Sunday, November 04, 2007

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.


Anonymous said...

Benjamin Kingman Curtis had a half sister (Her husband had a flour Mill), who had a daughter (BK Curtis neice) named Imogene.

Please see 1850, 1860 and 1870 Census for Hillsdale Michigan as follows

John S. Barber Age 61 in 1870 census born New York , Occupations "MILLER"
JANE Barber , AGe varies in each census but probably born around 1815 born New York
Robert Barber 14 In 1850, Born NY
Edward Barber 9, NY
IMOGENE BARBER 7 in 1850 (so b.1843)
Hamilton Barber 3, NY

In the 1880 census the family is now located in Ionia County Michigan and Jane Barber lists as being born in New York, with Mother and Father born in "CONN" (Connecticutt)

If Jane (married Name) Barber is the half sister of Benjamin Kingman Curtis, Then she must have the same mother as BK Curtis. LDS church records from temple work done in the 1930's show a Robert Barber born abut 1832 of Sanilak, Rensselear County New York , the son of John S. Barber and Jane KNICKERBOCKER. This is a secondary source, but if Jane Knickerbocker is a married name and she later married a Mr XX Curtis, this would fit.

Anonymous said...

IGI record states:
Robert Barber; Birth: About 1832 Sand Lake, Rensselaer, New York; Father: John S. Barber; Mother: Jane Knickerbocker; Source Information: Film Number: 184310; Page Number: 315; Reference number: 7179. After this film is searched, the details will be added to this comment.

Fran said...

Robert Barber; Birth: About 1832 Sand Lake, Rensselaer, New York; Father: John S. Barber; Mother: Jane Knickerbocker; Source Information: Film Number: 184310; Page Number: 315; Reference number: 7179. After the film is searched, details will be added to this comment.

Anonymous said...

In the Land Deeds of St Joseph County Michigan are found the following;
Film 1939787 VOL 14 Page 405
Waldo Curtis & Wife to Freeman S. Curtis {son} , 17 Jan 1847, Waldo Curtis and Abagail {Watkins} his wife of Naples , Ontario County New York ... Wit: Dwight Z. Curtis, 4 Jan 1847 and 5 April 1847 Michigan

The very next entry in the land deed book;
VOL 15 Pager 406
Alanson P. Cornell to William F Card, 2 April 1839. Cornell of Bristol, Ontario County, New York and William F. Card of Livonia, Livingston County, New York, land in St Joseph County Michigan, 80 Acres WIT: J A Jaques? Erastus Hutchinson or Hamlin ? , 27 June 1842, 5 October 1846.

Note: This is the same land later conveyed to his daughter Lavantia Card , later the wife of Benjamin Kingman Curtis.

Also in Land Deeds of Ontario County New York: 1835
John Curtis and Barbara to Rufus Sabin. This record is before marriage of Benjamin Kingman Curtis and Lavantia Card , but there is a Rufus Sabin or Sabins who is an Uncle ( I think of Lavantia Card)

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