The magic of John Muir lives today in our public parklands and wilderness areas, the orchards and vineyards of Contra Costa County, sunsets atop Mt. Wanda, and in writings and teachings that spread the word about nature and our place in it.

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The Muir Sampler - Artifacts and Antiques
by Pat Thomas

Family stories grow up around possessions which are handed down from one generation to another. It seems the Muir family was no exception to this rule.

In 1975, according to the Will of Miriam Coleman, a grand niece of John Muir, a sampler was stitched by John Muir's mother, Ann Gilrye Muir. Mrs. Coleman donated the sampler to John Muir NHS. A statement in pencil on the back of the sampler said "Needlework done by John Muir's mother in 1815."

The sampler is currently on loan to the Muir birthplace in Dunbar, Scotland, where it hangs on a wall in the family's home at part of the fun of working with a museum collection. This feeling of fun is enhanced when one visits 128 High Street . This is the place Muir spent his childhood.

All was well and good until 1992 when a Guide at the Dunbar Muir House began to do some research on Muir's family tree and discovered in 1815 that Ann Gilyre was two years old, a little young for embroidery work.

A detailed account was sent to John Muir NHS, in Martinez, in which the conclusion was reached that the sampler was probably done by one of Ann Gilyre's older sisters. Recently, the staff at the birthplace contacted a curator and the sampler professionally cleaned and conserved, preserving it for the future.

The above story does not have earth shaking consequences. Such research is part of the fun of working with a museum collection. This feeling of fun is enhanced when one visits 128 High Street in Dunbar and view the aforesaid sampler hanging in the Muir house.

Exerpted from The View From John Muir's Window, December 1997, Newsletter of the John Muir Memorial Association.

 

 
 
 

 

 

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