Following Friends’ treasurer Will Collin’s talk to the Gifford Society in late February, he received a phone call from a gentleman in Gifford wishing to donate some books on the history of Dunbar and three John Muir ones to Dunbar and District History Society and Friends. Will gratefully collected them on 17 March and was taken aback to find the Muir books, all first editions, were ‘The Mountains of California’ and two copies of ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’.
1. The copy of ‘The Mountains of California’, published in 1894 by The Century Co., is inscribed on the flyleaf “To Rev Hugh Ross with very best wishes of his friend Thomas Magee, San Francisco, Oct 14/96.”
2. One copy of ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1913, has a card attached to flyleaf reading “From Mrs W H Averell, 325 East Avenue, Rochester, New York”
3. The other copy of ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’ is inscribed on the flyleaf “To Mr Thomas T Bisset, with sincere regard, John Muir, Martinez, California, January 1914”.
Thomas Magee and Mrs Averell were friends of Muir although so far no trace has been found of Rev Hugh Ross. Clearly, though, the most important is the one inscribed in the unmistakable hand of John Muir. It is doubly so in that the recipient was T T Bissett, a Dunbar photographer of note and publisher of the Bissett Series of postcards some of which are among the Muir Papers at the University of the Pacific. Research on all three is continuing and more details will appear in the next Friends’ newsletter.