Saturday, October 07, 2006

Utah Research

The microfilm copy of the LDS Church Membership records for the wards in Logan and Ogden were searched. I was hoping to find the names of Benjamin's parents in the membership records. Every time his name was listed in the membership records as the spouse of Sarah Curtis, nothing was ever including about his parents' names. I have also tried to document where the family settled after their migration from Michigan. Land and other records still need to be searched. Nothing is conclusive right now.

Newspaper Obituaries
Goal: Looking for an obituary for Benjamin Kingman Curtis. If he had an obituary, maybe it listed the names of his parents or siblings.

Idaho Research

I personally visited the Franklin County record offices, searching for land and other records which would document the date of Benjamin's arrival in Preston, Idaho. The record office has a paper card catalog index to the numerous record books in the county office. I searched for the Curtis, Reynolds, and Card surnames and found numerous entries for each name. Photo copies were obtained for several records. Follow-up is needed in order to exhaust the records that are available.

A personal visit with the Preston City Cemetery sexton was made on two different occasions. At the time of my visit, the records were not organized. The sexton made copies of the few records that were found. Walking the rows in the cemetery ended up being the best way to find the family grave sites. A pictoral history was made of the cemetery, documenting the Curtis family burial locations, including all the extended family members.

Cemetery and other records were searched on microfilm at the Family History Library. One example:
  • Historical Scrapbook of Preston and vicinity; FHL film 237808 item 1. Notes: Benjamin was mentioned as the father of DeWilton (Cap C.D.) Curtis. Benjamin was also mentioned as a tax payer in school district #36, signing a petition against changing boundary lines of the school district. He protested the change because it would result in bringing about a division of the district, and would make it necessary for some children to cross the Bear River and attend school in the community of Battle Creek. The scrapbook included a picture of the school.

Military Service in the US Civil War

I visited the National Archives in Washington D.C. and conducted original research on Benjamin's Civil War service. Every record about his service and pension that was available at the National Archives was searched. Several records were restricted from being photocopied due to record deterioration. When photocopies were not permitted, every detail was hand-copied. Two different places of birth were recorded on two different documents among his files. No document in either the military service file or the military pension file recorded the names of his parents or sibling.

St. Joseph County, Michigan Will & Probate Records

Back in the late 1970's I wanted to search the will and probate records in St. Joseph county, Michigan. I was looking for clues to the names of Benjamin's parents and siblings and knew that the will and probate records would be a good record to search. Unfortunately, the court records have never been available at the Family History Library.

My second cousin, Susan Hendricks, had ordered a copy of a will for Friend Curtis in 1983 and she sent me a copy of the will to review. The copy was from a microfilm, extremely small and hard to read. Plus there was a large black spot on the top-left corner of the document. Our efforts to read the will resulted in figuring out the names of the children who were mentioned in the will, and Benjamin was not among those mentioned. There wasn't any other clues in the will concerning Friend's relationship to Benjamin Kingman Curtis.

In 2008, I called the county clerk to enquire about the old will and probate records. I was told that a number of years ago the county court records were microfilmed and then the originals were destroyed. The Genealogical Society of Utah did not do the microfilming, therefore the films are not available at the Family History Library. This was tragic news.

Someone needs to spend time reading all the will and probate records in St. Joseph county for a ten year period, between 1845 and 1855.  This means all the will and probate records, not just the records for those with the Curtis surname. I have two options: One is to hire a local researcher to search the court records for all wills and probates; second is to plan a research trip and do the work myself.

Look for the following individuals in the will and probate records:
  • Friend Curtis, 1858 - done through correspondence
  • Hiram H. Curtis, 1864
  • Patience Curtis, 1851
  • Shepard B. Curtis, 
  • Simeon Curtis, 1856
  • William Fuller Card, 1846 - done through correspondence 
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