John Muir


[John Muir]


[Louie Strentzel Muir]



health has been suffering the meanwhile, & today I sent him half a dozen bottles of the Doctors wine to revive him. This notable liberality under the circumstances was caused by 1st His having advised me years ago to take good care of my steps on the mountains, 2d, & to get married, & 3d, for his pictures drawn for me of the bliss of having children 4th, for the sake of our mutual friends, 5th for his good looks & bad health, & half dozenth because 15 or 20 years ago on a dark night while seeking one of his patients in the Contra Costa hills he called at the house of Doctor Strentzel for directions & was invited in & got a glass of good wine.-A half dozen bottles for a half dozen reasons, “that’s consistent isn’t it”.


Oonalaska Wednesday, May 18th 1881. 6.30 P.M.

[in margin: This is the 5th letter from Oonalaska. Will write 2 more to be sent]

Dear Louie, The storm king of the north is again up & doing, rolling white combing waves through the jagged straits between this marvellous chain of islands circling them about with beaten up dashing foam & piling yet more & more snow on the clustering cloud wraped peaks. But we are safe & snug in this land locked haven enjoying the distant storm roar of wave & wind. I have just been on deck, it is snowing still & the deep bass of the gale is sounding on through the mountains How weird & wild & fascinating all this hearty work of the storm is to me. I feel a strange love of it all as I gaze shivering up the

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I mean to give a bottle to the friend of the Captains who is stationed at St Michaels & save one bottle for our first contact with the polar ice pack & one with wh to celebrate the hour of our return to home, friends, wives, ba[illegible]. We had fresh baked, stuffed codfish for breakfast of wh I ate heartily stuffing and all though the latter was gray & soft & much burdened with minced [onions?], & then I held out my plate for a spoonful of opaque [oleaginous] gravy. This last paragraph is for Grandmother as a manifestation of heroic all-enduring all-engulphing health

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dim white slopes seen as through a veil darkly becoming fainter & fainter as the flakes thicken & at length hide all the land. Last evening I went ashore with the Captain & saw the few chief men of the place & the one white woman & a good many of the [illegible]. We were kindly & cordially entertained by the agent of the Alaska Com. Co Mr Greenbaum, & while seated in his elegant parlor could hardly realize that we were in so remote & cold & silent a wilderness. While we were seated at our ease discussing Alaskan & Polar affairs a knock


came to the door & a tall hoary majestic old man slowly entered whom I at once took for the Russian priest but to whom I was introduced as Dr Holman. He shook hand with me very heartily & said Mr Muir I am glad to see you I had the pleasure of knowing you in San Francisco. Then I recognized him as the dignified old gentleman that I first met 3 or 4 years ago at the home of the Smiths at San Rafael & we had a pleasant evening together. He has been in the employ of the Alaska Com. Co here for a year caring for the health of the Companys Aleats. His own



[in margin: I am multiplying letters in case some be lost. & a thousand kisses to my child] We have not yet commenced to coal so that we will not get off for the north before Sunday. There is a schooner here that will sail for Oregon (Shoalwater Bay) in a few days by which I will send 4 or 5 letters. The 3 or 4 more that I intend writing ere we leave this port I will give to the Agent of the Company here to be forwarded by the next opportunity in case the first batch should be lost. Then others will be sent [words crossed out] from St Michael by the company’s steamer & still others from the Seal Islands, & from points where we fall in with any vessel homeward bound. Good night to all.


Oonalaska, [Alaska]

Date Original

1881 May 18


Original letter dimensions: 20 x 25 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 04, Image 0554

Collection Identifier

Online finding aid for the microform version of the John Muir Correspondence

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, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.

Owning Institution

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library. 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



2 pages


Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters



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