J[ohn] M. Vanderbilt
Kilisnoo, near Sitka, Alaska,
February 19th, 1883.
My dear Mr. Muir,
Your long-looked for and very kind and welcome letter of December 3d reached me too late to reply by last steamer, it having been delayed in the Sitka Postoffice. We were very glad indeed to hear from you again. When the "Corwin" was here several of her officers called on us, among them Mr. Doty, who spoke of your trip to the Arctic on the "Corwin" and of the officers calling on you at your home in Martinez. We were very greatly entertained by him in conversation descriptive of your northern trip and your ranch life. I cannot realize that you are settled down to a civilized farming life, such a life in California must be perfect and joyful, and a constant summer's day. Such I have never experienced, always having lived where winter is bleak and cold. I certainly would enjoy visiting you, and so would my wife -- no doubt a little leisure time passed in California would do all of my family much good, and some day I will endeavor to spare time and means to make such a trip, and will certainly call on you and partake of your very kind offer of hospitality. Winter is now our busy time, and then herring fishing is the best.
The account given in the newspapers of the trouble here was quite correct, and I am glad that your way of looking at the affair coincides with mine. Capt. Merriman of the "Adams" and Capt. Healy of the "Corwin" both deserve much praise for the active and energetic manner in which they stopped the trouble and punished the culprits.You have travelled among these people and know what a mean miserable lot they can be when under the influence of their miserable liquor, and at all times when they think they master the situation. Capt. Merriman's course will benefit this whole section in future and make enterprise and investments safe from further molestation from the Indians. They behave well now, and liquor is also unknown to them; the consequence is that they are now industrious, sober, well dressed, and well behaved, and ask for schools and churches.A garrison was kept up here by the navy up to five weeks ago; we are now alone and feel lonesome without its company.
Fishing is still going on with us and we have taken about twenty thousand barrels of herrings since opening of the season.I think it will last quite another month. All of the herring are converted into oil, which is sold in San Francisco. Things have not worked to good advantage this season, as the expert who came out from the east to erect works and organize the outfit for fishing proved eventually unfit for the business, and the result is that much has to be done over in order to do good business. The field is certainly exceptional for extensive fishing, and is far beyond what I had anticipated. The "Favorite" is being used entirely this season for fishing purposes. Fishing since October has been carried on in the Kootznahoo Lagoon, running in back of the village towards the centre of Admiralty island.
I am sorry that Young did not come up to visit me as he promised to do. I hear from him as ever. He is very busy now with mission work at Wrangel. If all the missionaries were like Young much good would be done among the natives.
The Rev. Sheldon Jackson, D.D., comes around regularly every season and appears to be a permanent fixture in Alaska missions. He is expected out this summer to erect a church at Chilkaht.
Our Co. contemplate putting up a salmon cannery at Chilkaht this spring. Three months prospecting was done there last summer and salmon pronounced equal to Columbia River and very numerous.
Extensive excursion parties are coming this way in the summer, and the new steamer "Queen of the Pacific" is spoken of for the summer travel. The new owners of this route (P.C.S.S.Co.) are doing their best to build up the route and induce tourists to make the territory a resort.
We would like very much to see you come this way again, and hope that you will find time to come. Annie and Johnnie are growing fast and fat and we are calculating already on their future school training - it hardly seems possible that our children are growing so fast. Annie is che same sweet little thing that she always was - we would so very much like to see your dear little girl as well as yourself and wife. My wife joins me in sincere regards to you all and best wishes.
J. M. Vanderbilt.
Many thanks for your kind extension of my note. Do you still contribute to the "Century" magazine?
Kilisnoo, near Sitka, Alaska
1883 Feb 19
Original letter dimensions: 27.5 x 21 cm.
Vanderbilt, John M., "Letter from J[ohn] M. Vanderbilt to John Muir, 1883 Feb 19." (1883). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 744.
Reel 04, Image 1018
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