Sunday, January 11, 2015

#52Ancestors: Week 2 - Moses Monroe Curtis

The topic this week is "King".    I struggled with deciding how to apply this topic.   I looked for the name "King" in my family - that failed.  I looked for someone interesting that was involved King Phillip's War - and while it was interesting to do that research, I didn't find a single person that made sense to blog about.  Lots of controversy over who may or may not have been involved and what they may or may not have done - but nothing concrete.  Next - I looked for places named "King".   Charlton Kings popped up.   I have friend that lives there - so it caught my eye.  The wife of my 1st Cousin 4x removed came from there and that led me to him - Moses Monroe Curtis.    So - my post this week is about him!    In a very round about way - the theme is in there!!

I recently read the book:  Brigham Young, Pioneer Prophet by John G. Turner.   I learned a lot from that book about both Brigham Young, and the experience of the Mormon church members in Nauvoo, Winter Quarters and Utah.  Things that I never learned in Primary or Utah History.    The author includes a lot of description of the events going around the Mormons so I learned a lot about the history of the time as well.  Researching the history of Moses Monroe Curtis was amazing because he was alive, and in some cases, near many of the key events going on at this time covered in some detail in the book.

Moses Monroe Curtis was born in October 28, 1840 in Nauvoo, Illinois.    When he was 4 years old, Joseph Smith was killed in Carthage.   Moses was very young, but did recall the incident - primarily the experience of seeing the bodies laid out as people walked by to pay respect.

The Curtis family headed west with the Mormons who were forced to leave Nauvoo.   At that time their primary food source was corn..   Parched, ground and eaten with milk or baked into bread.  Rusk was made by taking the bread, crumbling it up, and drying it in the oven.   Before the family could leave, they had to make enough Rusk to get from Nauvoo to Winter Quarters.  

By 1847 the family was living in Winter Quarters.   It was decided that Moses' uncle, Lyman Curtis, would head to Utah in 1847 with both his and Moses' families possessions, and then he would return for the others.    During this time, Moses Sr. then father worked on the Mississippi for corn.  The family prepared the corn for themselves to use on their own journey and also sold corn for 10 cents per bushel to buy provisions needed to head to Utah.     Lyman's wife, Sophrina and his daughter Melissa both died from Cholera while at Winter Quarters.

By the spring of 1850, the corn had also been supplemented with buckwheat, and the family was ready to head to Utah.     They were part of the Stephen Markham Company which left between June 20-27, 1850 and arrived in Utah between October 1-3, 1830.  The company consisted of 77 people.

The company encountered many buffalo herds and frequently had to stop, circle the wagons, chain the cattle and wait while herds of buffalo stampeded around them.   The buffalo also provided a source of food.  Occasionally a buffalo was killed and the meat made into jerky to eat along they way.

They company had contact Indians several times during the trip.  Some of these meetings were combative and hostile.   One story appears in 2 sources.    The basics of the story are the same, but some of the details differed.     A Cheyenne Indian wished to acquire a white woman to take as a wife.   Some of the boys were talking to the Indian and someone made a joke that for a price, the Indian could acquire a white woman.   There is 2 versions of the price - one says it was 7 horses, the other says it was 5 horses, 2 buffalo hides, 2 antelope skins and some dried meat.   In any case - the Indian later returned with the asking price.   The company tried to explain this was a joke, and some sort of drama ensued.   One version says that the company had to give the Indian much needed supplies to settle the matter, another version says that the company was followed for several days by an Indian party, and one night the Indian attempted to abduct one of the girls.  A fight ensued, the girl was saved and the Indians disappeared, and were not seen again.

Once the family arrived in Salt Lake City, they were dispatched to what is now Provo and cleared land, built a house and planted crops.   Moses grew up on the farm and continued to have periodic encounters with local Indians - some friendly, and some hostile.

April 1862, Moses was called by Brigham Young to go to Winters Quarters and bring a company of immigrants to Utah.   One of the immigrants he assisted in bring to Utah was a young lady from Charlton Kings (Cheltenham) England.  The young men sent from Utah had been full of pranks and mischief while in Winter Quarters, and some of the immigrants feared them.  This fear grew large enough amoungst the population of Winter Quarters, that the Apostles living there had to step in and restore confidence regarding the ruffians from Utah who were to take them to Utah.  Moses returned to Utah with the Homer Duncan Company in 1862.    One of the members of the company was Martha Sims, who had come from Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, England with her family to join the Mormons in Utah.    Martha was not scared of the young ruffian from Utah and  once they reached Utah Martha and Monroe Moses Curtis were married.

Mariah Curtis and Martha Sims
I could not find any specific statement that Moses was a polygamist, but it is indicated in many places that he had 3 wives.   The Birth/Death/Marriage dates, combined with the children's dates of birth make is pretty clear that Moses practiced plural marriage.

Moses Monroe an Sarah Josephine Curtis Family
By 1877, Moses had married his second wife, Sarah Josephine Mecham, a widow with 3 children.  The Curtis family  was asked to join the United Order in Arizona and to head there to assist in settling the area and setting up the order.     The family first settled in Northern Arizona, the moved to the Gila valley in 1880 where they settled permanently.    The city now known as Eden was first named Curtis Ward, and Moses Monroe Curtis was selected as the Bishop.

From Salt Lake Tribune, May 13, 1910
In 1879 Moses married his 3rd wife,  Miriam Melina Rudd, who was also a widow and had 4 children.

Moses and Malina Curtis
Moses lived in Eden for 37 years then moved to Thatcher.   His wife, Martha died in Eden.   Sara Josephine died while the family was living in Thatcher, and Malina died in Pima.

Moses died while living in Pima of a heart attack on March 13, 1929.   His obituary lists that he had 29 children, 136 Grand Children and 91 Great Grand Children.    It also says that the story of his life would make an interesting book.

Some of the key United States and Mormon Church historical events that Moses Monroe Curtis lived through are:
  • 1844 - Joseph Smith murdered in Carthage Illinois
  • 1844 - Brigham Young sustained as President of the Mormon Church
  • 1846 - Mormon's expelled from Nauvoo, Illinois
  • 1847 - First Pioneer Company leaves Winter Quarters for Utah.  (Moses Uncle Lyman included.)
  • 1848 - Gold Discovered in California
  • 1850 - Utah becomes a Territory
  • 1857 - Mountain Meadows Massacre
  • 1861 to 1865 - Civil War
  • 1864 - Abraham Lincoln assasinated
  • 1867 - Salt Lake Tabernacle completed
  • 1869 - Transcontinental Railroad completed at Promontory Point, Utah
  • 1877 - St. George Temple dedicated
  • 1880 - John Taylor sustained as 3rd Mormon Church President
  • 1889 - Wilford Woodruff sustained as 4th Mormon Church President
  • 1893 - Salt Lake Temple dedicated
  • 1898 - Lorenzo Snow sustained as 5th Mormon Church President
  • 1898 - Spanish American War
  • 1901 - Joseph F. Smith sustained as 6th Mormon Church President
  • 1903 - Wright Brothers first flight
  • 1908 - Ford Introduces the Model T
  • 1914 to 1918 - World War I
  • 1917 - Heber Grant sustained as 7th Mormon Church President

Below is an article that appeared in 1923 in the Improvement Era periodical about Moses Monroe Curtis

  • Obituary from the Thatcher Guardian, 1929.  Found in or  The newspaper archives go only as far as 1922, so not available on - yet.
  • Moses Monroe Curtis, Pioneer, The Improvement Era, Volume 26, No. 10, Page 899-905, available from Internet Archive - link:
  • Stephen Markham Company Information:
  • Almost an Indian Bride by Susan Ellen Johnson, From Young Women's Journal , June 1907,
  • Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, by Frank Esshorn.  Link:
  • US History Timelines:
  • Salt Lake Tribue, May 13, 1910, archives at:

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