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Daniel Muir

(Obituary)

by John Muir


Published in Portage Record, Oct. 12, 1885.

Daniel Muir died Oct. 6th, 1885, in Kansas City, Mo., at the residence of his daughter, Joann, in the 82d year of his age.

Daniel Muir was always a man of marked character and will be remembered by many of his old neighbors and friends in Portage and in the town of Buffalo, where he was well-known as a pioneer, having come direct from Scotland with his family and settled there in the year 1849.

Few lives were more restless and eventful than his, few more steadily toilsome and full of enthusiastic endeavor, ever fighting his way onward unwearied toward light and truth and eternal love.

But his last years as he lay broken in body waiting for rest were full of calm divine light. Faith in God and charity to all became the end of all his teachings, and he often times spoke of the mistakes he had made in his relation toward his family and neighbors, urging those about him to be on their guard and see to it that love alone was made the guide and rule of every action.

His mother was English, his father Scotch and he was born in Manchester, England in the year 1804. When he was only six months old his mother died and he lost his father also a few months later when an elder sister became a mother to him and brought him up on a farm that belonged to a relative in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Here he lived the life of a farm servant, growing up a remarkably bright, handsome boy, delighting in athletic games and eager to excel in everything. He was notably fond of music, had a fine voice and usually took a leading part in the merry song-singing gatherings of the neighborhood. Having no money to buy a violin when he was anxious to learn to play that instrument he made one with his own hands, and ran ten miles to a neighboring village through mud and rain after dark to get strings for it.

While yet more boy than man he suddenly left home to seek his fortune with only a few shillings in his pocket, but with his head full of romantic schemes for the benefit of his sister and all the world besides.

Going to Glasgow and drifting about the great city, friendless and unknown, he was induced to enter the British Army, but remained in it only a few years, when he purchased his discharge before he had been engaged in any active service.

On leaving the Army he married and began business as a merchant in Dunbar, Scotland. Here he remained and prospered for twenty years; establishing an excellent reputation for fair dealing and enterprise. Here too his eight children were born excepting the youngest who was born in Wisconsin.

Closing out his business and selling his house and fine garden, in the planting and management of which he had always taken great pleasure, he emigrated to the wilds of America, being then 45 years of age.

He first settled on a half section of land near the Fox river about 12 miles north of Portage and remained there eight years or until it was brought under thorough cultivation. Then feeling the need of more work he purchased half a section of wild land about four miles to the eastward of the farm, to which he removed his family and began building, breaking, fencing and planting anew.

At length this second farm being thoroughly subdued and cultured, and his three sons gone to seek their fortunes elsewhere, he sold it and devoted himself solely to religious-work. As an evangelist he went from place to place in Wisconsin, Canada, and Arkansas, distributing books and tracts at his own cost, and preaching the gospel in season and out of season with a firm sustained zeal.

Not was this period of religious activity restricted to these later years, for throughout almost his whole life as soldier, merchant and farmer, as well as evangelist he was an enthusiastic believer and upholder of the gospel and it is this vivid burning belief that forms the groundwork of his character and explains its apparent contradictions. He belonged to almost every protestant denomination in turn, going from one to another, not in search of a better creed, but ever in search of a warmer and more active zeal among its members with whom he could contribute his time and money to the spread of the gospel.

Though suffering always under the disadvantage of an imperfect education, he never failed in any important undertaking and never seemed to feel himself over tasked, but by sheer force of will and continuous effort overcame all difficulties that stood in his way.

He was successful in business and bestowing much of his earning on churches and charities.

His life was singularly clean and pure. He never had a single vice excepting perhaps the vices of over-industry and over-giving. Good scripture measure “heaped up shaken together and running over” he meted out to all.

He loved little children and beneath a stern face, rigid with principles he carried a warm and tender heart.

He seemed to care not at all what people would think of him. That never was taken into consideration when work was being planned. The Bible was his guide and companion and almost the only book he ever cared to read.

About eight years ago he fell and broke a leg, and from the effects of this accident he never recovered. Unable to take his accustomed exercise he gradually failed in strength, the weight of years not previously felt began to press heavily and he was at length confined to bed. While these last weary years wore slowly away he never uttered an impatient word, and his youthful enthusiasm burned on to the end, his mind glowing like a fire beneath all its burden of age and pain, until at length he passed on into the land of light, dying like a summer day in deep peace, surrounded by his children. 

J.M.

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