The Gateway to Oklahoma History: Sturgell Stories Found in Oklahoma Newspapers

I’ve had some fun times exploring a new source for digitized Oklahoma newspapers, although not all the stories found are happy ones. The Gateway to Oklahoma History, one of the projects of the Oklahoma Historical Society and the University of North Texas in a partnership, has been a little gold mine of tidbits of family news. I need to add here that these tidbits were found in newspapers NOT in the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America collection.

Today, I’d like to share a few Sturgell items that I came across. Sturgell is my mother-in-law’s maiden name. It is more commonly spelled Sturgill, but her branch of the family seems to have quite consistently spelled the name with the E.

Some of the Sturgells, mostly children or grandchildren of Abijah Houston Sturgell, who died in Barry County in 1905, decided to leave Missouri and head to the wide open land of Oklahoma Territory for a life that offered new opportunities.

One of those family members was Abijah’s son, John Houston Sturgell, who was born on 15 April 1882 and died in Chickasha, Grady County, Oklahoma in 1941. However, his life might have ended much early, in sad circumstances, had medical intervention not worked.

In 1910, John was living in Caddo County, Oklahoma with wife, Della (Brooks), who was 23 years old, and sons Louis and Luther, ages 6 and 4.

The family settled in Oklahoma sometime between September 1906 (when Luther was born) and 8 October 1908, when the “will call” mail notice included a letter for Della waiting at the post office.

The Daily Democrat, 8 October 1908

Life wasn’t easy starting out in Oklahoma Territory and it was no different for the young Sturgell family.  The 23 March 1911 issue of The Chickasha Daily Express has two want ads placed by John Sturgell:

1911 Want Ads

John was looking for both a farm job and/or a fully furnished farm to rent. At the time, he and his family (I don’t know why it says “wife and child” instead of “children.”) were living at 803 Chickasha Avenue.

His quest for a job or farm must not have been successful, as on 4 June 1912, this article appeared in The Enid Daily Eagle:

The Enid Daily Eagle, June 1912

What a horrible time that must have been for John and his family, but he did survive. John didn’t pass away until 1941 and wife Della survived him by about 5 years.

On a much happier note, Mr. and Mrs. L. G. Sturgell were mentioned in The El Reno Daily Tribune on 12 October 1949. L. G. was Luther Sturgell, the elder son of John and Della. Luther and his wife were visiting her family in Calumet to celebrate her birthday and that of her nephew’s wife.

Mr. and Mrs. L. G. Sturgell and Birthday Celebration
The El Reno Daily Tribune, 12 October 1949

I learned something new about another member of this family. John had a brother, Lee Rue Sturgell, who was two years younger, born in 1884. I met Lee Rue’s daughter some years ago. She is now gone, too. However, she never mentioned that the family had lived in Oklahoma. Yet, the Anadarko Daily Democrat, dated 14 September 1910 included more mail news. There were not one, but two, letters waiting for Lee Rue’s wife, Trudie, at the post office.

Letters for Mrs. Trudie Sturgell
Anadarko Daily Democrat, 14 September 1910

Lee Rue’s son, Marlett, had been born in Missouri in September 1907. I wonder if both Lee Rue’s and John’s family made the trip to Oklahoma together c1907-1908? Lee Rue apparently decided that Oklahoma wasn’t for him and his family moved back to Barry County, Missouri about 1915.

I learned a few new things about the Sturgells today. I will have to repeat my search tactics for the other family names associated with Oklahoma.


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