Saturday, November 10, 2007

Friend Curtis newspaper articles

When searching for clues about Friend Curtis being the possible father of Benjamin Kingman Curtis, I discovered a few newspaper articles about Friend that were published in the 1850's. The Western Chronicle was the first newspaper printed in Saint Joseph County, Michigan and a name index to the paper for 1849-1864 is available on microfiche at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City (fiche 6332812). The original newspapers are on microfilm at the Three Rivers Public Library, located in Three Rivers, Michigan. I hired a researcher in the area to make copies of the newspaper articles for all the Curtis names in the index:

David W. Curtis (6 Dec 1860 news item)

Friend Curtis (deceased) Mottville, had the following legal notices in the paper:
  • 9 Nov 1850 through 1 March 1851
  • 1 Jan 1857 through 15 Jan 1957
Melissa Curtis (all legal notices)
  • 9 Nov 1850 through 4 Jan 1851
  • 1 Jan 1857 through 15 Jan 1857
Northrop Curtis and Hellen Schellhous (marriage announcement 21 Dec 1850)

Norton S. Curtis (legal notices during all of July 1850)

Seth Curtis (news item 12 Jan 1850)

T. M. Curtis (news item 14 Oct 1858)

There were two other names in the newspaper index that I obtained copies of:
  1. Rev. Herschel Foster was mentioned in a news article on 1 Jan 1857 and 29 Jan 1857. The reason I wanted copies of his news articles was because I was looking for church records that recorded the marriages performed by Rev. Foster. I discovered in Benjamin Kingman Curtis' Civil War pension papers that Benjamin filled out a form stating that he was married by "Rev. Hershel Foster." Several people have looked for Rev. Foster's church records but they have still not been located. We do not know what church Rev. Foster belonged to, so we are looking at all church records that are available in the area.
  2. Benjamin married Sarah Lavantia Card. Both Benjamin, Sarah and some of her family were living in Park township during the 1850 census. Sarah's father, William Fuller Card, died in Park twp on 20 Aug 1846, five years prior to Benjamin and Sarah's marriage on 24 May 1851. Legal news for William F. Card was published in the newspaper from 9 Nov 1850 through 12 April 1851. The articles mentioned that Cyrus W. Card was the administrator of the estate. Cyrus was the son of William, and brother to Sarah.

The name Imogene

I discovered something new the other night. After I typed the 1934 letters into this Blog, I noticed that in my Legacy database that Benjamin had a great-granddaughter named Imogene. In my database I have her listed as Irma Jean or Imogene. The 1934 letter I posted earlier in this Blog stated that Benjamin had a niece named Imogene, so it's possible that this great-granddaughter was named after Benjamin's niece. Amazing, the clues that are right at our finger tips!!! Some of the descendants have searched census and other records for the name Imogene in Michigan. Feel free to post the results of your searches in the comments of this blog post.

Clues in a name

One research method that is often used when conducting family history research is evaluating the names of the children because they were often named after family members. Naming patterns have been documented for different periods of time and localities. One typical naming pattern is:

1st son - named after father's father
2nd son - named after mother's father
3rd son - named after father
4th son - named after father's oldest brother
5th son - named after mother's oldest brother
1st daughter - named after mother's mother
2nd daughter - named after father's mother
3rd daughter - named after mother
4th daughter - named after mother's oldest sister
5th daughter - named after father's oldest sister

(see for this naming tradition)

Maybe the names of Benjamin and Sarah's child hold clues to the names of Benjamin's parents and siblings. I will compare this naming pattern to the names of the Curtis children:

Cyrus Jerome was the first son. If he was named after his father's father, then we would expect that Benjamin's father was named either Cyrus or Jerome. What we know so far is that Sarah, the mother, had a brother named Cyrus William and he was the oldest son in his family.

Friend Charles was the second son. If he was named after his mother's father, his name would have been something along the line of William Fuller CARD. So the tradition or naming pattern doesn't hold true with this child. What we do know is that the mother Sarah had a brother named Charles who was the second son in the family and he died when he was 15 years old. We also know that there was another Curtis family living in the same locality where Benjamin and Sarah were married. The father of that family was Friend Curtis, who was born in 1797. We do not know if there is a relationship between Benjamin and this older man named Friend. (see the other blog post that discusses this possibility.

Sarah Ellenor was the first daughter. Both the mother and the grandmother were named Sarah, so the naming pattern holds true in this case. We do not know if Ellenor is a family name on Benjamin's side.

Oscar Benjamin was the third son. The naming pattern is partially affirmative because we would expect this child to be named after the father. In this case, the father's name is Benjamin Kingman, so the middle name for this child likely was the father's namesake. The name Oscar is not on Sarah's side of the family and we do not know if the name comes from Benjamin's side of the family.

Cora Belle was the second daughter. Based upon the naming customs, we would expect that she might be named after Benjamin's mother. Since Sarah doesn't have the name in her ancestry, we expect that someday we will find the name in Benjamin's genealogy. We also have records stating that Cora's name was Clara, so either of those names might appear in her father's ancestry.

George Leslie was the fourth son and would expect that he was named after Benjamin's oldest brother. Sarah does not have any family members that this name, so perhaps the naming customs will hold true and this name will be found among Benjamin's side of the family.

William Rushmer was the fifth son and the naming patterns state that this child is typically named after the mother's oldest brother. When looking at the genealogy we find that Sarah's oldest brother was named Cyrus William Card. So the naming pattern is true.

John J. was the sixth son in the family. The naming tradition for this child is that they are typically named after the father's second oldest brother. The name John does not appear in Sarah's family, so perhaps this will eventually be found to be true.

Mary Lavantia was the third daughter in the family. We would expect that she would be named after her mother. In this case, the naming custom holds true because Lavantia is the mother Sarah's middle name. It is also interesting to note that Sarah had a sister named Mary who was the third daughter in the CARD family.

DeWilton Emory was the seventh son in the family. Naming customs and patterns for this child are unknown. We do know that DeWilton is a family name on Sarah's side, because her third oldest brother was also named DeWilton.

In summary, when we find the names of Benjamin's parents and siblings, don't be too surprised if some of their names are: Jerome, George, Friend, Leslie, Rushmer, Oscar, John J., Emory, Ellenor, Cora, Clara, or Belle.

Friday, November 09, 2007

History of Grandfather

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.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Letter stating Benjamin's full name

Mary Hobbs, daughter of Benjamin and Sarah Curtis wrote a letter to the National Archives in 1938. She wanted to find out if her father's Civil War military records contained information about the names of her grandparents. Today, we might assume that everyone knows who their grandparents are, but such is not the case. I feel very blessed to have spent lots of time with my grandparents when I was a child. I knew them. I knew their names, where they lived, and I know where they are buried. I can't imagine what it would be like to not know anything about my grandparents. In this letter that Mary wrote, we have the only record known to exist that is at least partially official that states Benjamin's full name. Some descendants have questioned his middle name, thinking the wrong name had been recorded in our family records. I am glad that I found this letter, because if anyone would have known what was Benjamin's full name, it would have been his wife or his children. Thank you Mary for writing this letter to ask if the military service records had record of the parent's names for "Benjamin Kingman Curtis," your father.

Clues from two 1934 letters

In the 1930s, Clifford Brown corresponded with Villa Resevear about the Curtis family. I obtained copies of their letters through a descendant of Benjamin Kingman Curtis. I would like to find a descendant of Clifford Brown to see if their family has more information about what Clifford knew about Benjamin's ancestors ... the information Clifford wrote in two 1934 letters was new to all of us today:

Silver Bow Mont.
May 31st, 1934
Dear Villa,
Actually I am not certain that I answered your letter. I have about forty letters out and I just had to rack my brain all the time to think whether I owed this one or that one a letter, so now I have started a system of keeping copies of all letters so I will know where I stand. Since I heard from you, also heard from George. Hoping that he will drop in some day for he is not so terrible far from us you know.

You know I wrote your father the same time I did to you and his letter was returned to me. Suppose that it is because I had no street address on it. Now I want to bother you and as long as he is there cannot you fill out this sheet some time for me? Will be very glad to have it, with that it will make me about complete on all of the children of B.K. Curtis.

Have heard from none of the others besides you and George, but hope to some of these days. Say Villa will you ask your father if he ever heard your mother say anything about her father or any relatives. I am just trying my hardest to get just a little hint from some where that I might work on. I wrote to Washington to find out a little about your grandfather and they wrote me as follows "The records of this office show that Benj Curtis name not found as Benj Kingman Curtis, was enrolled Aug 14, 1862 at Tallmage Michigan for a period of three years; was mustered into service Aug 27 1862 at Detroit Michigan as a corporal of Co B, 5th Regt Mich Volunteer Cavalry; he was mustered out with the company and honorably discharged the service June 20 1865 at Ft Leavenworth Kansas as a Corp."

That is the most that I have on him out side of dates etc Now if I could only find out who his parents were, or if his half sister married and had a family. I feel I will get it sometime but it dont seem to come fast enough.

Friend Curtis saw Cap and had quite a talk with him. He was to see the folks before they returned to Calif but they did not get to see him. I have been writing to one of his daughters Mrs. Grace White at Bancroft Idaho, dont know how she feels about it. Did I send you a pedigree sheet? If not I will do so when I hear from you again. Hoping to hear from you soon, as ever


I was completely blown away when I saw the words, "if his half sister married." That little piece of knowledge has been lost to our family for over sixty years. No one today knew that Benjamin had a half sister. A tiny little clue on a letter that was written so many years ago. What else is out there in the homes and attics of all the descendants of Benjamin Kingman Curtis?

The envelope had a return address of Silver Bow Montana. Villa was living in Taft, California. The second letter was written two months later and you will never guess what else Clifford knew about Benjamin's family:

Aug 6, 1934
Dear Villa,

Am a little late in answering your last letter, part of the time being taken up in writing to Madge and to aunt Minnie. It seems that no one knows when Uncle Charlie was back in Michigan to visit, but Aunt Minnie says it was not until after the family came west. This being the case all that we know is that he visited them before they left Michigan, that B K Curtis' half sister married a man that owned a flour mill, also that they had a daughter named "Imogene". We also know that B.K. had a brother who was drowned when he was a young man. That is all that we have to work on with the exception that your grandfather did not like the Kingman part of his name and did not use it even when he enlisted in the army.

With the above facts, as meager as they are, I hope that your fathers sister can do something for us. I am sure it would be a great thing to get a start back on the Curtis line and that very Kingman name may be a starter on it. Please let me know as soon as possible what can be done in the matter. If I can get something from that source I may have something to work on.

Florence and myself and our daughter Gladys were in Cardston Canada for a week. Met several of your relatives, the Cards there. They are mighty fine people. Seems like they have one of the old fashioned towns there. Kind of peaceful and one enjoys the lack of the noisy towns like we have down here in the USA. Returned home through the Glacier park. Certainly a grand drive.

Never heard from Card to fill out what will complete his record but expect I will later on. Also am short on Wylie when I get them I will have your folks complete.

Oh yes, for got to tell you we saw Fred Curtis and his wife and children. He is nice isnt he? Has a fine little woman and two nice kiddies too. I think their address is Browning, the same as Delberts.

Have several more letters to write today so will close for this time,

As ever

Absolutely amazing!!! Benjamin has a half sister, a brother-in-law, a niece named Imogene, and a brother who drowned when he was a young man. In two short letters we learned a lot about Benjamin's extended family. I remember hearing a story about Benjamin's son who drowned as a child, so I'm wondering if the story got mixed up over the years. I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know that Benjamin had a son named John J. Curtis who was born in 1868 and died in 1873. I just don't know if John's death was caused from drowning, but the family farm had a stream or river running along the property line, so maybe there were two family members who died of drowning.

I'll end this post with a plea to keep looking for letters and other family heirlooms that hold the clues we need to solve the mystery of the names of Benjamin's parents and siblings.

Is Friend Curtis the father of Benjamin?

With the question surfacing recently about the possible parents of Benjamin's being Friend Curtis and Elizabeth Blossom, I thought that I would share the research information I have on the possible connection. Based upon the details in Friend's Last Will and Testament, I do not believe Friend was Benjamin's father. However, there is a good chance that Friend is an uncle, or maybe an older sibling. The notes that I have in my Legacy database include:

FHL US film 1573645, item 8, (929.273 C946ca) "A Genealogy of the Curtis-Curtiss Family of Stratford Connecticut: a supplement to the 1903 edition," page 52. This history and his cemetery record combined, gives us a calculated birth year. The history also cites a record of marriage "Pawlet, Vt Vital Records has Friend Curtis m. Sept 13, 1812 Betsey Blossom. Friend m. 2nd M____ for "Sarah dau. of Friend and M. Curtiss d. Aug 10, 1865 ae. 19-4-10." Friend's date of death is also stated in the history. The small section in the book that contains information about Friend is as follows:

"Pawlet, Vt. V.R. has Friend Curtiss m. Sept. 13, 1812 Betsey Blossom. This Friend Curtiss removed at once to Genoa, Cayuga Co. and bought land next to Dorus Curtiss's land. This Dorus being son of Moses and w. Sarah and b. 1794. In 1814 Friend and w. Elizabeth sold out to Josiah Todd. Both Friend and Dorus bought land in Barrington, Yates Co., but by 1828 sold out and they both appear in Orleans Co. soon after. Dorus and w. Sarah removed to Niagara District of Upper Canada from Ridgeway Orleans Co. Friend and w. Elizabeth were of Gaines, Orleans Co. where an Eldad Curtiss with wife Satie sold land in 1834 to Eldad S. Butler of Sheldon, Franklin Co. Vt., and in 1840 Eldad and w. Satie and Jeremiah Brown and w. Abigail sold land to Julius C. Foot. Dorus bought his Ridgeway land from Selah B. Beardsley. Friend Curtiss is buried in Mottville, Mich. Cemetery near Niles, Mich. Friend Curtiss d. Oct 11, 1850 ae. 58-3-0, w. Elizabeth d. Nov. 8, 1843 ae. 49-8-0. Their son Ira d. Nov. 8, 1843 ae. 19-0-22. As he and mother died same day, perhaps a copying error. Friend m. 2nd M______ for "Sarah, dau. of Friend and M. Curtiss d. Aug. 10, 1865 ae 19-4-10. The burial place of Dorus Curtiss is not known, but early records of Wayne Co., Michigan show a Dorus Curtiss." (p 52)

Additional information about Friend Curtis and his family was obtained from the 1850 Federal Census record for St. Joseph county, Michigan and deed records in Elkart county, Indiana which is southwest of the southern border of St. Joseph county, Michigan. The records obtained include the following:

30 March 1836 - Friend and Elizabeth Curtis sold two 40 acre pieces of land to James B. Walker for $200. Both parties were of Elkhart. (Vol 2 p 375 of the land and property records of Elkhart county, Indiana on microfilm 1728062 at the Family History Library. General deed index film is 1711316)

8 February 1841 - Elizabeth Curtis bought 80 acres of land for $300 from John S. and Clarissa Jones, both parties of Elkhart. (Vol 8 p 3 of Elkhart county, Indiana deeds, microfilm 1728065)

10 December 1845 - Friend Curtis of Elkart, sold 120 acres for $600 to Melissa Keyes of St. Joseph, Michigan. (vol 11, p 422 of Elkhart county, Indiana deeds, microfilm 1728066)

8 February 1849 - Friend and Melissa Curtis of Elkhart sold two 160 acre pieces of land to William N. Elliott of St. Joseph, Michigan for $2,100. (vol 12, p 379 of Elkhart county, Indiana deeds, microfilm 1728066)

1850 US Federal Census: FHL film 443578, Mottville, St. Joseph Co., Michigan. This census record is also available on USGenWeb for St. Joseph County Michigan at (cited 4 Nov 2007). Also see for a scanned image of the census page. The Curtis family was enumerated as follows:

Fred Curtis, head of household, male, age 57, born Vermont
Melisa Curtis, wife, female, age 46, born Connecticut
Reges, Albert, male, age 14, born Ohio
Henry M., male, age 12, born Michigan
Sarah Curtis, female, age 4, born Ia.

Burial information was obtained from the "Cemetery File" at Three Rivers Library in Three Rivers, Michigan by correspondence. The information for this Curtis family stated: "Friend Curtis - age 58, buried 1858 in the Mottville Cemetery, Mottville Township, St. Joseph County.

The Last Will and Testament for Friend Curtis was obtained from St. Joseph County Courthouse Records by correspondence. The date as stated in the Will is not ledgable. The photocopy of the will was made from a microfilm of the original and is very difficult to read. When the microfilm copy was made of the old Wills and Probate records at St. Joseph County Probate Courthouse, the original files and paper were destroyed. The microfilm copy is the only available copy. The details that can be read from the paper copy of the microfilm are:

"...of Mottville Township in the County of ... make and publish this my Last will ... making voide all former will by ... that my body be divinlly interred in the ... Mottville insaid County of St. Joseph with ... ... ... into the ... of my wife ... hereby direct ... bequeath to my ... wife all my ... being al the real estate belonging to me at this time to ... to her ... and benefit while she shall remain my Widow and at ... I direct ... bequeath to my daughter A... all ... real estate to be and remain to her use and benefit and I also direct that ... keys by Step son shall have out of my estate to the amount of one hundred dollars provided that he shall remain with my wife Melissa Curtis until he arrives at the age of twenty one years and in so ... shall assist his mother in supporting the family and I further direct that my daughter Elizabeth ... and my sons Seth Curtis, William B. Curtis and Francis Curtis each two dollars to be paid to them as soon as the ... can be made from the ... of the farm so as not to ... the family I also direct that my ... shall removed or cause to be removed the ... of my ... .... family now laying ... the ... Yark in York Township in the County of Elkurst State of Indiana and ... ... and State of Michigan by the ... of my ..."
Related Posts with Thumbnails