Frequently Asked Questions about John Muir in Marquette County

· John Muir was 11 years old when he emigrated to Wisconsin from Dunbar, Scotland in 1849.

· Father Daniel and sons John and David and daughter Sarah came first to Marquette County. They were on the ship for six weeks and three days.  They were planning on settling in Canada. On the ship, they heard about Wisconsin and land that was easier to clear as well as the building of a canal that would ease shipping of their crops (the Portage Canal). They landed in New York and travelled on the Erie Canal to Buffalo where they met William Gray, relative to Phillip Gray from Edinburgh (an Alexander Gray and wife Jane settled from Scotland in the Town of Buffalo, too.)  They arrived in spring and had a two story house built by fall when the rest of the family came to join them, arriving November 7. 

· Daniel Muir moved the family seeking religious freedom.  He disagreed with the Calvinist doctrine of election which declared that only certain people would be saved and everyone else was doomed.  He also hated patronage, the practice where the nobility chose church leaders and dictated policy.  Daniel believed in liberty and equality of all men. This was a deeply ingrained belief in Scots Highlanders.

· In Scotland, Daniel was an orphan who was brought up mostly by an older sister.  He set out on his own and became first a soldier, then a successful merchant who was known for his honesty. He entered into the business through his first wife, who had inherited it.  It was located across the street from the Gilrye (Anne's family's business).  After his first wife died, he eventually began to court Anne. 

· The Muir family consisted of:

Daniel Muir, father

Anne Muir, mother

Margaret (Maggie) who married John Reid, son of Andrew Reid, from Marquette County

Sarah who married David Galloway from Marquette County


David who married Catherine (Katy) Cairns of Marquette County


Twin sisters Mary and Anna (Annie).  Mary married a Hand son. 

Joanna, born in Marquette County 

· The Muirs left Milwaukee and travelled to Kingston where Daniel left Sarah with Daniel and John and went to find land on which to settle.  Alexander "Sandy" Gray helped him and helped move the family from Kingston. Fountain Lake was ten miles northwest of the Gray farm.

· Fountain Lake was their first home in Marquette County.  The first purchase was for 80 acres of land.  The site of the actual house is now on private property just north east of Ennis Lake in John Muir Park.  The site of the home is on the National Historic Registry.  John Muir Park is county-owned.  Part of the park is dedicated State Natural Area and a portion of the Ice Age Trail loops around the lake.

· Daniel went to Milwaukee to buy northern white pine lumber for the frame, two and a half story house.  Carpenters who worked on the house called it a palace.  It had eight rooms.

· When the Muirs first moved here, there were Ho Chunk (then called Winnebago) Indians living in the area.  Just west of the little kettle lake, the Muirs often saw smoke rising from a camp and John writes about plowing through Indian graves on Fountain Lake Farm. 

· Daniel soon bought another quarter section of land across the road to the east.

· Daniel Muir purchased what he named Hickory Hill and built a house there, moving the family from Fountain Lake in 1856.

· Sarah (John Muir's sister) and David Galloway married in 1856 and purchased (or traded) the original 80 acres of Fountain Lake farm.  David also farmed 80 other acres of Daniel Muir's as well as 80 he'd gotten for his parents.  The 80 he'd obtained for himself next to now Hickory Hill, he traded to Daniel.

· It's not known exactly when, but Daniel Muir took his children to Knight's Lake (now Mulhern Lake) to baptize them.  Although they had been baptized as infants, Thomas Campbell, the founder of the Disciples of Christ, the sect that Daniel adhered to, encouraged people to drop infant baptism because it was not in the Bible. Thomas Campbell and his son Alexander were from Ireland originally and Thomas preached Unity, Peace and Purity to change the church based on the Bible, not on man's rules. 


· As more settlers moved in, the Disciples of Christ and other sects met together to listen to "preaching elders."  Daniel was one of the best liked and was invited to many communities to preach.  He never asked for payment.  On Sundays he arrived to worship in "blacks, fringed plaid and chimney-pot hat." (Linnie-Marsh Wolfe)  He spoke quietly and gave hour and a half long sermons after hymn singing and three quarters of an hour long prayers.

· The lake began being called Ennis Lake when John Ennis bought land and built his home close to where the granite marker now stands in Muir Park.  The Ennis' were from Ireland and settled in Marquette County around the same time as the Muirs.

· In 1857, John attended the Eddy school, a log school house later rebuilt and named the Browning school (the brick schoolhouse still stands south of St. Andrew's Catholic Church west of Highway 22.).  It was in the south east corner of Marquette County near the home of Alexander Gray and next to the home of Bradford, Daniel and William Brown whose step father was an Eddy. 

· John Cairns, brother of Katy who would marry David,  and John were the culprits who put sod over the chimney of the school when they came late for a spelling bee, forcing those inside to come out. 

· John Muir took his whittled inventions to the State Fair in Madison in 1860, taking a train from Pardeeville.

· John Muir left Marquette County for the University of Wisconsin in 1861.

· Daniel Muir and wife Anne left Hickory Hill farm to the care of Margaret (Muir) and John Reid in 1861 and moved to Portage.

· John visited Marquette County in 1863 after he travelled by foot along the Wisconsin River to the Mississippi.  He stayed with sister Sarah and her husband David until 1864 when he left to join his brother David who was in Canada.

· In  1865, Daniel and Anne returned to Hickory Hill farm from Portage.

· After returning from Canada, David became a partner in a dry goods store in Portage while Dan attended medical school and Annie and Joanna became teachers.  Johanna eventually moved to Kansas City, Missouri where father Daniel eventually moved to after leaving Ontario (see below) and where he died in 1885.

· John settled in California and in 1871 tried to buy Fountain Lake farm to preserve it, but failed.

· Daniel Muir sold Hickory Hill farm to the McKays in  1873  and moved with Anne to Portage and then left for Ontario to preach.  Anne stayed in Portage. (The McKays owned the land for only a short time.

· David Galloway died in 1884.  Some say he died of a broken heart after losing his son George.

· In 1885 John visited his father in Kansas before his death and returned to Portage and Marquette County and visited childhood friends.

· In 1891, Margaret and John Reid moved to California to work on John's ranch.  David moved there in 1892.

· Anne Muir died in Portage in 1896.  Before her death, John visited her and again came to Marquette County and tried to buy Fountain Lake but failed.  It's on this trip he asked a young boy who was plowing in a field who owned the land.  That young boy was Sam McGwin who was son of Mary (Ennis) and Hugh McGwin.  He was born in the Ennis house that stood just about where the granite marker is in John Muir Park. 

· 1899, Sarah moved to California.

· 1903, sister Annie Muir died in Portage, the last of the Muir family in Wisconsin.

· 1914 John Muir died in California.

If you have not already done so, we recommend reading The Story of My Boyhood and Youth, John Muir's autobiography of his years in Scotland and Marquette County and Madison at the University. Also, Millie Stanley's book The Heart of John Muir's World is available used at online booksellers. It is about Muir in Marquette County as well written by the late local author Millie Stanley. Muir is Still Here, second edition, is also by local authors and expands the story of Muir and his neighborhood, bringing you up to today and where you can find landscapes, birds and fauna in Marquette County that Muir would have seen when he lived here. That book is available in Montello at Reader's Realm Bookstore, the Marquette County Tribune, the Montello Historic Preservation Society and B&B Candy Store. Reading these books will help you understand Muir's early years in beautiful Marquette County.