Monday, May 16, 2011

1891 Mary Curtis

Women were usually not much in the highlight in the 19th century. Therefore, when I came across this biography in a biographical and portrait book, published in 1891, and can be found in the Fowlerville Historical Collection, I was quite pleased. In addition to being able to read about one of the many strong women in the area, it is also ripe with great information for anyone doing genealogical work. Enjoy . . .

Mrs. Mary A. Curtis~~Until within a few years, there has been a cruel practice in vogue in Hindostan in which the widow of a deceased husband immolated herself upon the funeral pyre of her deceased spouse in order to prove beyond a doubt her fidelity and loyalty. In more enlightened countries that same devotion is better proved by living, and taking up the dropped threads that have fallen from the nerveless fingers of the departed, the loving survivor completes the fabric, making it harmonious and lovely. Thus has done the lady whose name is above and whose biography it is our pleasant privilege to here chronicle.

Our subject is the widow of Benjamin Curtis, who was born in Madison County, N.Y., August 21, 1816. His parents were Victory and Mary (Tucker) Curtis, natives of New York, whence they came West in 1836 and settled in the town of Howell, where they spent the remainder of their lives in farming, passing away at a good old age in this State. Mr. Curtis received his education in his native State and came West with his family. He was reared a farmer and became the owner of two hundred and eighty acres in this county. During his life he was honored by the appointment or election to various offices in the township of Handy. He lived here fifty years and during that time his interests became entirely bound up in the place; he died in 1874. For many years he had been an ardent Democrat, adhering strictly to the original principles of the party in their purity.

Mr. Curtis and our subject were married June 14, 1838. She, who name is at the head of this sketch, was prior to her union with Mr. Curtis, Miss Mary A. Bush. She was born in Danby Township, Tompkins County, N.Y., February 26, 1816. She is the daughter of John and Hannah (Dykeman) Bush, natives of Pennsylvania and Connecticut, respectively. They were married in New York where he was engaged in farming and in 1837 came to Handy Township, where he first took up two hundred and seven acres of land from the Government. He at once built a comfortable log house, which, however, during the first summer was without doors or chimney. He cleared the farm and at the time of his decease owned over seven hundred acres of fine land. On first coming to the State, the country was very wild and the shy denizens of the forest had not yet learned to be fearful of man. Mr. Bush frequently went out before breakfast and killed a deer. Politically he was a Democrat. His death occurred June 19, 1862, his natal day having been November 4, 1793. Mrs. Curtis' mother died November 17, 1879; she was born October 5, 1794. Of four children she of whom we write is the oldest and the only surviving one. The second one was Electa, who married Mr. A. Barnard. David and Marian, who became Mrs. Sylvester Tanner.

Mrs. Curtis was educated in New York at a district school and after completing her course she taught for five terms in her native State. She came West with her parents, they taking the lake route to Detroit, and thence coming hither by private conveyances. They stopped on the way Brighton, Livingston County, Mich., at a store and while there, Mrs. Curtis engaged to teach school, taking charge of the school two weeks, and having been the first teacher in that village. She taught for three months and received $1.50 per week and her board. Her first school was in Conway Township and was kept in a shanty with a bark roof and floor.

The original of our sketch is a lady of questionable culture and refinement. After her marriage and giving up her teaching, she engaged in farming with her husband, being his co-partner and worker until his death. Six children came as a pledge of their wedded affection, four of whom are now living and all being men and women grown who have homes of their own. The eldest daughter, Justina, is Mrs. Enos Sowles of Howell Township; she is the mother of two children -- Mary and Rosa. Armintha is Mrs. C. Hopkins and has three children -- Eva, Lottie and Amelia. Rual married Miss Harriet Winer. By a former wife, Hannah Hyne, he is the father of three children -- Nellie, Myrtie and Lloyd. Frank H. Married Julia Tompkins and is the father of three children -- Fred, Clyde and Nellie. Permelia, who became Mrs. Adams, died in 1863, leaving one child, a daughter, Carrie. Mrs. Curtis rents her homestead and resides in a beautiful home in Fowlerville. She is known far and near and her friends are many.
In 1900, the following obituary and claims announcement was found in The Fowlerville Review:
Mrs. Mary Ann Bush Curtis died at her home in this village on Monday morning after a lingering illness of several months, by a gradual breaking down of the physical system, aged 84 years. She was born at Danby, Tompkins county, New York, February 26, 1816, where she resided with her parents until 1837, when they removed to Michigan and settled in this township. She taught the first school in the township of Brighton, in this county and also taught school in Conway, the school house consisting of a shanty with a bark roof. Thus it will be seen she was one of the early pioneers who had much to do with moulding the early settlement in this county and that she performed her work well and faithfully scores who came directly under her influence can testify as to her helpfulness, both at that time and in the later years of her life where she assumed the duties of wife and motherhood, having been married to Benjamin Curtis, June 14, 1838, and that she was widely known and universally loved and respected in a large circle of friends. She dearly loved her home and family, and yet she was quietly helpful to every one with whom she came in contact and she still lives, loved and cherished, in the memory of all who knew her. She was the mother of six children, three boys and three girls, one sone and one daughter having crossed to the other side of the river before her, together with her husband, who died in October, 1874; the others, Ruel and Frank, Mrs. C.E. Hopkins of Belding, and Mrs. Enos Soule of Howell, still survive her. She was tenderly cared for by her children and especially by her granddaughter, Mrs. Carrie Parsons, her every want being fully administered to, often even before it was expressed. She was of a pleasant, sweet disposition, quietly waiting her time of departure with a saving trust in Jesus Christ as her Savior and which she quietly confied to her relatives and friends.
The funeral services were held at the house on Wednesday afternoon, G.L. Adams officiating, and the remains were interred in the Coughran cemetery.

No comments: