Hazel Dell’s best known early residents probably were William R. and Sarah Jane Anderson, who lived on the road running north from Vancouver. Their home was a stopping place for travelers for many years.
Mrs. Anderson, whose maiden name was Sarah Jane Sturgis, had crossed the plains in 1847, and Mr. Anderson arrived about two years later. Mrs. Anderson’s father was drowned in the Snake River on the trip west, and the mother remarried, but her second husband also drowned.
From 1848 to 1850, Sarah Jane lived with her mother at what is now Vancouver. As a youngster she talked so much with the local Indians, “I forgot a considerable portion of my own language for a time,” she said. In 1851, Sarah Jane Sturgis was married to Anderson. They lived near Linnton for a while, then came to Clark County in the early 1850s.
When they moved to Hazel Dell, the land was densely timbered. One historian says the vicinity was “noted for the piling furnished for the Portland wharves.”
Although the Andersons sold off parts of their claim as the land increased in value, they still held about 60 acres at the time of Anderson’s death in 1902.
Mrs. Anderson died in 1912, while still living in what is today the heart of Hazel Dell.
Eleven of her fourteen children were reported still living at the time. Among her numerous grandchildren was Bud Anderson, a noted Vancouver pugilist of the early 1900s.
Sarah J. Anderson Elementary School in Hazel Dell is named for Mrs. Anderson.