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Odd Wisconsin Archive

John Muir, Out-of-Touch Father


John Muir (1838-1914) was a rebellious child. When he grew up and had kids himself, they gave him a taste of his own medicine.

His father was obsessively severe, and the young Muir was unusually creative. A clash between the generations in the Muir home was probably inevitable. But when at the end of his life Muir pilloried the old man in his autobiography, his brother wrote to protest, and he toned the portrait down in later editions.

By then he had children of his own who were testing him, just as he had challenged his own father. Mrs. John H. Rogers of Portage, an old family friend, recalled a conflict between Muir and his teenage daughter Wanda, whom he had home-schooled.

"John was attending to his daughter's education," she told Society museum director Charles E. Brown, "assigning and hearing her lessons. When the girl became of high school age she wanted to go to high school. John positively refused to let her do so. The more she appealed to him, the firmer was his refusal. Wanda told him that she was going anyway. She was as determined as he. Muir told her that he would not provide any money for such an undertaking. She had some money of her own, inherited from her grandfather. So Wanda went to high school and stubborn Scotch John had to admit defeat."

[Source: Charles E. Brown Papers, box 6, folder 1]


:: Posted in Children on October 22, 2007

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