The 1851 census for Kirkmabreck Parish at a place called Muirhead, lists the household of Mr Hugh Muir, a shepherd, and his wife Elizabeth. Both were natives of Ayrshire. Included in his family was their son John, born in Minnigaff parish, aged 21 years, unmarried, and a joiner to trade. Younger siblings were born in Kirkmabreck parish. Hugh Muir took his family to America shortly after census time and settled in Kent County, Michigan. This is the story of the son John Muir.

Captain John Muir, Grand Rapids and Creetown.

CAPT. JOHN MUIR, retired boat-builder and boat-master, member of the city council, and one of the best posted business men in the city of Grand Rapids, came here direct from Scotland, August 3, 1851, and has ever since been one of the most useful and enterprising residents the Valley city has yet known.

John Muir was born in Creetown, Kirkmebreck (sic), Kirkcudbrightshire (in the south part of Scotland) January 26, 1830, and is the son of Hugh and Elizabeth (McCreath) Muir, the former of whom was a farmer by calling. The education of the future boat-builder and captain, John Muir, was excellent, the tutors of his native land being up to the present day renowned for their profundity and thorough methods in imparting their knowledge to their pupils — especially in mathematics.

Hugh Muir, on reaching America, at once settled in Kent county, Mich., and for some years was engaged in farming, but his son John having been reared to manhood in a seaport, here found himself out of his element, as there was no sea, lake, nor river in the neighborhood, and consequently no shipyard, and, as John had early been inclined to the study of watercraft and had been theoretically interested in navigation and the construction of different classes of vessels at Kirkcudbright, the means of propulsion, etc., and having been fascinated with marine architecture, he apprenticed himself to the trade of ship-carpenter, which, assisted by his profound knowledge of mathematics, he easily mastered, but at the age of twenty-one years, on his arrival in Kent county, Mich., he found his "occupation gone." Still he was a wright in wood, and by nature as well as education a mechanic, and for the first two years here he worked as a millwright; then, perceiving the possibilities of the Grand river as a navigable stream for a certain class of vessels, he commenced building boats adapted to its waters, and met with eminent success. He also studied the peculiarities of the stream, became familiar with its rapids, depths, shallows and shoals, sunken rocks and landmarks, variations of current and surface indications of safe or unsafe navigation, and eventually became the pilot supreme of the stream, no man yet having ever attained so close an intimacy with its intricacies and peculiarities as himself — that is, so far as the necessities of the city of Grand Rapids are concerned — and Capt. Muir is to-day, as he has been for many years, the chief reliance of the United States government for information concerning the river in the Grand Rapids vicinity.

For many years Capt. Muir has been a licensed pilot, his last certificate bearing date July 29, 1897, and running for five years; he also holds a certificate as master of steam vessels for the district of Michigan, including Grand Haven, and this certificate is also issued for five years, although formerly it was issued annually; besides these, he holds a United States inspector's license as chief engineer (unlimited) for five years from July 29, 1897, empowering him to act as chief engineer on any steam vessel navigating any fresh water in the United States. All the knowledge possessed by the captain is of a practical nature and not solely theoretical, but still his practice has been based on theory of the most solid character, chiefly resulting from his own powers of ratiocination, and that fact speaks for itself and may be placed to his credit.

The captain's knowledge of machinery may also be termed self-acquired, as he began as an assistant in setting up engines, then advanced to the setting up of them himself, assisted by underlings, and then became practical in running them, and became so expert that he has passed the rigid examinations before boards of engineers with success, where regular graduates in engineering met with ignominious failure — although the captain was reared as a worker in wood. These successes need no comment.

Capt. John Muir was united in marriage at Chicago, Ill., on the 19th day of September, 1853, to Miss Jane Davidson, who was born in Canada and is a daughter of John Davidson, a native of Scotland. This marriage of Capt. and Mrs. Muir has resulted in a family of nine children, born in the following order: Margaret F., who is the widow of James B. Morton and the mother of four children, viz: Janie Isabella, Elizabeth Esther, William Alexander and Grace Muir; William H. married Clara Bellamy, and is the father of two children, Hazel Caroline and William Wallace; John D. married Martha E. Kitredge, and has five children, namely Boyce K., John Keith, Marth Ruth, Kenneth Davidson and Bruce K.; Elizabeth M. ; James D. ; Andrew A., who is married to Jennie Rockwell and has one daughter, Martha Jean; David, who died at the age of nineteen years; Jessie M., wife of Arthur C. Rockwell, and has one daughter, Irene Muir; and Jeanie, wife of George B. Armstrong. The children have all been reared in the faith of the Presbyterian church, of which the father's family had been members for generations, and from which the captain received his letter of membership in 1852, on his departure from his native land, but is now a member of Park Congregational church. The unmarried children make their home at the pleasant residence of the parents. No. 59 Paris avenue, Grand Rapids, where proverbial Scotch hospitality holds full sway.

In politics Capt. Muir is a republican and has been ever since the formation of the party. He voted for John C. Fremont, the first republican candidate for the presidency of the United States, and has voted for every candidate nominated for that office by the republican party up to the present time. He has himself held aloof from office seeking, but the people of his, the Third ward, of Grand Rapids, appreciating his superior business qualifications and executive ability, insisted upon his representing them in the city council, and in 1898 elected him a member of that honorable body to serve until April, 1900, malgre lui. He has already served as a member of committees on streets, on sidewalks, on markets, on river, and on the special committee for securing pure water for the city, and as a member of the last-named committee was its chairman in its conference with the board of public works for the attainment of this all-important end. At this point the record of the captain's official usefulness closes, but it may be truthfully stated that he has performed his duties faithfully and efficiently, and what his future career officially will be is, of course, a mere matter of surmise, but much will be expected of him, and he is not a man to disappoint.

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