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Reminiscences of John Muir

by Myra Honegger

(Reprinted from the John Muir Newsletter , v. 4 no. 1 (Winter 1993-4)

Transcriber's Notes

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.

Robert Shellenberger,
Micke Grove Historical Society


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.

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