Who Was Nessmuk?

George Washington Sears (Nessmuk)

George Washington Sears (Nessmuk)

It recently occurred to me that some of you may not be familiar with Nessmuk.  I would be remiss to exclude a short post or two concerning the man who was “smoothing it” over one hundred years ago.

George Washington Sears (December2, 1821 – May 1, 1890) was a writer and woodsman who gained fame with his contributions to Forest and Stream magazine (later Field and Stream magazine.) He popularized lightweight camping, canoeing and self-guided outdoor adventures. Sears often wrote under the pen name “Nessmuk” taken from an American Indian from his early childhood.

Sears was small in stature (5’3″ weighing 103 pounds.) This allowed him to use extrememly light canoes during his travels throughout the Adirondacks and Florida. He recounts his adventures in a series of letters titled Rough Notes from the Woods, Cruise of the Susan Nipper, Cruise of the Sairy Gamp and The Bucktail in Florida.

Sears also wrote a book titled Woodcraft and Camping which provided readers with instructions and tips concerning outdoor adventures.  This book has remained in print and is now public domain and is available here at SmoothingIt.com . He also wrote a book of poems titled Forest Runes.

Many would claim that Sears was an early environmentalist. However, based on his writings, it would be more accurate to state that he recognized the destruction caused by industrialization as opposed to being what we, today, would call an environmentalist.

Here is a free download of a pdf  Woodcraft and Camping

Here is a free download of a pdf Forest Runes

To view Sears’ letters to Forest and Stream, click here.


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