John Muir


Louie [Strentzel Muir]


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To mrs.muirPortago City,WisconsinSep. 10th, 1885.Dear Louie:I have just returned from a visit to the old people and old places about our first homes in America,ten or twelve miles to the north of this place, and am glad to hear from you at last. Your two letters dated (Aug.) 23d and 28th and the Dr.'s of the lst Sep. have just been received, one of ^hem having been forwarded from the Yellowstone, making altogether four letters from home besides Wanda's neat little notes which read and look equally well whichever side is uppermost. Now I feel better, for I had begun to despair of hearing from you at all, and the weeks since leaving home,having been crowded with novel scenes and events, seemed about as long as years.As for the old freedom I used to enjoy in the wilderness, that, like Youth and its enthusiasms,is evidently a thing of the past, though I feel that I could still do some good scientific work if the necessary leisure could be secured. Your letters and the Doctor's cheer and reassure me, as I felt that I was staying away too long and leaving my burdens for others to carry who had enough of their own, and though you encourage me to prolong my stay and reap all the benefit I can in the way of health and pleasure and knowledge, I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that the main vintage will soon be on and require my presence, to say nothing of your uncertain state of health. Therefore I mean to begin the return journey next Saturday morning by way of Chicago and Kansas City.[Willis Hand and Mary are now at Kansas City. They leave for home next Monday, and I fear I may miss them]Still another of your letters has just arrived, dated .Aug. 31, by which I learn that Wanda is quite well and grandma getting stronger, while you are not well as you should be. I have tried to get you conscious of the necessity of the utmost care of your health -- especially at present -- and again remind you of it.The Yellowstone period was, as you say, far too short, and it required bitter resolution to leave all. The trip, however, as a whole has been far from fruitless in any direction. I have gained telling glimpses of the Continent from the car windows, and have seen most of the old friends and neighbors of boyhood times who without exception were almost oppressively kind, while a two weeks' visit with mother and the family is a great satisfaction to us all, however much we might wish it extended..,.[Mother is still strong and well and alive to everything, and takes long walks to church and to visit her many old friends in town, and evidently enjoys life here. She will never leave Portage while any of the family remain here. Anna has decided at the last moment to come with me,at least as far as Kansas City, as she dreads the winter. If she can stand the fatigue she will probably come to California.Sarah is looking very sick and miserable, and I am troubled about her. She cannot bear any excitement or exertion without suffering from nervous prostration. The death of both son and husband, the breaking up of home, sale of the farm, etc. have been too heavy, and she is badly crushed. I suppose she will remain here with mother. The girls can take care of themselves, except Gracie, who is rapidly growing and will soon be a woman, and there is property enough to support her in comfort, as far as property can. John Reid has been investing some of her money in Nebraska land, and I think if she leaves Portage she will settle in Nebraska.David is tied up securely in his store. He is looking very old and gray and shows too plainly the scars of life's battles. The death of his wife, to whom he was unreservedly devoted, was a terrible blow, and her long painful illness (cancer in the breast), with its night and day waiting and watching, with the suffering of sympathy, has made sad havoc with the David Muir I used to know. Still, my visit with him to the old home and meeting all the old neighbors has brightened him up considerably, and all the rest say that it was worth my journey here just to cheer and revive Dave. He looks older than I do.


Portage City, [Wisc]

Date Original

1885 Sep 10


Original letter dimensions: 33 x 21.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 05, Image 0426

Copyright Statement

The unpublished works of John Muir are copyrighted by the Muir-Hanna Trust. To purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish or exhibit them, see

Owning Institution

University of the Pacific Library Holt-Atherton Special Collections. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.

Copyright Holder

Muir-Hanna Trust

Copyright Date


Page Number

Page 1


John Muir, correspondence, letters, author, writing, naturalist, California, correspondent, mail, message, post, exchange of letters, missive, notes, epistle