Curtis Family History 1857

This is a letter in some of the genealogy work from Morton Curtis.  This letter is from my GG-Grandfather to his brother-in-law; regarding the death of my GG-Grandmother.  Thank you Ann W. for all the information you have shared!  This is one letter out of a stack of documents almost 2″ thick!

For the most part I have tried to recapture his letter as it was written, spelling has been corrected and some punctuation has been added.  Where you see _____ in the letter – these were in his original letter.  Perhaps an unsavory word he did not want to type?  The letter was typed and single spaced.

My GG Grandfather was Elijah W. Curtis, he was married to Mary Chamberlain Curtis.  My G-Grandfather was John W. Curtis, his children were Morton Curtis, Cora, William and my grandfather Fred.

Elijah was born February 11, 1804 and died May 8, 1857.  His wife Mary was born May 4, 1798 and died Jan 1, 1857.  This letter is dated Jan. 22, 1857, Adrian, Michigan

Dear Brother & Sister,

How can I write to you of the death of my dear Mary but she has gone and I feel that I have met with a loss which I can never have made up to me in this world and you Dear Brother & Sister have lost a kind and affectionate Sister.  I sometimes blame myself for separating her from you after spending all of our youthful days within miles of each other but I meant for the best and perhaps it is but it is hard for me to see it in that light.  God orders all things right and we must submit, she has gone and I do not think that I aught to wish her back in this troublesome world and as you said in your letter you and I but a short way behind.  Mary was taken sick the last week in November on Tuesday.  Edward on Thursday, Anna on Saturday of the same week.  They all seemed to be in a kind of unconscious and bewildered state with a burning fever and I do not think that any of them realized much pain and they remained in this state about four weeks and during this time I should that they had all 4 qts of bloodpus from each of there bowels .  Edward came so near bleeding to death that we could not raise him in bed for 10 days without his fainting and he is very feeble yet.  Anna has got quite smart she is getting well the fastest of any of them.  Mary lingered along until the week before New Years and thought her fever had turned and I think it had but at fatal delusion  — destroyer was at work within it seated upon her lungs and she had not strength to throw it off.  I had let my nurse go home two days before death she was an old friend of ours formerly from Galway.  John was with me through all their sickness and we never was both from them at once until her death.  I was up with her the night before her death; her reason returned and she complained of her throat and when it was light we found that it had swollen very much, she was very feeble through the day but had her reason.  She said she thought she could not live but still I thought that with good nursing that I should raise her but that night when John and myself lifted her up to made her bed she was taken coughing and began to complain of want of air.  She then said “I am dying” and began and called us all by name and bid us farewell and then began and allied the whole of your family and bid you all farewell.  I felt of her pulse the beat as strong as they had at any time during her sickness, John went for the doctor but she was gone before he had time to get him, to a far better world than this.  I cannot describe to you my feelings but may God preserve you from ever passing through such a time.  There is not a day passes but what is something that reminds me of her.  I knew not until she was taken from me how dear she was to me.  I miss her everywhere.  Oh hooch Imiss her and her loss alone has made fully sensible of her many many virtues, kind she was to us all ever ready ever willing not only to her duties in life but to do even more if possible.  Her faults were few and by us are all forgotten, but her may virtues will live in our memories as long as memory itself shall live.  Peach to her ashes, she was all that constituted a kind and loving wife.

I should have been glad to have had some of the _____ of your family to smooth down her pillow for her in her dark moments but that could not be.

I though when I began the other sheet (1st page of this letter) that I should be fill it but if I should write all that I would like to say to you I should fill 3 or 4 like these.  I think likely that it is all for the best that this sickness has happened in this place for if it had not happened I should have in Iowa before this time, all that stopped me was Morton (Elijah’s son) being very sick last fall and we wanted to see him well before we left the state.  When the rest of the family was taken sick Morton was not able to leave his room but I and to move him to Jame’s to make room for the rest — after his Mother was taken sick — removed from under their care.  I think that he was imprudent in his diet for he got a relapse and run down into a chronic – which has brought him very low so much so that he is confide to his room, he is very feeble.  You would not know him if you was to see him.  I have him home since his mothers death, Edward is quite feeble, he is confined to his room and the probability is he will not get about until the weather gets warm.  I do not think that I ought to charge my sickness to this locality for there is no sickness in the place to speak of, there is  or 10 doctors in this place and they all say that it is a general time of health not only in this city but all about the country.

I could not have had a place so well calculated to bring every thing to bear that would be for the comfort of my family through such a tiring time.  I had all the skill of the best doctors in the country right at my hand.  I had John with me all through and I live in the best and kindest neighborhood that I ever lived in.  My own sisters could not have been kinder that the ladies was to Mary all through her sickness.  There was not a night but what I had plenty of watchers from the time there were taken ill until I could get along without their assistance and more the superintendent of the railroad gave all of my family or any one connected with it a free pass from this place to Toledo and from that to Chicago, in fact there was nothing that I wanted for their comfort but what I could get at the shortest notice for James went through from Toledo to Chicago twice a week and if he did not call I had only to tell my wants to any of the conductors on the road and they would get it for me.

I presume you would like to know what I thought of doing but I must confess that I cannot you as yet, the great misfortune in the loss of my companion has flustrated all my former plans.  If there is no misfortune befalls my family between this and spring and I pray to God there may not, I shall probably make some arrangements for the future. Dear brother in my present state of feeling it matters not where my lot is cat.  I know not Brother George how you feel but I feel as if the time for accumulating the things of this world have gone by with me and I being to feel the ——- of old age slowly creeping in.

My health is good, I never was as heavy as I am at this time.  George is well and is a large heavy man, I should think would way 195 or 200 lbs.

Remember me Aunt Sally, how I wish I could see her.  My love to all the rest of the members of your family and a good share to you and Maria.

E.W. Curtis

E.W. Curtis was almost 53 at the time he wrote this letter, he died a few short months later

Elijah W. Curtis 1804 - 1857
Elijah W. Curtis 1804 – 1857
Mary Chamberlain Curtis 1798 - 1857
Mary Chamberlain Curtis 1798 – 1857

What must it have been like to only communicate via letters?  No telephone?  No e-mail?  I often think they were much better at keeping in touch that we are with all of our modern conveniences!


2 thoughts on “Curtis Family History 1857

  1. I agree with you about how we do not really keep in touch in these modern times. I can not help but wonder if Elijah died of a broken heart. What a great family letter you have. Treasure it.

    1. Thank you for your comment! Yes it is a great letter! Ann W. is a distant relative that has a lot of Curtis family history and has been sharing with me. We met via Facebook when I was in a heavy research mode but we have never spoken – until today! Upon reading my post she picked up her phone and called me – we have a great chat and best of all I think we have inspired each other to dig into the family history some more!

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