The power of a storm determined the fate of Deodatus Curtis and his descendents. Had it been stronger than it actually was, the ship on which he traveled would have probably gone to the bottom and the line would have ended there. A weaker one would have not carried away three of the ships masts and prevented it from reaching its intended destination of Barbados where some other line of descendents would have come about. As it was, the ship was forced to Martha's Vineyard, Deodatus purchased land in Braintree, Connecticut, married, and had two children. So began the Deodatus Curtis line in America.
This is how this Curtis came to be in America according to family tradition. There are other theories on just where Deodatus was going, but it is certain that he purchased land in Braintree in 1640.
The particular line of the family documented here lived primarily in Ohio from 1791 onwards. Eleazer Curtis, his family, and his brother made the trip from Warren, Connecticut as was described by Walter Curtis.
I am indebted to a book written by Laura Guthrie (Curtis) Preston for the information for generations one through seven. I have a lot more information on the Descendant's of Deodatus Curtis than is presented here. If you think you are related to Deodatus Curtis drop me a line.
Eleazer William Curtis, his siblings, wife, and children are also identified in a series of letters that were passed down through the family by his Eleazer's daughter Lethe, who was my great grandmother. The letters sent in the 1840's and 50's were addressed to Hockingport, Athens County, Ohio. A second group sent in the 1880's were addressed to New England, Wood County, West Virginia.
Deodatus Curtis left England in 1639 or 1640. He ended up in Braintree, Massachusetts as is documented in Pope's Pioneers of Massachusetts: "Deodatus Curtis, planter, Braintree, bought land in 1640". He may have been on his way to Barbados when, as a result of a violent storm, his ship was forced to detour to Martha's vineyard. A destination of Barbados is suspected because Deodatus owned land there.
m 11 Apr 1673 Braintree Prudence Gatlive d 10 Nov 1727 Bristol, Massachusetts
As a testament to the early arrival of Deodatus Curtis at Braintree, his son's birth is the first entry under births in the Braintree Vital Records. When Solomon was eighteen, his family moved to Swansea, Mount Hope Neck, Massachusetts (now Bristol, Rhode Island). On 1 September 1681, he attended the first town meeting.
Swansea was where the first attack was made by chief Metacom (called King Phillip by the English) in King Phillips War six years before. Solomon Curtis's arrival was probably part of a resettlement of the area, the first settlers having been wiped out.
In keeping with the pioneer spirit of his father and grandfather, Solomon moved his family to Lebanon (now Columbia), Connecticut in about 1719
m abt. 1729 Elizabeth Pineo
CURTIS, Deodatus b 5 Mar 1706/07 Bristol, Rhode Island d Warren, Connecticut
m 1 Dec 1734 Elizabeth Selden b 9 Feb 1713
All Deodatus' children and a wife Hannah are named in his will.
For further information on the descendents of this Deodatus Curtis, email Anne Townsend.
m 23 Sep 1735 Warren, Connecticut Mary Dunham b abt. 1715 d 10 Apr 1788 Warren, Connecticut
By now a family tradition, Eleazer moved his family to Kent (now Warren), Connecticut between 1740 and 1750. The first settlement was made at Kent in 1737.
m 7 Feb 1759 Warren, Connecticut Mary Carter b 14 Apr 1739 Hebron, Connecticut d 2 Oct 1805 Warren Connecticut
The farm owned by Eleazer Curtis in Warren is still known as 'Above all' because of its location on the level top of a hill (at least it was in 1945).
Eleazer started out his military career as an ensign of Second company or train band in 1770. In 1771 he was made lieutenant. On 1 May 1775 he was authorized by Governor Jonathan Trumbull to raise a company of one hundred men for the defense of the Colony. This probably became the 7th Company for which Eleazer was commissioned captain. After Fort Ticonderoga was taken by Benedict Arnold, Ethan Allen, and their men, Governor Turnbull ordered Colonel Benjamin Hinan's Fourth Regiment to secure the fort and Crown Point against recapture. In 1778, the now Major Curtis was given command of Colonel Enos' Regiment.
After the war, Eleazer was sent to the Connecticut Convention at Hartford as representative for Warren. The Convention convened 1 Jan 1788 and Eleazer voted 'aye' for the ratification of the United States Constitution.
m 29 Dec 1763 John Carter b 18 Jun 1736
m 7 Nov 1782 Fairfield County, Connecticut Eunice Starr b 15 Aug 1766 Ridgefield Connecticut d 6 May 1814 Newbury Settlement, Little Hocking, Ohio
At the age of 16, Eleazer enlisted in the Continental Army just 15 days after Lexington and Concord. As a private in Captain Noadiah Hooker's Company he took part at Roxbury and in the siege of Boston until the end of his term of service. Four months after Washington's victories at Trenton and Princeton, Eleazer enlisted again on 21 April 1777 as a private in Captain Albert Chapman's Company for a term of 8 months. This company was part of the Seventh Regiment, Connecticut Line, commanded by Colonel Heman Swift, which fought at Germantown 4 October 1777. Eleazer then spent what must have been an unforgettable winter with Washington at Valley Forge.
He was present at the battle Monmouth on 28 June 1778. If he was with Joseph Martin who was also of the Connecticut Line, then he was responsible for holding back a British attack while the Americans made an orderly retreat. This gave the American artillery time to place some well-aimed fire on the British who "reluctantly crawled back from the height which they had occupied and hid themselves from our sight" as Joseph Martin put it. In Page Smith's A New Age Now Begins Smith characterizes the action: "This small episode may well have marked a turning point in the battle. As we have noted of other engagements, the key to most battles usually lies in some incident, typically involving a handful of soldiers who, quite outside the view of their commanding general, attack or defend in what subsequently turns out to have been the crucial action of the whole engagement." (P. 1096).
Four years after Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown, Eleazer married Eunice Starr. They lived in Warren for nine years and had five children before deciding to make for Ohio.
The Adventure of the Northwest
Before and after the Revolutionary War, a number of land companies were formed to sell land in the west to settlers. One of these was Vandalia Company which attempted to create the state of Transylvania in the Tennessee-Kentucky area. Another was the Ohio Land Company which was formed in Boston, Massachusetts on 4 March 1786. The first directors were General Rufus Putnam, Colonel John Brooks, Major Winthrop Sargent, Captain Thomas Cushing, and Reverend Manasseh Cutler. On 27 October of the following year, the company received a grant of 1,781,760 acres for the sum of $1,000,000 from the Congress of the Confederation.
A few months later two groups of men, one from Connecticut and the other from Massachusetts, started for Ohio. They most likely traveled down the Ohio River from its headwaters as it was to become a common route. On 7 April 1788, they arrived at the mouth of the Muskingum aboard a flatboat and three log canoes. At that place they founded the first city in Ohio: Marietta. In the next few years, they were followed by many other settlers. By the end of 1790, the settlement had grown to eighty houses and a stockade called Campus Martius. In addition, other smaller settlements sprang up in the area. Their peaceful existence up to this time was about to be upset.
During the spring and summer of that year reports of Indian attacks spread through the settlements. They were at first assumed to be of the type that came to be expected when new country was settled: kidnapped women and children, burned-out cabins, and the interception of settlers coming down the Ohio River. In order to discover the seriousness of the situation, the newly appointed governor of the territory, Arthur St. Clair. - Major Eleazer Curtis may have served under him at Fort Ticonderoga - gave orders for Major John Hamtramck to ascertain the Indian's intentions. Through a French trader whom the Major used for this purpose, it was learned that at least three of the tribes in the area appeared to be preparing for war. Governor St. Clair immediately began assembling a force to launch a preemptive strike against the Indian strongholds along the Wabash River. During the rest of the year, troops and supplies were assembled and, under the command of Colonel James Trotter and later Colonel John Hardin, they made a number of attacks upon the Indians, none of which were successful to any degree. Rather, they had the opposite effect of infuriating the tribes that were attacked and bringing other tribes into the fight who had been on the sidelines. On 2 January 1791, the Indians attacked the exposed settlement of Big Bottom, forty miles upriver from Marietta. All the settlers - men, women, and children - were killed and houses and barns were burnt to the ground. The news of the Big Bottom Massacre flew from settlement to settlement, up and down the river. Those that were too small to be able to defend themselves packed up what they could and, along with their livestock, headed for Marietta where the stockade was manned by twenty regulars.
After the massacre, General Rufus Putman of Marietta wrote to President Washington requesting immediate support in defense from further Indian attacks. Washington appointed St. Clair commander of a force tasked with pacifying the Indians through defeat in battle. Preparations for the campaign took all of the summer and it was not until September that St. Clair set out. After having built several forts, he met the Indians on 4 November at a branch of the Wabash. His force was defeated and sent fleeing back to Fort Jefferson. The outlook could not have seemed much worse for the settlers. The Indians could have easily destroyed the rest of the settlers in the territory had they the organization and the will to do so. Fortunately for the settlers, this didn't happen. Not knowing this, they lived in a constant state of fear It was to this situation that Eleazer Curtis and his family arrived at Marietta a few weeks later.
On 8 September 1791, Eleazer Curtis, his wife, and five children along with Stephen Guthrie and his family and three unmarried men started from Warren Township, Litchfield County, Connecticut for Ohio. They would have almost certainly known before their departure of the massacre at Big Bottom and the attacks on immigrants traveling down the Ohio River, yet they made the trip none the less. Perhaps they thought that, with St. Clair in the field, the situation would be under control by the time of their arrival. They were able to make the trip with only the loss of one life due to an accident. And they saw no Indians. For four years after their arrival they had to live in garrisons. After the first two years Eleazer Curtis, Stephen Guthrie, their families and Truman Guthrie reoccupied the Newberry Garrison where they could work their farms which were in the Newberry Bottom.
On 20 August 1794, General Wayne and his force defeated the Indians of the area in the Battle of Fallen Timbers. On 10 August of the next year the Treaty of Green Ville was signed with the Indians. The following spring, Eleazer moved down to his property and built a cabin into which the family moved. He was able to enjoy this now peaceful existence for five years before he died 7 September 1801 of a bilious fever. Eleazer and Eunice are buried in the Newberry Cemetery.
m Lovina Fox
Lysander accompanied his brother Eleazer to Ohio but returned to Connecticut after having "taught school in a cooper's shop at Picketed Point". He also servered in the American Revolution as he was a pensioner in 1840. There was a "Licun Der Curtis," in Captain David Olmstead's Company which served in the Revolution from Litchfield County, Connecticut.
m 24 Jun 1812 Washington County, Ohio Esther Knowles b 8 May 1785 Cape May County, New Jersey d 4 Oct 1857 Hockingport, Ohio
When Eleazer was eleven or twelve, he took his turn standing guard for Indians on a big stump while the men worked. On 21 Aug 1837 he purchased 80 acres at the Marietta Land Office. The land was located on the Big Hocking River, near Hockingport.
The convenience of the Ohio River allowed the pioneers to travel far down stream in search of a market for their goods. In 1810 Eleazer took a boat load of produce to New Orleans, some 1000 miles distant, in search of a good price for their goods. They arrived on 20 April to find prices depressed. After sending some money home to be paid to different persons he had but twenty dollars left: "to get from this Soddom". He had an opportunity to ship on a vessel to Pensacola, Florida. On his return, he would start for home where: "I shall stay very content".
Eleazar and Esther are buried in the Hockingport Cemetery, Athens County, Ohio
CURTIS, Jason Ralph b 16 Dec 1785 Warren, Connecticut
Walter dictated his memories of the trip from Warren, Connecticut to Ohio to his nephew Charles Devol Curtis
CURTIS, Mary b 28 Jun 1789 Warren, Connecticut
CURTIS, Benajah b 20 Mar 1791 Warren, Connecticut
CURTIS, Horace b 7 Aug 1793 Washington County, Ohio
CURITS, Clarissa b 3 Mar 1796 Washington County, Ohio
CURTIS, Lucy b 26 Dec 1800 Washington County, Ohio
m 15 Mar 1848 Athens County, Ohio Hanah Steelman Ruth b 7 Feb 1826 Cape May County, New Jersey d 4 Dec 1886 New England, Wood County, West Virginia
A number of letters to Eleazer William Curtis from his wife and children have been passed down in the family. Eleazar and Hanah are buried in the Hockingport Cemetery.
Sidney went to California for the gold rush for we find him writing letters to his sister in 1853 and 1854 from Sacramento, California where gold was first discovered. At some later date, he moved to San Francisco where he ran a business.
James is buried in the Hockingport Cemetery.
m 24 Dec 1879 Walnut Hills, Cincinnati, Ohio Dora Fisher Crossette b 6 Dec 1838 d 24 Mar 1903 Cambridge, Massachusetts
m 25 Mar 1855 Wood County, West Virginia Caroline Rebecca Pennybaker b 7 Jun 1836 Belleville, Virginia (now West Virginia) d 18 Aug 1935 Glenville West Virginia
Leander owned several river front lots in Hockingport. He also had about 250 acres just outside of town. Leander and Caroline are buried in the Hockingport Cemetery.
In 1867 Ruhama went to San Francisco, California via the Isthmus of Panama and lived with her brother Sidney. She was still there at the time of the great earthquake of 1906. Her house was one of the first to burn. She then went to live with her cousin, Stephen Knowles in Cloverdale, where she died a year later.
m Leander Sheets b 28 Mar 1838 New Matamoras, Ohio d 8 Sep 1908 Copan, Oklahoma
James is buried in the Hockingport Cemetery. He died of White Swelling (tuberculous arthritis).
m 4 Nov 1879 Alice Lucy Stone b 22 Aug 1855 Hockingport, Ohio d 25 Feb 1937 Akron, Ohio, daughter of Enoch and Elinda (Frost) Stone
John Sidney was a physician
m 5 Sep 1883 Bellville, West Virginia Carrie Lucile Keever b 12 Sep 1860 Bellville, West Virginia d 2 Aug 1922 Revloc, Pennsylvania
Jason was an Ohio River steamboat pilot; at first on passenger steamboats and last on towboats; he was recognized as one of the most competent navigators on the rivers between Pittsburgh and New Orleans. He was Captain General of Harbor No. 25, Pittsburgh, Pa., an association of river pilots, until shortly before his death.
George was some sort of traveling salesman. Contrary to what Laura Preston states in 'The Curtis Family' George wrote home and visited.