Henry A. Curtis


Mr. Henry A. Curtis    1876-1971

Interviewers W.J. Langlois, R. H. McGowan.

Early life in Malone, N.Y. 1880-1930.  Lumbering and farming Brandon and Duane, N.Y.

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   TAPE 1

Track 1                                                                                                        Page 7

 Growing up in Malone New York; family background about his father growing up in Brandon and his visits  the Hutchin’s family of Bandon, where his father grew up as a ward of Henry Hutchins; His father ran away to U.S. Civil War and was in the Army of Occupation;  Visiting his grandparents in Brandon NY and briefly attending school there; stories from his father about growing up in Brandon, NY; Home decor of their Grove Street home in Malone at the end of the 19th Century;  visiting his grandparent Bemis’s dairy farm south of Malone, NY; Growing up in the Baptist religion and church in Malone; religious services ca. 1900; more on home life;  Father worked in the Webster’s Tannery on Mill Street in Malone, NY and some details about the tannery; more on home life at the end of the 19th Century;  Description of attending a one room school in Malone in the late 19th Century.

  Track 2                                                                                                       Page 31

 Talking about his father and Henry Hutchins going to Reynoldston, NY and clearing land in Brandon; Neighbors on Grove Street; working managing stores in  Massachusetts; More on housing style etc.; making money as a boy cutting lawns and looking after cows in Malone, NY; Horse and buggies; His father’s store selling produce and flowers and candy on Main St. in Malone NY; Sliding on the hills in Malone with sleds; attending Franklin Academy; day to day life and splitting wood; Christmas celebrations;  home remedies; more on food and day to day life

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Henry Curtis

Background by Elizabeth Menke (Granddaughter)

December 2011

He married Matilda Eunice Barkman August 9th. 1897 in Newark New Jersey

They had 5 children four daughters and 1 son. Eunice Louise B. Jan 9 1899 Ruth Anna Born August 15 1906; Esther Curtis Born November 12 1908 Henry Archibold Born October 14 1910 and Elizabeth Harriet born July 10 1914.

Gramp was a Mason and he belonged to Corinthian Lodge # 57 In New Jersey. Later transferred to North Star Lodge in Brushton, NY.

 He had several different type jobs in his life time. In the early years he was manager of a store that sold Phonographs and Columbia records in Orange -New Jersey.

For a time he sold Aluminum kettles much as they now sell Lifetime kettles going into homes and preparing and serving meals with his ware.

In the early part of W.W.2 grandpa worked at (Camp Shanks) in I believe New Jersey If it was in New York It would have been close to the New Jersey boarder. He commuted from Hackensack NJ every day. It was a camp where the soldiers were sent just before they left for overseas. He also was in the civil defence as a first aid person and a plane spotter if the city had a call for black out.

He helped Bill (Menke) and I build this home. He was 78 at that time and did all kinds of work with us: Climbed the scaffolding, worked with laying cement blocks, nailed walls, anything we did he did also.

His father Edma Curtis lived in Malone and also in South Bangor, south of 11B . I can’t think of the road name just now but know the area. Edma married Ruth Bemis. She lived just out-side of the village on the way to Duane. I believe the road now is called the Childs road. There is also a Catholic cemetery now on some of the Bemis land. This is the farm that grew hops in the third generation of that family. By third generation I mean third who lived in this area. The brick house that the second generation (Ebenezer built) and his son Jonathan lived, is still standing. It is north of the cemetery on the same side of the road. I also have a picture of the home. Edma and Ruth had 7 Children. Grandpa Curtis was their first born. For a time Edma had a fruit store on Main street in Malone. Grandpa remembers working at the store. I have a picture of that too, if I can find it.

Both Jonathan Bemis and Edma Curtis are both buried in Morningside Cemetery. Timothy Bemis the first generation to move here and Ebenezer Bemis are both buried in Webster Street Cemetery. Reuban Curtis is the Farther of Edma Curtis. He was listed in the 1840 census in Peru NY and 1850 in Chateaugay NY. Having trouble tracing him. Scuttlebutt handed down said he went west during the gold rush and was never heard from after leaving. He married Elizabeth Mitchell.

“Stoney Acres” was my Mom and Dad’s farm and it was on the Gale Road in Brushton.


 Edma Curtis 

Written by Eunice Curtis Van Ess

 Born: 20 August 1848, Peru NY

 Died:  7 August 1930, Malone NY – buried in Morningside Cemetery, Malone, NY

 Civil War Record:

Served under John Power Capt. 34 Inf. Enlisted at seventeen years

Discharged: 29 July 1868

19 years 5 ft. 6″ Grey eyes brown hair. Character on discharge:  “Very Good”

Henry Hutchins was appointed guardian of Eddie (Edma) Curtis as he was under l6 and his grandfather on his mother’s side had left him $300, He lived in Brandon with Henry Hutchins.

 He told me that when they would ride pass the Bemis Home he would see Ruth Bemis in the yard and fell in love with her then. When he was 26 and she 19, they were married.

 They had a fruit Store in Malone where the Farmers National Bank was. Grandma wanted to live in the city, and so they moved to Newark N.J.  My Dad was 16 at the time.  After 20 years they bought a farm in South Bangor.  (my Grandson Ralph has bought the house next to it).  He loved the farm; he had pigs, chickens and cows. He would talk to them while milking.  He had a name for all of them.

 Once after our vacation on the farm, we were leaving by train to go home. Grandma wanted to fix a lunch for us to take on the train.  She asked Grandfather to go out and kill a little rooster for her.  I went with Grandpa to help him catch it. Well we caught it and he put it on the block to chop its head off.  Instead he only chopped its beak off  and it ran around and bleeding and putting up such a fuss  that Grandma came out and caught it.  She took it my his neck and broke it. She said to Grandpa:  I never should have asked you to kill it in the first place.

 He also raised navy beans on the land East of the house and above it.  Aunt Ruth used to pull them and bundle them with the roots up so to dry. Then Grandfather would flail them out on the barn floor. At night we would sit around the kitchen table and clean them. He only got $3.00 a bushel at that time. After they were cleaned we would have a lunch, and Grandpa telling stories of the Civil War and his time he lived in Brandon. We would have apples, popcorn, maple sugar, home-made bread cookies and milk for lunch.

 When his health broke and he could not farm any longer,  they went to live with his son Henry in Orange N.J.  He worked at Edison’s in West Orange. Just had to wheel records from one department to another. He said it was the easiest work he had ever had and made the most money. After a few years went back to Malone and served at the Bates School as janitor, until his health broke and he retired.

 He ran away twice to be in the Civil War. He wanted to be with his brother John. The first time they sent him home. The second time they let him stay. He was a water boy. When he became of age he enlisted.  He never did catch up with his brother.  It was not till the war was over and they both were back in Malone

 Grandma & Grandpa lived with us for awhile in So. Orange N.J. Grandma took care of me when Elvira was born.

 I am so glad I have the memories of both of them.

 Edma’s Parents were Reuban Curtis and Elizabeth (Mitchell) Curtis

Father of Edma lived in Peru N.Y. Be was a shoe maker and recorder in an account book at Miners Plattsburg, N.Y. He is listed as making a pair of boots for Mr. Miner and paid with a keg of rum.

 He went west with the gold rush and was never heard from.  His wife went to live in Long Island with her daughter. She ran a boarding house. Grandma Curtis told me she was a very proud lady and did not want to stay in Malone to have to earn a living.

 Genealogy created by Matilda (Barkman) Curtis  –   provided by Elizabeth Menke 2012 

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Well, not exactly that. I am only a new House, but

I am looking forward to the time when I will have been lived in

Long enough so that I can really say “I am a home”


I am proud of my origin and why shouldn’t I be

Few houses had as much love and thought go into their

construction as I have. And fewer still are built entirely by their owners.


The first that I can remember is hearing their discussions about the

arrangements and about the material to be used in my construction.


All arrangements were carefully planned by the young couple and no part of it

was put up until they were sure it was just the way they really wanted it.


Each stone and every piece on lumber had to be right and was fitted in place

With care and love.


I am strong—— to shelter and protect them from any storm that comes. I have

Thick walls to keep their love in and to keep it warm, and I promise to drive

out any little troubles that may arise before they can become big troubles.


I am eagerly anticipating little feet dancing over my floor and happy

Childhood voices echoing thru my rooms.


I pledge myself to devote my entire life to sheltering and protecting my owners.




This was written by my Grandfather Henry A Curtis.

He helped us build our home and six children later he lived with us awhile,

playing games with the children and tending a flower garden he planted.


  Provided by Elizabeth Menke 2012

2 responses to “Henry A. Curtis”

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