BERNARD HOFFMAN, WHO ATTENDED THE DIXIE SCHOOL IN THE LATE 1800’S AND SERVED AS BOARD TRUSTEE IN THE DISTRICT FOR 67 YEARS HAS RECORDED THE FOLLOWING ANECDOTAL RECOLLECTIONS:
“The Miller’s had a private Station just below St. Vincent’s Station. It contained about two acres or more, and the four sides were planted with cypress and eucalyptus trees. It had many side tracts there and at the south side of the tract there was a milk platform where the milk was taken on from the two Miller ranches and the returned cans gotten. They got the seed for the growing crops and mill feed and etc. The family used the train whenever they went to the city and also the working people. Just opposite the gate to the station there were two cottages. In one lived a tenant by the name of Andy Taylor whose daughter attended Dixie School, and whose father worked at St. Vincent’s. In the other cottage a man by the name of Defrees lived with his friend. At the far end of south with about two acres or more lived a family with a large family by the name of Petersen whose children attended the Dixie School, but not in my time. Mr. Petersen was a captain who worked on one of the many schooners that ran from the brick yard back and forth, the landing of brick to the city, and returning with hay, grain, etc. The Petersen’s used the Las Gallinas station whenever they went to town or city. It was much easier and there was no road but up the tract to the house. These roads were up along the Miller fence to the station and then up to the county road. Mrs. Petersen ran a saloon and had goats and chickens.
The Miller’s came from a very large and grown family, and very rich. They immigrated from Ireland and were here many years before Don Timothy and had vast property in country, I was told. There were many Indians and Spanish people here then.
The Lucas’ came later in years.
When the State Highway was constructed, the Miller’s gave land on both sides of the highway every time they widened the road. I will start with the Station at Novato where everything was sent by railroad shipment of all kinds with many side tracts and mail. The next Station was Ignacio, the same as Novato. The next Station was St. Vincent where things were shipped by rail and where the mail was taken and set up on a platform with side tracts. The next Station was the Miller’s where things were sent with many side tracts. There was also a platform where the milk from the upper and lower ranch was hauled to and where the Miller family and working people used to come and go. This Station consisted of an acre of ground. It was planted around by cypress and eucalyptus trees. The next Station was the Gallinas Station known as the patent brick company where things were also shipped, now the Smith ranch. And the next Station was the Forbes station and the next was San Rafael,
The first Superintendent of Schools was Mr. Rober Furlong and his sister was one of the many servants of the Miller Mansion. She was Miss Johanna Furlong the cook.
Dr. Furlong is one of the younger Furlongs in San Rafael, the eye doctor.
The next Superintendent was Mr. Davidson, then came Mr. Wendell, Mr. Greer, Mr. Hall and Mr. Hollis. All very fine men.
My first teacher at the Dixie School was Miss Kirk, then Miss Redmond, who taught and stayed at the Miller Mansion. In those times all teachers were compelled to live in the district where they taught. My next teacher was Miss McDonnell who stayed at one of the neighbors in the district.
When Mrs. Lucas sold part of the ranch in the Lucas Valley for a hospital, now known as the Nunas ranch, the hospital was known as the Poor Farm. Then there was no suitable road to it so the Miller’s gave them the right of way from the Dixie School entrance to the Hospital which still stands. The road in the Lucas Valley was around hills, and later they built the road in the valley.
My first teacher, Miss Kirk, was the sister of Mr. Joseph Kirk, a lawyer for the board of trade. Mr. Kirk was married to one of the youngest sister of the Miller family, Miss Josephine Miller. After teaching in the Dixie School, Miss Kirk joined the sisters in San Rafael Dominican Convent, and was known as Mother Desales.”