov-Spr 1913 Hires Mrs. Marion Randall Parsons as typist; begins work on Alaska journals for proposed book.

    1913 May JM and John Swett receive honorary degrees from Univ. of California at Berkeley.

    1913 August Two week trip to Island Park, Idaho as guests of Harrimans.

    1913 Fall-Winter Returns to Martinez [Los Angeles?] to work on Alaska ms.

    1914 January Suffers from severe bout of "la Grippe."

    1914 May Weekend trip to Wm. Herrin's summer home near Shasta.

    1914 August Brief trip to Shasta pine woods.

    1914 September Three day trip to Herrin summer home near Shasta.

    1914 December Trip to Daggett to visit Helen.

    1914 December Dies at California Hospital, Los Angeles, 10 A.M., Dec. 24.