Reminiscences of John Muir
by Myra Honegger
(Reprinted from the
John Muir Newsletter
, v. 4 no. 1 (Winter 1993-4)
This excerpt is from the remarkable reminiscences of Mrs. Honegger. The original was hand written on lined paper in about 1984 when she was already in her mid- eighties. The total document consists of 27 typed pages and is rich in family history, local lore, and details of farm life in the first half of the century.
Myra Agnes Holliday was born August 13, 1897, the fourth and last child of William Beverly Holliday and Leonora Hall Dukes Holliday, in a ranch house built entirely of redwood from the Moraga Redwood Grove. It was located three miles south of Martinez. She married Arthur Honegger soon after World War I and moved to an almond ranch near Oakley where she raised her family of four and lived out her life.
The original manuscript is owned by Mrs. Honegger's daughter, Myra Harrison. Her
address is P.O. Box 16, Knightsen, CA 94548.
Micke Grove Historical Society
DR. STRENZEL, JOHN SWETT, AND JOHN MUIR
From the Reminiscences of Myra Honegger
Written about 1984
Each year, a day or two before Christmas, Wanda Strenzel
Muir would ride her horse to our house with oranges from the
trees at the "Adobe", litchi nuts and other little
remembrances. The Strenzel and Holliday families had been
close friends for many years. Grandpa and Grandma had six
children who were playmates with Louie Strenzel, the only
child of Dr. and Mrs. Strenzel. In these years, John Swett,
a man of distinction in the educational field in the State
of California, bought a ranch in Alhambra Valley and there
came to spend his later years away from the anxiety and
tension of life in San Francisco and the responsibilities
that went with his work. Needless to say, he had many
visitors of renown come to visit him and among these was the
noted naturalist, John Muir. Other callers came and went,
but John Muir, for the first time in his life became
enamored-with Louie Strenzel, and so they were married.
Dr. and Mrs. Strenzel had built a lovely big home on a small
knoll on the outskirts of Martinez-the building which now is
a shrine to John Muir-and there the Muirs lived. Two
daughters were born of this union, Helen and Wanda. They
saw very little of their father for the "Call of the Great
Outdoors" was in John Muir's blood and he would suddenly
disappear to be gone for many months at a time, to return
unannounced when he had completed his expedition. Louie was
loved as always, by her friends, but the local people looked
upon John Muir as a ne'er-do-well who neglected his family.
My father had many dealings with Mr. Muir because both were
lovers of things that grow. Papa had a nursery and Mr. Muir
had need of his advice and his nursery stock. I remember
[of] going with Papa when he had business there and remember
so well Mr. Muir's cluttered desk, tables and chairs. I
have often wondered how he could write such inspiring words
in such confusion. When Mr. Muir died in 1914, he was buried
under a big Eucalyptus tree on the banks of Alhambra Creek.
Bud Weaver sang in a quartet at his funeral shortly before
he married my sister Ruth and became my brother-in-law.