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Muir Laid to Rest Across the Bay

Nature Smiles as the Famous Naturalist is Gathered to Her Bosom

Hundreds at Funeral

Remains Placed Beside Those of His Wife in Beauty Spot Near Home

From San Francisco Chronicle, Vol, CV, X, No. 196, December 28, 1914, pg. 9.

(See also: John Muir's Gravesite)

Nature, dry-eyed after a night of weeping, looked her prettiest yesterday when friends and neighbors of John Muir tenderly laid him to rest in an entrancing little beauty spot in the Contra Costa hills.

And that was as John Muir would have wished. It was as Nature looked yesterday that the man who became famous for his love of her, liked her best. He would not have wanted her to be somber. He would have desired just such smiling skies as those of yesterday.

So, on a perfect day, with just a fleecy - clouded trace of overnight tears, the mother earth took her favored son into her arms for his everlasting sleep.

The remains of John Muir, naturalists [sic], scientist and writer, were placed beside those of his wife, Louise [sic - she went by "Louie" and is designated as such on her headstone], in the family plot at Muir. Boughs of the Sequoia gigantea, whose beauties he made known to the world, lined the grave,

Tributes were paid to the departed by the Sierra Club, of which he was president, the Wisconsin Society and old friends and neighbors. the funeral ceremonies were conducted under the joint direction of them all.


Over 100 members of the Sierra Club and the Wisconsin Society went to Muir from San Francisco and bay cities in a special train. Through fields that were the playground of Muir they trudged to his former home on the heights, whence, after simple, but beautiful services, they walked to the grave a winding mile away.

There were many Sierra Club members in the cortege who had followed John Muir over tortuous trails, had claimed mountains with him and revered him as a leader. And, as they tramped behind him in other days, admiring him for the out-of-doors man that he was, vigorous in his splendid manhood, so they went with him on his final journey yesterday.

Through fields and orchards that were vibrant with the songs of happy birds, playfellows all of John Muir, the friends and neighbors of the dead naturalist wound their way.

As the beloved body was being lowered into the grave, quail on the side hills called out their farewells and overhead, in trees Muir himself planted forty years ago, God's feathered creatures, that had come to know, and not to fear the man, sang his requiem.

It was difficult to believe that John Muir was no more. But, as Professor William Frederic Badè had said when he conducted the services at the Muir house an hour before, as long as daisies shall continue to star the fields of Scotland men will see them through the eyes of Burns.

New music is in the song of the nightingale since Keats listened to the notes from the thicket on the hill. the warble of the risking lark and the call of the cuckoo across the quiet of rural England are the "monumentum aere perennius" of Wordsworth, he had added, and for generations to come men and women who visit the mountains, streams and forests of California will choose to see them through the eyes of John Muir.

So, after all, John Muir still lives.


The special train bearing the members of the Sierra Club, Mrs. B.A. Funk, sister [sic - incorrect: they mean Muir's daughter Helen] of Muir, at whose home in Daggett the naturalist died [sic - also incorrect: John Muir died in Los Angeles at the California Hospital, not in Daggett where he first took ill]; members of the Wisconsin Society and friends, arrived at Muir [Railroad Station], in Contra Costa county, shortly before 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon. the party went at once to the Muir home, where neighbors and relatives, including Mrs. T.R. Hanna, also a sister [sic - they mean daughter] of Muir, waited.

William Frederic Badè, professor of Semitic literature at the Pacific Theological Seminary, an intimate friend of Muir, officiated. the services were beautiful in their simplicity. Badè read the Episcopal rites, and then a choir sang "Lead, Kindly Light." As homely as the services were the brief remarks by Badè that followed.

After one of the last conversations I had with John Muir, Badè said, I noted down these words of his:

"'Longest is the life that contains the largest amount of time-effacing enjoyment; of work that is a steady delight. Such a life may really comprise an eternity upon the earth.'

"Those were John Muir's words," Badè continued. "To few men is it given to realize so completely the elements of eternity - of 'time-effacing enjoyment in work' - as it was to John Muir.

"The secret of that eternity was in his soul - the soul of a child, of a poet and of a strong man, all blended in one. After an eventful day in a wind-swept forest, having mounted a lofty pine [sic - it was actually a Douglas fir] the better to enjoy the passionate music of the storms and the crash of breaking boughs and branches, his impressions found such beautiful and simple expression as this:

"'We all travel the milky way together, trees and men, but it never occurred to me until this storm day that trees are travelers in the ordinary sense. they make many journeys, not extensive ones, it is true, but our own little journeys, away and back again, are only little more than tree-wavings - many of them not so much.


"When the storm began to abate I dismounted and sauntered down through the calming woods. The storm-tones died away, and, turning toward the east, I beheld the countless hosts of the forests, hushed and tranquil, towering above one another on the slopes like a devout audience. The setting sun filled them with amber light and seemed to say, while they listed, 'My peace I give unto you.'

"This directness of apprehension," said Badè, "this irresistible charm of simplicity [sic] were a part of all that John Muir wrote, said and did. After all, it is to such men as John Muir that we must look for the sustenance of those finer feelings that keep men in touch with the spiritual meaning and beauty of the universe, and make them capable of understanding those rare souls whose insight has invested life with so much of its charm.

"'I lift mine yes to the mountains," says the psalmist, 'whence cometh my help.' Men who lift their eyes at all from the commonplace ideals of everyday life fix them on the snowy crests of human thought and achievement, thence deriving their power to hope and to toil Among those who have won title to remembrance as prophets and interpreters of nature and nature's god, John Muir rises to a moral as well as poetical altitude that will command the wondering attention of men so long as human records endure."

That was all, But it touched the hearts of all who heard it, and when the procession that formed for the march to the grave, in the most delightful of all delightful spots in the Valley of the Alhambra, it was made up of men and women unashamed of streaming tears.

Robins and larks sang along the way; the vineyards and orchards were animated with them, and one could not help thinking, on that walk to the burial place, of these opening lines in John Muir's "Story of My Boyhood and Youth":

"When I was a boy in Scotland I was fond of everything that was wild, and all my life I have been growing fonder and fonder of wild places and wild creatures. fortunately, around my native town of Dunbar, by the stormy North sea, there was no lack of wildness, though most of the land lay in smooth cultivation. With red-blooded playmates, wild as myself, I loved to wander in the fields to hear the birds sing."


The services at the graveside were brief. With uncovered heads men who had known and held a reverent love for John Muir stood with the womenfolks while the body was lowered out of sight. Before that was done a member of the Sierra Club placed on the coffin a bough of the Sequoia gigantea which the naturalist had planted with his own hand near what is now his grave.

Nearby, his hat in his hand, and sad-faced, waited Wong, for twenty-five years the faithful servant of Muir. He stood a little apart from the others. He was motionless, but there was that in his eyes that made you turn away from the sight of him with a strange something gripping at your throat.

When the ceremonies were over and the mourners moved away, Wong started off through the fields, a pathetic little figure, walking slowly alone with his grief.

Came then the shades of evening and the shadows of John Muir's pet trees crept fondly toward his grave.


The arrangements for the burial of John Muir were attended to by W.E. Colby, secretary of the Sierra Club and old friend of the naturalist, and Frank V. Cornish, who represented the Wisconsin Society and the Wisconsin University, an institution Muir worked his way through when a farm boy in that State.

They were assisted by David Muir, brother of the dead man. Mrs. T. R. Hanna and Mrs. B. A. Funk, John Muir's daughters, attended the funeral.

The pallbearers were W.E. Colby and Congressman-elect J. Arthur Elston, representing the Sierra Club; Frank V. Cornish, who represented the Wisconsin Society, and Elam Brown, Frank Swett and George Griffin, neighbors.

Among the floral tributes were a large laurel wreath with purple and gold ribbon, from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, through Robert Underwood Johnson, the secretary, and a wreath of red roses, from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, through Ripley Hitchcok, the secretary.

Among those who journeyed to Muir to pay their last respects [sic] to John Muir were the following:

Professor M. B. Anderson of Stanford, Frank V. Cornish, W. E. Colby, J. Arthur Elston, W. F. Herrin, M. E. Flors, G. S. Allison, J. P. Garlick, L. M. Kennedy, J. B. Eliot, Mrs. J. G. Walker, A. L. Walker, Sheriff R. R. Veals of Martinez, Charles Baumgarten, neighbor of Muir, Anna Sanderson, Mr. and Mrs. S. G. Stevens of Duluth, Minn.; Miss C. Pratt, Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Ross, J. G. Malboy, Katherine Hooker, Alicia Mosgrove, Emma A. Kraeger, Colonel and Mrs. W. A. Glassford, Mr. and Mrs. D. Libbey, Donald Momat, Mr. and Mrs. W. S. Gorrill, Edna Cadwalader, Mrs. W. C. Frankhauser, Mr. and Mrs. D. S. Richardson, C. Fred Burks, Fred H. Upham, E. H. Harlow, N. M. Muir, John Reed, Robert E. Cornish, Dr. W. F. Badè, Professor Robert O. Moody and Mrs. Moody, Will Magee, Fred Magee, Harold French, Mrs. J. M. French, W. P. Cahill, Miss N. Taggerd, Anita Gompertz, Professor C. B. Bradley, Miss Salina Burston, Colonel John C. Currier, Dr. C. W. Whiting, Norman D. Kelley, Mr. and Mrs. Frank B. Kerr and others

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, Vol, CV, X, No. 196, December 28, 1914, pg. 9.

Corrrections by Harold Wood, 2011.


See also in this issue:

A Tribute to John Muir: Naturalist, Writer, and Man by George Hamlin Fitch - San Francisco Chronicle - December 28, 1914

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