Mrs. Lydia Muir Johnson
Father's early death, he became the support of his widowed mother, and her young children. Arriving at manhood, he married a Virginia girl, who brought him a beautiful face, like that of "Mary Queen of Scotts," and made his life so bright with the sunshine of her presence, that when Death claimed her, he might have had written on his heart "sacred to the memory of my wife." My father was engaged in the Hardware business, and was a great Whig, a supporter of Henry Clay, and his personal friend. He was mayor of his native city, Alexandria, Va. and was highly honored by all. I am his eldest daughter, I married in 1862. Dr. J. B. Johnson of Jefferson Co., who was a
920 N st., n.w. Washington, D. C.
address August 10th 1894.
Mr John Muir,
When you realize that I, a stranger, even in name, am taking the liberty of addressing a letter to you, you will perhaps be surprised if not offended; but when you learn, that some impulse, stronger than my own sense of the fitness of things--impels one to write, you may, while condemning, pardon one the offence.
Several years ago, when the "Muir Glacier," was first introduced to the public, and an account of your connection with it given in one of our local papers, the unusual name, and the family likeness
were so strong, that my love for the dear old Scotch name (which was my father's and eldest brother's, as well as my grandfather's) prompted me then to write and ask, "if you are in any way, related to, or connected with the Muirs of Ayr, Scotland? My grandfather John Muir, a Scotchman, came to America in 1785 or thereabout, and married in Philadelphia, a Miss Mary Lang, a scotch lass. and my father was their son. My grandfather was an Importer of Fine Woods, such as mahogany Rosewood etc., and he imported the wood and had from it, manufactured the coffin in which George Washington was buried in 1800.
At various times I have seen your name mentioned in the papers, and each time have felt almost irresistibly impelled to write and ask "if you are a member of the Ayr family of Muirs? and on last Sunday, our local paper, "The Washington Post," published an article concerning you and your pursuits, accompanying which was a woodcut, called a likeness, and although as a rule, these woodcuts are but caricatures, the likeness to my father, was too great, to be the result of accident, and so I now write, after all these promptings, and ask the question written above. My father was a man of rare mental abilities, self-educated, after his
[in margin: 921
Other JM's or relatives?]
physician of fine reputation, having a large practice while in Alex. of which city, he also was Mayor; afterward removing to this city, where he had an extensive practice. He died Jan 20th 1893, aged sixty-two years, leaving me a widow with one daughter just growing a son, who will graduate in medicine next year; and a step-daughter about 35 years of age. Not knowing your exact address, I venture this, sending it out, as Noah did the Dove, and if like it, it returns to me after many days, I shall have the satisfaction of having attempted at least, to satisfy the feelings which
so persistently haunted one, at all times, when you or your name, were the subject of conversation. If I have, in your estimation, overstepped the bounds of womanly propriety, pardon the offence, and attribute it, not to curiosity, but think of it as Tupper has it.
"A reaching forth to grasp the invisible threads of kinship," which "like cobwebs floating in the wind," oft catch events on their approach with sure and apt presentiment."
If this reaches you, and your time is not too fully occupied with other matters, I will be glad to have my uncertainty
made certain, in some way by you; and if there is relationship existing, between us, and as this world is not such a big one after all, why the time may come, when you may make up your mind that you want to see the Capital & Capitol of these United? States, and then, nothing need prevent you coming this way. Craving your pardon for this lengthy epistle I am most Respectfully
Mrs Lydia Muir Johnson
920 N st., n. w.
I have just written to a cousin, John A. Muir, who is at Grand View Sanitarium, Wernersville Pa.
Washington, D. C.
Original letter dimensions: 17.5 x 22.5 cm.
Johnson, Lydia Muir, "Letter from Mrs. Lydia Muir Johnson to John Muir, 1894 Aug 10." (1894). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 6878.
Reel 08, Image 0359
Copyright status unknown
Some letters written to John Muir may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
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.