Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Muir, John

MUIR, John, naturalist, b. in Dunbar, Scotland, 21 April, 1838. His father, Daniel, was a grain merchant, and on the side of his mother, Anne Gilrye, he is descended from the ancient family of Gilderoy. When he was twelve years old, in 1850, he came to this country with his father, who settled in the wilderness near Fox river, Wisconsin. The boy worked on the farm, read, and studied out inventions such as mill-wheels and wooden clocks. He entered the University of Wisconsin in 1860, and there pursued a scientific course. At the end of his four years he set out on a botanizing tour, wandering in the southern states, in Cuba, and in California, where he settled in April, 1868, making the Yosemite his home. He had planned to explore the Amazon valley and to classify its flora, but malaria forced him to abandon his purpose. Here he continued his studies in natural history, supporting himself by herding sheep or working in a saw-mill. He saved a few hundred dollars, and then devoted himself to a systematic survey of the Sierras. In 1876 he joined a party connected with the geodetic survey of the Great Basin, and three years later, in 1879, he made a tour of exploration in Alaska, where he discovered the great glacier that is now named after him. In 1881 he was one of the party on the “Corwin” in search of the crew of the lost “Jeannette.” He was one of the first to make known the beauties of the Yosemite, and it was due in no small measure to his papers on “The Treasures of the Yosemite” in the “Century” for August and September, 1890, that the Yosemite national park was established by the government. In 1896 he was made an honorary A. M. by Harvard. Mr. Muir has written for the “Atlantic,” “Harper's,” “Overland Monthly,” and “Scribner's,” and he published in book-form “The Mountains of California” (New York, 1894).