Frequently Asked Questions
WHEN WAS JOHN MUIR BORN?
He was born April 21, 1838.
WHERE WAS JOHN MUIR BORN?
Muir was born in Dunbar, Scotland. Dunbar is about 28 miles east of Edinburgh.
WHO WAS JOHN MUIR?
John Muir was a writer, a lecturer, a geologist, a botanist, a glaciologist, an explorer, a school teacher, an inventor, a fruit rancher, a husband, and a father.
John Muir was perhaps this country's most famous and influential naturalist. If it weren't for John Muir and his writings, we probably would not have Yosemite National Park as we know it today. He was also involved in the creation of the Grand Canyon, Kings Canyon, Petrified Forest, and Mt. Rainier National Parks. Additionally, his writings about Alaska led to further preservation of the landscape over time. Because of his influential writings and role in the creation of multiple parks, he is often called "The Father of Our National Park System."
John Muir also co-founded the Sierra Club in 1892 and was its first president until his death in 1914.
Wanda Muir Hanna, eldest daughter of John Muir, explained her father to one of his biographers (Linnie Marsh Wolfe), "If you had known him, you would have seen only one side of him, and he had many sides. No two people -- even his closest friends ever had quite the same idea of him." (Son of the Wilderness, Preface, pg. vii).
WHAT DID JOHN MUIR WRITE?
He wrote and had published over 300 magazine articles and 12 books. These books and articles bubble over with his love of adventure, nature, wildness and the inter-connectivity of it all. At the time of his death he was working on a book about his travels in Alaska. He had plans and enough material in his notebooks for ten more books.
WHAT ARE THE NAMES OF THESE BOOKS AND WHEN WERE THEY PUBLISHED?
WHY DID JOHN MUIR CHOOSE TO LIVE IN MARTINEZ?
He married Louisa (Louie) Strentzel in 1880. Her family owned and operated a large 2600-acre ranch here in the Alhambra Valley. John Muir went into partnership with his father-in-law, Dr. John Strentzel, and for ten years directed most of his energy into managing this large fruit ranch.
WHAT WAS THE POPULATION OF MARTINEZ, CA. IN JOHN MUIR'S TIME?
Martinez in 1888 - 875 people
WAS JOHN MUIR A WEALTHY MAN?
When he was young he was not wealthy. He took odd jobs to support himself as he rambled about the United States and Canada. He worked in sawmills, on farms, in a broom factory, in a carriage factory, and as a sheepherder.
After his marriage and 10 year partnership in the fruit ranch, John had accumulated a sizeable wealth for his time and felt he had made enough to take care of his family. He then retired from active ranching and turned to writing and working for the preservation cause. Eventually, his writings and lectures brought in additional money.
DID JOHN MUIR HAVE ANY CHILDREN?
Yes, John and Louie had two daughters. Wanda, born March 25, 1881, died July 29, 1942 (61 years of age) and Helen, born January 23, 1886, died June 7, 1964 (78 years of age).
ARE THERE ANY DESCENDANTS OF JOHN MUIR?
Yes, there were ten grandchildren.
Wanda married Thomas Hanna; they had six children:
Helen married Buel Funk; they had four sons:
Helen and three of her sons changed their name from Funk to Muir in 1940. Muir Funk did not because his first name was Muir and also because he was involved in competition for a job at the time. (Information in a letter from Walter Muir).
WHAT IS THE SQUARE FOOTAGE OF THE MUIR HOUSE?
10,010 square feet according to the architect's drawing. This includes all the porches, attic, and the basement.
IS ALL THE FURNITURE IN THE HOUSE ORIGINAL?
Much of the furniture exhibited in the house is similar to furniture owned by the Muirs. Many of the original furniture pieces are still owned by family members. The architectural elements in the house are original, including the fireplaces, staircases, and stove. Authentic Muir objects are located throughout the house in exhibit cases and in the furnished rooms. One original furniture piece of interest is Muir's desk in his study. We invite you to read labels throughout the house to discover more about the mixture of original and period pieces that recreate Muir's home.
DID THEODORE ROOSEVELT EVER VISIT HERE?
No he did not, according to Helen Muir in a letter she wrote to friend Hattie in 1958.
WHAT FAMOUS PEOPLE VISITED JOHN MUIR IN THE HOUSE?
William Keith - premier California artist
Last updated: March 3, 2020