On March 3, 1979 Phyllis Hobbs Kendall wrote a history of her grandfather, Benjamin Kingman Curtis. The three page history was originally distributed to family members on legal size paper and is shared in this Blog as it was originally written:
History of Grandfather Benjamin Kingman Curtis
He was born at Genesee, Ontario County, New York, Jan. 12, 1828. We have not yet verified names, dates, etc. concerning his parents, so will not give those details now, but he was definitely of French descent, judging from names in the family and his very dark hair and black eyes and olive skin which has carried down thru the generations distinctively. His height was 5 ft. 8 inches. He lived Lamont P.O., Tallmadge Township, Ottawa County, near Grand Rapids, Michigan many years, but lived in many placed prior to settling down on his own farm near Grand Rapids, Mich. He was married to Sarah Lavantia Card May 24th, 1851, at Park, St. Joseph, Mich. by Rev. Hershel Foster. His first son, Cyrus Jerome was born there June 1, 1852. He eventually moved to Ossian, Allegany Co. New York by time his second son Friend Charles was born July 31, 1853 and he had moved to Georgetown, Ottawa Co. Mich. when his first daughter, Sarah Ellenore Curtis was born Nov. 28, 1856. By time his third son was born, Oscar Benjamin Curtis, jan. 4, 1858 he had moved to near Grand Rapids, Lamont P.O. Tallmadge Twp. Ottawa County, Mich. where he owned his own farm, acreage not known, but it supplied all the needs of a large family thru the years they were raising their family.
They had a large comfortable home, there, as the photo of same is in our possession at this time, showing a team of oxen hitched to a wagon in front of the home, and on this farm all the rest of the children were born and raised, as follows: Cora Belle Curtis, Feb. 16, 1861, George Leslie Curtis, April 22, 1863, William Rushmer, Aug. 12, 1866, John J. June 22, 1868, but died at 4 years of age, Dec. 12, 1872. Mary Lovantia (my Mother) was born the same place near Grand Rapids, Feb. 1, 1871, and youngest child DeWilton Curtis was born, Sept. 6, 1873 same place.
Grandfather Curtis was a Sawyer or Lumberman some of the time during his early life. Was also a fine horseman. oxen were used most of the time for farm work, and the horses were used mostly for transportation. Grandfather Curtis evidently worked in the Lumber Mill prior to the birth of their daughter Ellen, as I recall a story my Mother told me that she learned from her Mother about Grandfather operating a saw mill at that time, but after moving to his own farm he had a full time job operating that, except for the time he was in the Civil War.
He enlisted Aug. 13. 1862 At Grand Rapids, Mich. and we have the record of this. Was in Company "B" 5th Regiment of the Michigan Cavalry Volunteers, commanded by Capt. David Olifont. Was discharged at Leavenworth, Kansas, June 20, 1865. Injured in left knee and hand, deafness in one ear. Also had Catarrh (better known as Sinus trouble) which he contracted near Detroit, Mich. Mar. 1863, result of typhoid fever. Reheumatism contracted near Stevensburg, Virginia, Jan. 1864 camping out in stormy weather. Was treated at St. Mary's Hospital, Detroit from Nov. 1862 to 1863. His family at the time he was in the Service were five children, oldest Cyrus Jerome 10 yrs. old and youngest Cora Belle not quite 2 yrs. old. I heard my Mother say that they had quite difficult times during the time my Grandfather had to be away, but with outside help they managed the farm fairly well. Mother said they raised practically everything they needed on their farm, having an orchard, gardens, all kinds of fowl, hogs, sheep and cattle, mostly for their own use, and of course horses for their transportation. Oh yes, I forgot to say Grandfather supplied his own horse when he enlisted but it was lost at Stevensbury, Virg. Feb. 29, 1864. He was a Corporal and furnished his own equipment as well as his own horse.
Nearly all the boys remained at home before marrying until approximately 30 yrs. or more of age, the girls marrying somewhat younger. the boys evidently felt a sense of their Father needing their help on the large farm, altho in those days girls married young and men not so young, as it was somewhat the custom to be financially established with home, etc. before taking on the responsibilities of married life. At least three of the boys at one time moved to ranches near Big Timber, Montana, and raised their families there and my Father and Mother joined them for a few years prior to moving to Alberta, Canada. The sister Ellen and her husband also moved there too, near her brothers. The daughter Cora moved to Ogden, Utah, her husband was a Railroadman, Conductor. The youngest, the son DeWilton, moved to Logan, Utah.
With all the children married and gone, Grandfather soon sold his farm and moved to Logan, Utah, where his son DeWilton lived. By the way DeWilton was called "Cap" short for Captain, after Grandfather having been in the Service, and this child was born afterwards. They only resided in Logan a few years when Grandmother Sarah Lovantia died on Dec. 14, 1891. Mother then made her home with an Aunt and Uncle. Card was their last name but do not recall their first names. My Mother married my Father, James Conroy Hobbs, May 5, 1893 in the Logan Temple at Logan, Utah. They soon moved to Pocatella, Idaho, where I was born Feb. 9th, 1895. Grandfather Curtis lived with his son DeWilton, "Cap" and his wife until he died Dec. 13, 1902. I wasn't quite 7 years old but I recall Mother coming from her home in Montana and visiting her Father as we were soon to leave for our home in Canada which we did in June 1902 so none of us ever saw him again and I never saw my Grandmother Sarah.
Mother loved the memories of her home so many years on the farm near Grand Rapids, Mich. and use to tell us about many things that happened there. Her brothers use to put her on the horses from the age of about three yrs. old and she learned to ride very well very early. They were very proud of her and when she was still just a girl 14 or 15 maybe 16, they put her on bucking horses where it took three of them to put her on one, and she always rode without accident and never rode astride in her life, as ladies in her day never rode astride, but she claimed it was easier to stay on a bucking horse on a side saddle because of the horn which was practically around one leg than to ride astride and stay on. She always had a good riding horse until she was married and began having a family, from then on she was only allowed her carriage and driving horse, which she often lamented of, but it was the Doctor's orders and that was it.
Well I seem to be getting off Grandfather Curtis story, so will mention a few more things Mother told me of her home life with her parents and then this story will end.
She often talked about the hazel and other nuts they use to gather in the Fall, some wild, and the wild berries and fruit which was canned and dried and told how they dried the corn in those days and put way potatoes and other root vegetables in root cellers and smoked their own hams and bacons, and put up eggs in salt for times when the chickens were moulting. How the boys cut huge chunks of ice on the rivers in the Winter time to put in an ice house and have things cool in hot weather. I can even remember havng ice in that manner in the early days of my life. For any the things they did not raise they bartered, or traded things they had for them, such as sale, spices, etc.