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Nahum Curtis and Millicent Waite
Nahum CURTIS. [PC M5].
Nahum was born 7 JUL 1784 at New Salem, Franklin County, Massachusetts, son of Moses CURTIS [F136a] and Mary MECHAM [F137a]. He married Millicent WAITE [F69a] on 29 OCT 1809 at New Salem, Franklin County, Massachusetts.
About 1815 they moved to Erie County, Pennsylvania and several of the children were born there. Sometime around 1822 they moved west to Michigan. They settled on the shores of beautiful Sylvan Lake, in Oakland County, which was near Pontiac. They did considerable fishing on the lake. Even in winter they would chop a hole in the ice, and at night build a fire beside the hole to attract the fish, by which they caught a great many.
Once the sons Joseph and Moses pestered their father for permission to go hunting. At last he allowed them to go, and take and old flint-lock musket without any flint, just for relief from their pleadings. Moses took the gun and Joseph carried a lighted torch. At last they saw a deer and sneaked up behind a fallen tree and Moses carefully sighted and then said, "There, Joseph, touch it off." He lit the powder with the torch and the deer fell. The boys were so excited they dropped the gun and went home on a run. When the folks finally got up faith enough to go back with them, the deer was found where they saw it fall.
The family heard stories of how the corn grew in the corn belt down south and Lyman, being the oldest, was sent to see if it was true. On his return, he was afraid to tell that some fields would average eighty bushels to the acre, while some acres would yield a hundred bushels.
In 1833 Elders Joseph Wood and Simeon Carter came to Michigan. Later that year the Prophet Joseph, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, who had a brother, Seville, and a sister, wife of Ezekiel Kellogg, near there, also came. They held a series of meetings in a building in Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan, which later became known as the Old Mormon Schoolhouse. They bore witness of their mission as divinely revealed by an angel from heaven. During one of these meetings the Prophet Joseph Smith uttered the words, “And as a servant of God I promise you, inasmuch as you shall repent and be baptized, for the remission of your sins, you shall receive the Holy Ghost, and speak with tongues, and the signs of the Gospel shall follow you, and by this you may test me as a Prophet of God.” This prophecy was soon fulfilled by their daughter, Mary, who received the gift of speaking in tongues.
The Curtis family attended meetings there and heard the Elders preach the gospel. One night after retiring, the parents were conversing upon the principles they had just listened to, when they noticed the room begin to grow light. It grew lighter and lighter until it was as bright as noonday. Then they heard a voice say, "Nahum, the Book of Mormon is a true record of the people that lived on this continent." Soon every member of the family joined the church. Nahum, Millicent and the eldest daughter Sophronia were baptized about February of 1833. Other children, Lyman, Moses, Mary and Joseph were baptized on 14 March of that year. Soon the Pontiac Branch of the Church was organized in the Old Mormon Schoolhouse.
In this year, of 1833, which was about two years after the Saints were driven from Jackson County, Missouri, an effort was made to purchase the land from which they had been driven, that the Saints might return and make permanent homes. Zion’s Camp was organized to go to the aid of the Missouri Saints. Money was needed for it. Nahum had sold his homestead in Michigan for $800, which represented the entire wealth of the family. Of this he gave $325 to aid the saints in Missouri.
About a year after Zion's Camp, Nahum and Millicent took the remainder of the family to Missouri to join Lyman and Sophronia, who had gone there with the camp. They traveled there in a group with several other Michigan Saints. They built a good two room cabin eight miles from Far West. His daughter Sophronia taught school there, which her younger siblings also attended.
They lived for about three years in Missouri. His wife Millicent died there, at Shoal Creek on 3 SEP 1838, leaving him with 7 children. On the 4th of September, 1838 word came for Nahum and the older brothers to go and guard the brethren from the mob. The Prophet sent word for families to gather together in places he would appoint, and for them to take their grain where it would be safe. Nahum's house was appointed as one of the gathering places. Most of the young men were gone on duties but there were older men and a lot of women and children. The floor was covered with beds. On the night of the surrender and Haun's Mill Massacre some of the young men slipped away and returned to Nahum's home with the report. It gave everyone a great scare. The next day their neighbor, a Missourian who lived a mile away, came and told them what the mob told him, and what they had done. They asked about their settlement, but he directed them on the other road and told them there was no one at Nahum's house but women and children. The Prophet had promised them that they would be safe there. Levi Jackman, who was also living near the Curtis family would not be comforted. Even though he could scarcely ride, he had his son take him into Far West to see the Prophet. When asked if they would be safe Joseph Smith told him, "Yes. You will not be disturbed, but be wise, and the men should not be seen around." Soon after Nahum got home, he fitted up a team and teamster and sent them with a load to the river. While they were gone he was preparing to take his family and two of the poor families that were with him. They started out about the first of February. It was very cold and muddy. They walked most of the way, it being almost impossible to travel. At last they made it to the Mississippi River. They crossed it and camped for two weeks a little way from Quincy while a team went back again to assist others.
After being driven out of Caldwell county by the mob, they settled near Warsaw, Illinois, about two miles from where Nauvoo was later built. Nahum and his brother Jacob rented a farm near Warsaw and raised grain for their bread. His brother Jeremiah also came and lived in one room of their house for a time. The boys worked on the turn-pike, a road that was built from Warsaw. The girls worked also for whatever little they could earn to help out.
On 29 OCT 1839 while living near Warsaw, Nahum married (2) Delia BYAM REED (READ), a widow who also had 7 children (one of which, Calvin, married his daughter, Mary). Nahum’s children were glad to have a mother again and they all lived peacefully together. Delia was a good mother to all the children.
While living near Warsaw, Nahum had received a lot in Nauvoo, then called Commerce. It was a very sickly place that had been abandoned by those that had lived there. The surrounding people left them alone, assuming that they would die off and thus would be gotten rid of. However, Nauvoo prospered. Saints continued to move in and the city was built up. Nahum would travel from the farm by Warsaw and work on a house on the lot in Nauvoo. He finished the house, dug a well, and the family moved in that fall. Their house was half a mile north of the temple block. Meetings were held in a grove near the Mississippi River, about a mile and a half from Nahum's house. After the temple was commenced a bowery was quickly built for meetings. Most of the available time and effort were spent on building the temple.
When they moved to Nauvoo, he and his sons helped to polish the stones used in building the Nauvoo Temple. It sometimes took days to polish a single one. Sand was poured on a cut stone, then another large flat stone was laid on top and ground back and forth until the bottom stone was polished.
From the land they farmed there, Lyman said that when they were leaving, enough corn was sold at 15 cents a bushel to buy a horse. The remainder of the crop was left in the bin.
Nahum died 11 (9-S3) MAR 1846 at Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois.
Millicent WAITE. [PC M5].
Born 30 JAN 1787 at Athol, Worcester County, Massachusetts, daughter of Phineas WAITE [F138a] and Millicent STRATTON [F139a]. She died 3 SEP 1838 at Shoal Creek near Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri. She was buried the day before the word came for Nahum and the three oldest boys to go and guard the brethren from the mob.
CHILDREN of Nahum CURTIS and Millicent WAITE:
- Sophronia CURTIS. Born 28 FEB 1810. She went with Zion's Camp to Missouri. She joined her family in Caldwell County and taught school near Far West and later in Nauvoo. She married (1) Patrick NORRIS, who was drowned when returning from a mission in 1844. She married (2) Aurelia Curtis HOUGHTON who was also her cousin. She started from Winter Quarters with her brothers Lyman and Moses but she died from cholera on 27 JUN 1850, across from Winter Quarters while they were still making final preparations to cross the plains. Her daughter Mary also died one day after they started out. She and her daughter were buried in the same grave across from Winter Quarters. Their coffin was the bark of a tree. They were laid in half and the other half placed over them.
- [F34a]. Lyman CURTIS. [PC M5]. Born 21 JAN 1812 at New Salem, Franklin County, Massachusetts. Lyman died 3 (S13)(6?) AUG 1898 at his home in Salem, Utah County, Utah. He was buried on 7 AUG 1898 at Salem, Utah County, Utah.
- Phineas CURTIS. Born 10 JAN 1814 in New Salem, Franklin County, Massachusetts. He died 28 MAR 1815. [In Massachusetts or Pennsylvania?].
- Moses CURTIS. Born 8 MAY 1816 in Connaught, Erie County, Pennsylvania. He was baptized 14 MAR 1833 in Michigan by William Bathridge and confirmed by Samuel Bent. He was with Lyman Curtis through the trials with the mobs in Missouri and Illinois. He was taken prisoner several times with the prophet. He worked on the Nauvoo temple. He married (1) 28 MAY 1839 Aurelia JACKMAN, dau. of Angeline and Levi JACKMAN, while his family was living near Warsaw. They had 7 children. He was a member of the Nauvoo militia. One time the mob came for them, swearing they would kill every Mormon there. His captain told them he guessed they were in for it, that they must fight, but not to shoot until they could see the eyes of the mob, then take good aim. As they stood in fear but determined, the mob suddenly turned and went off under whip and spur. Later the mob asked who was the great company that came up on white horses. When told that none came, they said they knew better, that there were almost a thousand of them, all mounted on white horses. They could plainly see their glittering sabers and bayonets. He was driven out of Nauvoo with the saints. He and his family lived for a time at Cag (Keg) Creek. They built a log cabin at Winter Quarters. He worked in Missouri to provide corn for the family, the staple of their diet at that time. Moses cared for the family of Lyman Curtis while he was gone with the first group of pioneers to Utah. While they were gone, Moses continued working to get out timber to build wagons for the pioneers to use while crossing the plains. They came with the saints across the plains in 1850, when his brother Lyman returned for the families. He was sent first to Provo where they settled, clearing ground, planting wheat and going through the trials with grasshoppers. When they left Cainesville, they had about a fourth of a sack of brown sugar. Soon after moving to Provo, however, there was a real "famine" for sweets. Service berries, choke cherries, etc. were so much better with a little sugar that people were almost wild for a little sugar. In 1852 a strange thing happened that they had never seen before. The cottonwood trees looked as if there had been a snowstorm that turned the leaves white, but it was a coating of sugar. People came from far and near and gathered the limbs, some of which would break with the weight of it. The sugar crust was rinsed off, boiled down, and carefully stored away for use. He was a soldier in the Echo Canyon War (1857), after which they moved to Salem. At first they lived in the old fort. They lived in a house that his son Monroe built, one of the nicest houses in town. It was built with nails made from scraps of iron from the refuse left by Johnson's Army. Moses worked almost continually in the timber industry. His son Monroe worked the farm. At Provo he cut timber and floated the logs down the Provo River for the first big adobe meeting house in Provo. He married (2) Elizabeth HANKS on 11 JAN 1870. They had 8 children. In 1876 he was called to Arizona and worked in the United Order at Brigham City on the Little Colorado until 1881 when it was disbanded by Pres. Erastus Snow. They moved to the Gila River and built a home at Curtis, later renamed Eden. He died there 5 MAY 1907. His wife had died there 30 AUG 1883.
- Joseph CURTIS. Born 24 DEC 1818 in Connaught, Erie County, Pennsylvania. He was baptized 14 MAR 1833 in Michigan. One Sunday, while the family was living in Warsaw, he walked 15 miles to ask the privilege of going on a mission. He left on a mission on the 22nd of OCT 183?. He served a second and third mission, traveling as far as Vermont and Massachusetts, often under severe difficulties. While on a mission he drew his portion, $5.00, of his grandfather Phineas Waite's estate. He was still absent when the prophet was killed and he was called home. He married 1 JAN 1846 to Sally Ann REED. They had nine children. He helped to make wagons for the saints to cross the plains. In Iowa he started a farm on Cag (Keg) Creek, which was 25 miles east of Winter Quarters. Arrived in Utah about 1849. Moved about 1852 to Pateetneet Creek, later renamed Payson, where he homesteaded 160 acres of land. He died 1 AUG 1883.
- Hyrum Curtis. Born 19 SEP 1820 at Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan. [Either the date or the place of his birth must be in error, and must have occurred after the family left Pennsylvania.] He married 4 OCT 1859 at Provo, Utah County, Utah to Maria Eliza HAWE.
- Mary CURTIS. Born 15 MAY 1821 in Erie County, Pennsylvania. She moved with her family to the vicinity of Pontiac, Michigan. Joseph Smith and other brethern came to Michigan in 1833 and preached the gospel in a building since known as the Old Mormon Schoolhouse. Mary was baptized 14 MAR 1833 in Michigan by Almon Bathrick and confirmed by Samuel Bent. During one of the meetings in the Old Mormon Schoolhouse, Mary arose to testify of her good geelings and the goodness of God to her in bestowing upon her the Holy Ghost. One of her acquaintance who was there recorded that “While thus speaking, she quite unexpectedly to herself commenced speaking in tongues. Oh, how this thrilled everyone of those who were present! For my part I can say that the Holy Ghost filled that humble schoolhouse.” She moved with her family to Missouri soon after Zion’s Camp in 1834. She attended school there taught by her sister Sophronia. From there they were driven out and settled in Illinois. She married in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois Calvin REED (READ), son of Delia BYAM REED. On 8 FEB 1846 Calvin and Mary started from Nauvoo. They had two yoke of partly broke steers for a team. At the crossing of the Mississippi they drove onto the ferryboat but did not unhitch the team from the wagon. Someone spit tobacco juice into the eye of one of the team, making it almost crazy with pain. In thrashing around a plank in the bottom of the ferryboat was torn loose and the boat began to sink. It quickly went down until the steers were floundering in the water, some clear outside the boat. Someone was able to pull the pin from the wagon tongue and the team swam to shore. Mary was sitting in the seat of the wagon with the water up to her armpits. She raised her baby Mary Mahala up as high as she could reach to keep it from the water. Other boats came to their aide and all were saved. Many wondered why the boat did not sink all the way down. Apostle Marriner W. Merrill, while President of the Logan Temple, made it a practice of holding a one hour meeting every fast day as a testimony meeting in connection with that day’s work. On one of these occasions the Temple was largely attended, and five of the members of the old Michigan branch of the Church were present, including Mary. Some of those present joined “in the exercise of faith that the Lord would bestow the gift of tongues to this same sister, who used to speak in tongues in the Pontiac Branch, Michigan. During the meetings, to the great joy of all who were present, she was moved upon by the Holy Spirit, and spoke in tongues, and Sister Sarah Kimball interpreted the remarks she uttered. Sister Read had been working in the Logan Temple for about ten years, officiating for her dead relatives, and, strange as it is, in the evening of that same day this favored sister passed peacefully away from this mortal sphere, to reap the reward of a well spent life.” (Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Vol.58:748, No. 47, 19 NOV 1896.) Mary died 3 MAY 1888 in Logan, Cache County, Utah.
- George CURTIS. Born 27 OCT 1823 at Silvan Lake, Michigan. He accepted the gospel with the rest of the family. At age 17 he became a member of the "Red Coat Company" of the Nauvoo Legion, where he served for six years. There he became well acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith. He also served as one of the guards for Brigham Young when he left Nauvoo and camped on Sugar Creek. He set out across the plains 5 JUL 1848 in the Stephan Markham company, arriving in Utah OCT 1848. In 1849 helped settlers going to Sanpete and drove the first team that entered that valley. Married 30 OCT 1850 in the Endowment House, in Salt Lake to Emma WHALEY, with whom he traveled across the plains. In DEC 1850 settled and built a home in Payson, there being only four families there before him. In 1856 he, Lycurgus and David Wilson built a sawmill in Pondtown (later renamed Salem), where they sawed lumber until 1859, when the mill was sold to his brother Lyman Curtis. On 22 NOV 1857 George married Mary OPENSHAW. He helped his brothers Lyman and Moses to build the first canal out of Spanish Fork Canyon. When the work on the meeting house in Payson came to a standstill in 1870, George Curtis, Wm. C. McClellin, and George Pickering took over the project and completed it in two years. With an old harrow and a yoke of oxen George Curtis and John Bellows made the road from Payson to Palmyra and Spanish Fork. The raids against the polygamists commenced in 1884 and George was among the number of brethren charged. His case came up for trial in 1892. He was taken to Provo, tried the same day, and sentenced to three months in prison, only escaping a fine as well because the judge failed to mention it. He spent quite some time in the St. George Temple doing temple work. George died 5 FEB 1911 in Payson, Utah County, Utah.
- Foster CURTIS. Born 8 MAY 1826 at Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan. He was baptized a member of the church in SEP 1837 by Aaron Lion. In the spring of 1842 he went as an apprentice to learn the stone cutting trade. He worked on the Nauvoo Temple as a stone cutter and dresser. He was with the saints during the persecutions in Illinois and Missouri and bore without a complaint all the trials that fell his lot.” He was enrolled in D Company of the Mormon Battalion. He was known on their rolls as “Bob” Curtis. He marched with them from Council Bluffs to Santa Fe, and on to San Diego, California. From San Diego he went on to Los Angeles, California where he was honorably discharged. When he left Los Angeles, he went to upper California. He stopped in Monterey and helped build a Presbyterian church. From there he went to San Francisco and then to Sutter’s Fort. He was one of the men who discovered gold on the South Fork of the American River in the fall of 1848. He finally made his way to Salt Lake City on 13 NOV 1848. For a period of seven years he belonged to the body guard of the Prophet Brigham Young. For a time he was a special policeman in Salt Lake City. He also worked on the Salt Lake Temple. He married Clarissa Ann BEMIS on 12 APR 1857 at San Bernardino, California. They were married by Apostle Charles C. Rich. They moved to Newton in Cache County, Utah. The first settlers had only gone to Cache Valley in the fall of 1856, so they were among the first there. He was a member and officer in the Newton United Order, and took and active part in the organization. He died 9 APR 1880 at Newton, Cache County, Utah of paralysis. It was said of him, “He was a man of the purest principles and greatest integrity, and he was well respected by all who knew him, where ever he went he gained the good will of all his associates. He was liberal to the poor, faithful and true to his trust as a servant of God and as a good useful member of the ward in which he lived. He has passed from this earth with a full assurance of an Eternal Salvation and being sanctified in Jesus Christ.”
- Leon (Laren) CURTIS. Born 9 MAY 1828 at Pontiac, Michigan. He died 29 OCT 1838.
Delia BYAM (RYAN) REED.
She married Nahum CURTIS [F68a] on 29 OCT 1839.
- [S1]. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia. by Andrew Jenson. 1971. Vol. 4:689,697. Western Epics:Salt Lake.
- [S2]. Sketches of the Curtis Family. by S. C. Richardson. 1926.
- [S3]. Ancestral File. Version 4.13.
- [S4]. Correspondence from Seletta Pitcher. 9 SEP 1995.
- [S5]. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~popfraley/ThompsonTurnbow/pafg108.htm.
- [S6]. Temple Manifestations. 1974. Joseph Heinerman. Joseph Lyon and Associates, Inc. dba Magazine Printing and Publishing:Salt Lake City, UT. (quotes from Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Vol. 58:748, No. 47. 19 NOV 1896.).
- [S7]. Sardine Canyon has Fishy History -- Three Times Over. Deseret News. 5 SEP 1991.