John Muir National Historic Site National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior 24 Most Asked Questions about John Muir 1. Q. WHO WAS JOHN MUIR? A. He was a famous conservationist -- perhaps this country’s most famous and influential conservationist and naturalist. If it weren't for John Muir we probably would not have Yosemite National Park. He was also personally involved in creating Grand Canyon, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, and Mt. Rainier National Parks. Therefore, he is often called “The Father of Our National Park System”. John Muir co-founded the Sierra Club in 1892 and was its president until his death in 1914. John Muir was a writer, a lecturer, a geologist, a botanist, a glacier expert, an explorer, a school teacher, a Sunday school teacher, an efficiency expert, and inventor. He was a complicated, multi-talented man. Wanda Muir Hanna, elder 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) 2. Q. WHAT DID JOHN MUIR WRITE? A. He wrote over 300 magazine articles and 12 major books. 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. 3. Q. WHY DID JOHN MUIR CHOOSE TO LIVE IN MARTINEZ? A. He married 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. 4. Q. WHAT WAS THIS AREA'S POPULATION IN JOHN MUIR'S TIME? A. Martinez in 1888 - 875 people 1890 - About 1000 (statistics destroyed in fire) 1900 - 1,380 1910 - 2,115 (Martinez City Hall and Martinez City Museum) 5. Q. WAS JOHN MUIR A WEALTHY MAN? A. 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, as a sheepherder. After his marriage he became a partner in the large fruit ranch until he 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 conservation cause. Eventually, his writings and lectures brought in additional money. 6. Q. DID JOHN MUIR HAVE ANY CHILDREN? A. Yes, John and Louie had two daughters. Wanda, born March 25, 1881, died July 29, 1942 (61 years of age) Helen, born January 23, 1886, died June 7, 1964 (78 years of age) John Muir National Historic Site  4202 Alhambra Ave. Martinez, CA 94553 (925) 228-8860 EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA 7. Q. ARE THERE ANY DESCENDANTS OF JOHN MUIR? A. Yes, there were ten grandchildren – one is still living (1/10) Wanda married Thomas Hanna; they had six children: John Hanna – deceased Ross Hanna – lives in the Sacramento Valley Richard Hanna – deceased Strentzel Hanna – deceased Robert Hanna – deceased Jean Hanna de Lipkau Clark (only granddaughter) – deceased Helen married Buel Funk; they had four sons: Walter Muir – deceased Stanley Muir – deceased John Muir – deceased Muir Funk – deceased 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. (From a letter in Walter Muir’s file.) 8. Q. WAS JOHN MUIR A RELIGIOUS MAN? A. Yes, he was a very religious man, although he was not a member of any established church. He saw evidence of a divine spiritual being everywhere in nature. 9. Q. WHAT IS THE SQUARE FOOTAGE OF THE MUIR HOUSE? A. 10, 010 square feet according to the architect’s drawing. This includes all the porches, attic, and basement. 10. Q. IS THIS THE ORIGINAL FURNITURE? A. One piece of original furniture is upstairs in John Muir’s study, or “scribble den.” It is the simple flat top desk placed in front of the north windows. John Muir spent many hours writing at this desk. Another is the black marble cutting table in the kitchen. Most of the rest of the furnishings are just similar to those of the Muir family. 11. Q. WHAT KIND OF FLOORING IS IN THE MUIR HOUSE? A. The floors are Douglas fir painted to look like golden oak. The painting technique was very popular in Victo

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