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Narrators: The Sturgis "Boys"

Eliza Dixon was born in Alabama 1841. Her people decided to move west and came in a flat boat 1849 over the very rapids where Muscle Shoals are located. They were in a band of emigrants, some headed for California gold fields, some for nearer points. The Dixons stayed in Illinois then moved to cheaper lands in Kansas and lived near where Emporia is now. There she saw the last ceremonial war dance of the tribe of Indians who had come from near Neosho, Missouri. With Kansas Civil War troubles the Dixons moved back to Illinois where Miss Eliza married her first husband - Sturgis. In 1870 the Sturgis family came to Caldwell County where kin-folks had already preceded them. They settled on a farm east of Hamilton in the Van Note district beyond the school where they lived over forty years. On the death of Mr. Sturgis she married a Brown and was usually called Mrs. Sturgis Brown to differentiate her from the numerous other Browns out there. She was connected by marriage or blood with several prominent families of this community; the Van Notes, Browns and Odgens.

When the Sturgis family came into the county, roads were in a poor state. Because farms were unfenced people drove into the prairies to get around a ditch and forded streams for there were no bridges. Sometimes the beaten wagon road would look like this

Lumber wagons were the usual conveyance. Mr. Judd, Mr. Ira Houghton and another man several miles to the south east were the only ones owning buggies between Hamilton and Lincoln township. Later, spring wagons came to be common.

The Van Note school building was built 1871 and Mrs. Brown's two oldest sons Charles and John began their schooling that day. The first teacher was "old Man" (Geo.) Moffit, father of Will and Andy Moffit - the cabinet makers in Hamilton during the 80's and 90's. John received a large reward of merit composed of several coupons which was a high honor. Another teacher was Anna Watson (Kaufman) of Nettleton. Of all those early neighbors of 1870 only two women are left: Mrs. Elizabeth Dawson and Mrs. Sarah Gurley. Mrs. Brown herself died a few years ago.

Interview taken March 1934.

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