Thursday, January 25, 2007
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
James Howison & Letitia Sellers Curtis
"Simms" & "Tish"
Married September 29, 1884 in Warren County, Ohio
(Collection of Elizabeth Curtis Robinson)
James H. Curtis (above) was one of the fifteen children of James Curtis and his third wife Lucy Pinn Curtis. James Curtis was born in Prince William County, Virginia, near Sudley Springs, about 35 miles west from Washington D. C. Five of the children of James and Lucy Pinn Curtis would settle in southwest Ohio:
- Josephine Curtis Taylor of Dayton, Ohio
- Charles Curtis of Wilmington, Ohio m. Eunice Sellers, daughter of Jacob and Laura Williams Sellers.
- James H. Curtis of Waynesville, Ohio (Crosswick ~ a small town one mile north of Waynesville) m. Letitia Sellers, daughter of Jacob and Laura Williams Sellers.
- Hampton Curtis of Xenia, Ohio
- Warner Curtis of Harveysburg, Ohio
Other daughters of James and Lucy Pinn Curtis were:
The Curtis Boys:
Back Row from Left to Right: Charles (Wilmington, Ohio) and John (Washington D. C.)
Front Row from Left to Right: James II (Waynesville, Ohio), Hampton (Xenia, Ohio), and Warner (Harveysburg, Ohio)
- Martha Curtis Jackson (Syracuse, New York)
- Fannie Curtis Beckwith (Clifton Station, Virginia)
- Rosa Curtis Harris (Bull run, Virginia)
- Edmonia Curtis Harris (Herdon, Virginia)
The father of these children listed above, James Curtis, was one of the mulatto children of a slave owner named Charles Curtis. He and his brothers and sisters were manumitted by their father on October 6, 1828. These manumitted children then were forced by Virginia law to leave Virginia a one year and a day. Some moved away permanently, while some returned to Virginia to live. One of these was James Curtis.
James Curtis' first wife was a slave named Nancy. They had several children but the mother and children were sold south to Mississippi.
James Curtis' second wife was another slave named Margaret. She and her children were also sold south.
James Curtis' third wife was Lucy Pinn, a free woman. They married in 1853. Lucy died in 1879.
James Curtis' fourth wife was Martha Parker of Clifton Station, Virginia. She died in 1901.
When the Civil War broke out James Curtis was living on the road from Manassas, leading to the Bull Run battlefield. This experience was mentioned in his obituary printed in a local newspaper, probably the Miami Gazette of Waynesville, Ohio:
"DEATHS ~ J. H. Curtis (James H. Curtis), of Route 1, received the sad news of the death of his aged father James Curtis, who was born at Bull Run, Va., in the year of 1820. He witnessed the great battle of Bull Run. He was living on the road leading from Manassas to the historic Bull Run Battlefield, when the Civil War broke out. He was sitting at the breakfast table when the first shot was fired. He with others went out upon Mount Pone Hill, and throughout the day they watched that bloody conflict where the best blood of a divided Union rushed into battle. He said the conflict was a hard and bloody one. For a while in the afternoon victory seemed on the side of the Union forces, but at the critical moment they looked westward and saw a great army rushing to the field. Then the Union became panic stricken and broke from the field. The next day he looked over the field which was a ghastly sight yet, strewn with the dead and dying. The Second Battle of Bull Run found him at the same place, watching almost a similar disaster. He lived on this farm for 34 consecutive years and in his later years he went to live with his daughter Rosa Harris of Bull Run, Va. where he departed this life, January 5, 1914, at the age of 94 years."
Both James and Lucy Pinn Curtis are buried in the Pinn Family Cemetery in Manassas, Virginia.
The children of James Howison & Letitia Sellers Curtis, "Sim" & "Tish", pictured above were:
- Hampton W. Curtis, November 1885 - January 7, 1887
- Martha Elizabeth Curtis, b. April 27, 1887. She graduated from Wilberforce College in 1809 or 1910.
- James Otis Curtis, b. December 7, 1888
- Nettie Leah Curtis, b. April 23, 1891
- John Lemley Curtis, b. March 5, 1893
- Martha Geneva Curtis, b. August 15, 1895
- Lester Paul Curtis, b. February 12, 1900
- Esther Pauline Curtis, b. November 23, 1904
James H. and Letitia Sellers Curtis are buried in the The Zion Baptist African-American Church cemetery in Harveysburg, Ohio. There little boy, Hampton W. Curtis is buried beside them.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
STRIFE OVER ABOLITION
The rumor was that several generations back in her genealogy that she was, on her maternal side, the daughter of a wealthy slaveowner and one of his slaves. The correspondent claims that Wilson Hobbs rather crassly through Margaret out of the school publicly.
Another letter in the Bugle dated March 4, 1848 defended Wilson Hobbs actions by explaining that he had not been so cruel and that Margaret had been privately told of the boards decision and why she could not enter. However, the offer of home tutoring, instruction, and accompanying books was given her. The correspondent says that fifty out of fifty-six stockholders objected to her entry due to the impurity of her blood. In a letter dated March 10, 1848 in the "Bugle", which had been written on February 15, 1848, it was stated that two members of the Methodist Church and one member of the United Brethren Church in Harveysburg were three of the stockholders who had protested. This reality illustrates that the abolition controversies criss-crossed through all churches and social groups. Consequently, it was not just the Quakers who were at odds with each other over how to respond to slavery and, specifically in this case, how to deal with education for blacks.
Valentine Nicholson, who was a local Harveysburger, an abolitionist and UGRR conductor, and member of the radical Congregational/Progressive Friends, wrote a very lengthy letter to the Bugle on June 2, 1848, explaining efforts made in support of Margaret Campbell:
"The principal teacher at the Waynesville Academy (a village four miles west of Harveysburg), who, by the way, is one of the first scholars our State affords (This was Dr. David Burson, who had moved to Waynesville to teach.), when he came to hear of the ridiculous and cruel treatment which this young lady had received at Harveysburg, expressed a desire to have her attend that institution, (and there being a Board of Trustees belonging to that school, a majority of them were spoken to and gave their full and free consent)."
Unfortunately, according to Nicholson, an Orthodox Friend, who lived just a few miles outside of Waynesville, came to the village and stirred up resistance to Margaret's enrollment in the Waynesville Academy. Valentine Nicholson then in his letter launches into a severe critique of Orthodox Quakerism and its hypocricy concerning abolition ~ a willingness to promote an anti-slavery agenda but their "faith" is not lived "by works". He points out that there are now only seven students starting the next term in the Academy due to the hypocricy and immoral behavior of the stockholders.
The Second Harveysburg Academy
Founded to be an Integrated Educational Institution
This horrible situation must have been extremely disappointing to Valentine Nicholson and another Friend Isaiah Fallis who were in the fore front of organizing and building the new Harveysburg Academy. They both intended this second Harveysburg Academy to be fully integrated. In one of his letters to the editors of the "Bugle", Nicholson admitted that he had misjudged Wilson Hobbs. Shortly before the controversy over Margaret Campbell began, the editors of the "Bugle" had gone on a tour of southwest Ohio and had visited Harveysburg and the school. One of the editors had told Nicholson that Wilson Hobbs would be a "fair weather friend to abolition" (Bugle, March 10, 1848).
According to Valentine Nicholson's obituary, this second Academy did for a short period of time fulfill its intended mission. However, the obituary does not give any details about the Margaret Campbell controversy:
"The need of a free town hall was at one time apparent to a few philanthropic people at Harveysburg, Ohio. The chief contributors to this movement were Isaiah Fallis and Valentine Nicholson. They built an academy, with a hall above, which they dedicated to free speech. In school and recitation rooms below there was to be no distinction of color. The tuition was to be the compensation for the teacher. Members of the Society of Friends were instructors. The late Dr. Wilson Hobbs was the first, then Dr. O. W. Nixon and his brother William Penn Nixon, also the late Israel Taylor of Indianapolis. The school was a success; the few colored pupils who availed themselves of its privileges became leading citizens in Oberlin and Washington" (Miami-Gazette newspaper of Waynesville, March 30th, 1904).
In April of 1849 a new incorporation was made for the Harveysburg School Company:
"MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE HARVEYSBURG SCHOOL COMPANY: Pursuant to previous notice, the stockholders of the Harveysburg Seminary met at said building on the 14th day of April 1849 at 2 P.M. for the purpose of organizing and availing themselves to the advantages of a law passed by the Legislature of the State of Ohio, March 10, 1845, authorizing Literary and other Societies to acquire corporate powers without applying to and obtaining letters of incorporation from the Legislature of the State. On motion Wm. Crow (a teacher from Illinois who was living directly east of Harveysburg) was called to the chair and John W. Scroggs (a physician in Harveysburg) appointed Clerk. The meeting then proceeded to and adopted a constitution and bylaws for the government of the company. On motion it was unanimously resolved that this society shall be called the Harveysburg School Company. The meeting then proceeded in conformity to the requisitions of the constitution to elect the permanent officers of the company which resulted in the election of R. B. Edwards for President (a judge), J. G. Stevenson (a coachmaker), Clerk, A. L. Antram (a merchant in Harveysburg), Hiram Yeo (a merchant in Harveysburg), and J. W. Scroggs, Trustees. On motion adjourned. J. W. Scroggs, Clerk" (This statement of incorporation can be found in the Archives of Probate Court at the Warren County, Ohio Courthouse in Lebanon, Ohio).
It appears that in the end the radical abolitions had won the struggle over the school. The above mentioned J. G. Stevenson also became the first president of the radical Anti-Slavery Society for Clinton and Warren Counties. By 1851, the second Harveysburg Academy building was being used freely by abolitionists. On December 19, 1851 it was reported in the Miami-Visitor newspaper of Waynesville that on November 30th a meeting was convened in the Academy in Harveysburg. The object was to organize an Anti-Slavery Society for Clinton and Warren Counties. J. G. Stevenson was the Chairman of this meeting and Valentine Nicholson was chosen secretary. They advocate the immediate and unconditional emancipation of slaves. The organization included both women and men and African-Americans and white people. The preamble of constitution was signed by: Dr. A. Brooke, Aaron Harvey, V. Nicholson, F. G. Birdsell, Abram Allen, Wm. F. Hilles, J. G. Stevenson, Asa Pratt (African-American), O. D. Wall (African-American), Wm. McCune, J. W. Scroggs, Sarah Allen, J. F. Crew, Lydia W. Vandeburg, Hannah Birdsell, Jane F. Nicholson, Deborah Lafettra, E. F. Varner, Mary B. Birdsell, Caroline Wall (African-American), Martha M. Dakin, Elijah Howe, W. H. Birdsell, A. Winslow (African-American), Sarah Wall (African-American), Jona. A. Ballard, T. D. Ryse, N. Doan, Jesse A. Ballard.
We know that Nathan Doan was the principal teacher at the new Harveysburg Academy from the fall of 1851 to March 1852. In the fall of 1852, Comly Jessop, became the teacher at the fading second Harveysburg Academy. (Comly went on to enter medical school and became a physician.)
The Miami-Visitor of Waynesville published advertisements for the second Harveysburg Academy: October 17, 1851, October 10th, 1851, September 12th, 1851, September 19th, 1851, April 9th, 1852, April 12th, 1852, March 5th, 1852 and September 29th 1852. After 1853, there are no more advertisements in the Miami-Visitor for the Harveysburg Academy. This is when, presumably, the private high school became a district school.
The first Harveysburg Academy was located on East Main Street in a lot in front of the Black School, which Dr. Jesse Harvey helped his wife, Elizabeth Burgess Harvey, to establish. Although the building was used as The Zion Baptist African-American Church for many decades, it is no longer extant.
The second Harveysburg Academy was located on West Main Street where the 1886 district school building now stands empty. The second Harveysburg Academy building itself is no longer extant.
The History of Warren County, Ohio (Chicago: W. H. Beers & Co., 1882), pp. 307, 653-660.
See, "Dr. Jesse Harvey", 1882 History of Warren County, Ohio, Part IV Township Histories, Massie Township by Hon. Thomas M. Wales: http://www.rootsweb.com/~ohwarren/Beers/IV/mst/0654.htm
"Memories of Long Ago" by Jane F. (Wales) Nicholson (Originally published in the Western Star, Lebanon, Ohio in the December issues of 1885 and published again in the Miami Gazette, Waynesville, Ohio ca. 1905), p. 19.
History of Harveysburg and Massie Township by Lucy McCarren (Published by the Harveysburg Historical Society), pp. 3-9.
The Miami-Visitor, July 27th, 1859, "Fifty Springs Pic-Nic".