Reader: John Muir often visited Stockton

Lori Silvaggio Hughes writes:
“It was really fun to see my husband’s grandfather mentioned in your column on March 31, 2014, “John Muir’s connection to Stockton”.  My husband is Edward D. Hughes.  His grandfather was Edward D. Hughes and was the principal of El Dorado School, a naturalist, and a very good friend of John Muir. 
“His wife (who was initially one of his students!) told the family often (and the story is still tossed about) that she would go “out in the yard and kill a chicken or two when John came for his frequent visits.”  He would arrive in Stockton after long treks in the Sierra Nevada and shared very colorful stories; some published, of course, and some in the form of what is now folk legend within my extended family.  The Edward D. Hughes family lived on Park Street in Stockton, and that is where Muir visited. 
“My husband has in his possession an original  letter from John Muir to his  grandfather, Edward D. Hughes. The letter describes his travels in Lassen Park and his love of the flora there. William Comfort (Santa Cruz resident, and cousin), has at least one letter as well. The letters are addressed to 423 East Park Street, Stockton, in their original envelopes. My husband also has other inscribed items that Muir gave his grandfather and grandmother.
“My husband is a naturalist as well, a graduate of U.C. Davis in agricultural science, a long lover of the Sierras, and a survivor of many treks into the Sierra Nevada wilderness.  His father, William Hughes, was a scientist with Shell Laboratories in Modesto and developed many agricultural advances that contributed to the central valley’s crop successes over the last decades.  William Hughes also was president of the Native Plants Society  The love of the natural world is a way of life for the family.  Certainly the inspiration and collaboration of John Muir  is a significant part of the family’s history. 
“My husband is now retired, having spent his lifetime as a winemaker…a very happy and rewarding part of the natural sciences. We now live here in Stockton …  We consider this part of the world, and this city, a truly remarkable place, just as Muir did.  And frankly, we don’t have a single family story, with or without John Muir, that mentions mosquito angst or fear.  Go figure.”
I knew Stockton had to be one of Muir’s haunts.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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