Hist. Soc. Mus. Recollections of John Muir by Grace Sterling Lindsley. During the discussion of Dean Russell's paper on the Life of John Muir, at the meeting of the Ivla.dison Literary Club onDeo. 9th, 1935, Dr. Birge asked whether John Muir had ever been in .Madison siruie his r Univers i ty days. I am glad to b e abl e to a.nswer tha t question. He was here to my knowledge in 1896. As to any other bisit I cannot say. In 1896 I was visiting my mother, Mrs. J.W. Sterling, in our family home, 811 State Street where the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity House now sta.nds. John Muir celled on us there, probably in the early part of June, a s he told us he was on his way East to receive a Degree from one of th e Eas tern Uni ver si ti es -- probabl;yr_ Y ale. I recall tha t he said: 11 I don't know why those fellows want to give me a Degree, but sin ce they do I suppos e I 111 h e. ve to go and. recei ve i to 11 I can verify the year 1896 as accurate from the fact that I llad with me my two little boys who were then three and four years old respec- l tively. John Muir took them on h :ts kneew and told them of his en­counter with a bear in California. How he was on -one side of a log and the b ear on the other, and how they cuffed each o ther over the log, until the bear - dignity evidently offended - turned and ran off. Earlier recollections of John Muir concern the time when he was a student in the University. My si ster Susan and brother Charles and I were very small children. In fact I think Charlme must have been an infant too young to be a visitar with Sue and myself to John Muir 1 s room in the old North Dormit~ry. I can vividly recall the tall clock which he made, arrl which was connected with hisbed in such a way that when the time carne for which he ha d set it, the mechanism wa.s released which tipped up the bed and threw the occupant on the floor, and at the same time struck a match and lighted a candle or perhaps it was an alchol lamp at the foot of the bed. He enter­tained us by putting us on the bed, and setting the clock so that in a minute or two we were thrown off. I also recall, though not so clearly, the revolving which held the books he studied. It gave him a prescribed time to study a lesson, and. then revolved, bringing into place the next booko My mother who had a keen sense rf' humor, told him the invention did not go far enough; that he ought to have so arranged it that if he (hadn' t properly learned. the les son, a hHnd. would come up and box his ears. During our visit to John Muir's room he treated. us to crackers spread. wi th j am. on our return to our ow n rooms in Sou th Dormitol'Y we told. our mother of the crackers and jam, and she said it probably robbed him of his next me al, for he and. other boys "boarded themselves," living on very simple and restricted fare, though probably supplemented by such things as could be brought frorm their homes. The last observa.ti ons are not from my own knowledge byt from memor­ies of conversations and from letters of my parents which we have preserved for many years. Madison, Wis., Dec. 31 , 1935. Grace Sterling Lindsley


Madison, Wis.

Date Original


Resource Identifier

MSS048 Va.10

Copyright Statement

Some material related 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.

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.