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THE GURLEY FAMILY IN EXCELSIOR DISTRICT

Narrator: Mrs. Sarah Gurley, 89, of Hamilton, Missouri

Sarah E. Raymer of Ontario New York was born 1845, the daughter of Henry Raymer and Phoebe Mead. She married George C. Gurley January 1868 and in the same year the young couple came to Caldwell County. He had met George Putnam of this county in the east and Putnam had urged him to come out here. When they came they spent the first day and night at the old Hamilton House south of the depot. The landlord then was Mr. Brosius and his son was merchant here.

Mr. Gurley bought eighty acres of the railroad at $12 an acre from George Lamson, agent for the railroad. While he was fixing up a home, Mrs. Gurley lived in the home of George Putnam, who at that time lived just outside Hamilton on the north which afterwards was the Lindley home.

George Putnam was an early character about Hamilton, a stockman and farmer and later in charge of the scales at the stock yards. His worst fault was drunkenness. He later lived on a farm east of town near the Penney place and later in town in the present Dawson home. His first wife was a sister of Myron Walling's wife. He died over forty years ago. The entire family lie in the old cemetery.

Some of the outstanding events in the many years spent by Mrs. Gurley on the old farm were the terrible winds; one night in 1876 their two room house blew over; fear of Indians who yet traveled the roads in small groups, Mrs. Gurley gathered switches and hung them over the front door, the idea being that the Indians in fear of switches would stay away; the James boys, who never came their way; great rattle snakes, which appeared even in the door yards; the wild deer used to graze in their neighborhood the first year or so. One morning as they awoke early, there was quite a herd in the yard, but Mr. Gurley would not shoot them lest they belong to some distant neighbor.

Their neighbors those first two years were rather distant - the nearest was John Haigh, whose wife was a very eccentric and energetic woman, walking four miles to Hamilton to wash for Mrs. T.D. George and then walking back in the evening. Other neighbors were the Markwitz family and Chas. Rook.

They traveled much on horse or in lumber wagons. Finally Mr. Gurley and Billy Mapes (brother of Mrs. Etta Naylor) built a spring buggy, seating two people, which was quite a fine job. Often as they forded streams the water came to the wagon hubs, but the stream was so narrow that there was little danger.

The Gurley boys went to school first in a building on the Clampitt place, then over to Van Note 1873 then to their own new school house in the Excelsior district. Mr. Gurley shipped fine driving horses back east besides farming and he had just returned from such a trip when he died, over forty years ago. The Gurley farm has never changed hands. Chas. Gurley, a son has it now.

Interviewed July 1934.

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All photos are copyright KingsCross Farm, 1997 & 1998
All written material other than reference material copyright KingsCross Farm 1998