Untitled Essay, Research Paper
John Muir worked at a factory in Canada. He invented time
and money saving machines for the factories. But one day an accident changed
his whole outlook on life. As he was tightening a machine belt with a file,
the file flew out and pierced his right eye. His left eye grew dim to the
John’s friends and neighbors tried to help him and brought
doctors. Some friends read to him. Children brought him flowers and listened
to his stories. He finally began to regain his sight. His employer, grateful
for the work that he had done for his company, offered John a job as foreman
and a future partnership. But John gave up the chance to be a wealthy business
man because he wanted to use his precious sight to enjoy the creations of
On September 1, 1867, John stepped off a train in Louisville,
Kentucky. The next day he set out on foot to walk from Louisville to Florida,
a distance of 1,000 miles. In Florida, he planned to catch a boat for South
America because he was eager to observe the plants of southern lands. This
was known as the thousand-mile walk. During his journey, he would stop to
collect plant samples and write about his observations in his journal.
John was weak from the trip and thought that he would
need much more energy to travel to South America. He decided to visit Yosemite
Valley, where he would regain his strength. He took up the job as a herder
there and began to explore the area. Then he got a job as guide to the Yosemite.
Muir quickly became an expert on Yosemite. John believed that glaciers had
helped in the formation of the valley. People began to pay attention to his
ideas. Some agreed and some didn’t. John spent years studying glaciers and
tracking glaciers in the Sierra Nevada.
In 1874, Jeanne Carr introduced John Muir to Louie Wanda
because she wanted John to leave his lonely life. John first tramped the
wilderness of California, Nevada, Utah, the Pacific Northwest, and Alaska.
Then he decided that he should settle down and went to visit Louie Wanda
in the Alhambra Valley. They got married and had two daughters, Annie and
John worked on Louie’s farm for many years, but started
to miss the wilderness. Louie Wanda saw what was happening to John and decided
to let him travel to Alaska. He visited the Alaskan tribes and Glacier Bay.
In the next ten years of visit to Alaska, Muir would track glaciers and observe
John Muir will spend the rest of his life writing books
about nature and speak out for nature. He will suffer the lost of his wife
and abate his grief by observing a pertrified forest. John Muir really was
a man of the mountains.
I believe that John Muir was a very hard working and
determined man. The fact that he overcomes the struggles of his life to
accomplish all that he did makes him an even more remarkable man. I think
that it is great that there is a man that would speak out for such a wonderful
thing like nature in a time where people didn’t care. He has accomplished
so much in his life that I am surprised that he is not as well-known. He
should be written about and taught about more. John Muir can inspire a person
to care more for nature and become more considerate and passionate to it.
John Muir was born in Dunbar, Scotland, on April 21, 1838.
He had two older sisters named Margaret and Sarah and two younger brothers
named David and Daniel, Jr. and twin sisters named Mary and Annie. They were
all born in Dunbar except a younger sister, Joanna, that was born after they
moved to the United States. John’s father was Daniel Muir and John’s mother
was Ann Gilrye Muir.
Daniel was a man of strong feelings. His religious beliefs
made him put aside fun and music thinking that they were the devil’s workshop.
He believed that mealtime was a sacrament and that idle talk and laughing
had no place at the table. John was forced to memorize a passage from the
bible every day. He would be beaten if he did not recite them correctly.
John’s mother was a gentle and kind woman. She had been
brought up to appreciate poetry and art. Her parents had forbidden her to
marry Daniel because they considered him to be too strict and too passionate
in his religious views. But Ann was strong-willed and she loved Daniel.
The life of the Muir’s in Scotland would soon change.
Daniel Muir had become unhappy with the Presbyterian church of his wife’s
family so he joined the Disciples of Christ. A few of his fellow Disciples
had begun to form religious communities in North America. There they had
found rich farmland and a chance for success. On February 18, 1849, Daniel
rushed back home and told them that they would be on their way to America
in the morning. The boys were crazed with excitement, but Grandfather Gilrye
told them that they would find a lot of hard work there.
After a journey of a few months, the Muir family settled
in Marquette County, Wisconsin. Daniel Muir worked the children hard. He
had become a preacher and a strict parent who believed that when he whipped
his children, he was beating the devil out of their souls. While the children
planted, hoed, raked, and harvested, Daniel spent less time on the farm work
and more time studying his bible. When Daniel was away, John and the rest
of the family would joke and sing. The girls could take out their embroidery,
which their father considered frivolous, and John could recite a poem or
dance a highland jig.
Since John was the oldest son, he had the hardest work
on the farm. John had to split rails for fences, pry up rocks, and haul wood.
When John just turned twelve, his father sent him out to plow the first fields.
The ground had never been broken, so John had to dig out roots and guide
the plow as the oxen pulled it.
After eight years, the Muir’s farm became drained of
nutrients. They then moved to a place they called Hickory Hill. John had
to labor in the fields again. He had to clear the new land for the crops
again. It was very hard work for a boy and affected John’s health. John learned
endurance and developed strength in the ten plus years of farm work. During
that time, he also learned to respect and love the creatures of the woods
ATTENDING SCHOOL John and his brothers and sisters
did not go to school during their years of farm work. But John borrowed books
from neighbors who kept a small library. His father saw no reason to read
anything else besides the Bible and other religious text. So he would not
allow John to stay up to read after the others had gone to bed. He did allow
John to get up early in the morning to read.
It was too cold to sit still and read in the winter so
John began working in the cellar on ideas for labor-saving machines. His
first invention was a model of a sawmill. Soon he also invented many other
things like the waterwheel, thermometer, clocks, a device for lighting fire,
and a machine that would wake you up. A neighbor encouraged John to take
his inventions to Madison where he could exhibit them at the state’s agricultural
fair. His inventions were a hit at the fair and were written about in the
local newspapers. His family back at home was very happy and proud of him,
but his dad warned him to avoid the “sin of vanity”.
At the fair, John Muir met Jeanne Carr, a woman that would
change his life. Mrs. Carr was impressed with John. Her husband, Dr. Ezra
Carr, was a professor of natural science at the university. John would later
enroll into college and become a very good friend of the Carrs’. John did
not immediately enroll at the university because he had concerns about money.
Instead, he helped build iceboats, addressed advertising circulars, and drove
a coach for an insurance agent. One day he learned that he had enough money
to enroll into college, but he would have a very tight buget. He spent little
on clothes and food.
The next year at the university, John acquired a teaching
job in a one-room school. It was hard to keep up with the teachings and his
studies, but the money helped him considerably. John took chemistry and geology
with Dr. Carr and Latin and Greek classes with Dr. James Davie Butler. Both
men opened new worlds for John.
During John’s college years, the United States was suffering
through the Civil War. Many university students joined the army, but John
saw the wounded from the war and disliked it. He decided to go botanizing
in Canada to dodge the draft. His brother Daniel, Jr. had already gone to
Canada, and John planned to meet him near Niagara Falls in
1) JOHN MUIR SAVING THE WILDERNESS; Corinne J. Naden and
Blue;The Millbrook Press; 1992 2) JOHN MUIR SON OF THE WILDERNESS; Linnie Wolfe; The
Ryerson Press; 1945