Biography of D. A. Curtis
Monroe County, MI Biographies

D. A. CURTIS was born in Smithfield, Madison county, New York, December 17, 1820. His father, David Curtis, moved to Ontario county in the spring of 1824, and three years later moved to Greece, a small town near Rochester. His mother, Wealthy (Dewey) Curtis, died in 1832, and his father sold the farm and moved to Michigan, taking a canal boat as far as Buffalo and then embarking on a steamer for Detroit. At the latter place the family were transferred with all their household goods to a one master scow, decked over at both ends, and commanded by a Frenchman who had two mates. A third man in the crew was a Yankee, who could beat the French on profanity. The scow floated down as far as Maiden during the night, and half of the passengers took a small boat and pulled for Canada for the purpose of getting breakfast, but at no place could they procure breakfast enough for the company. At last a negro who knew one of the men offered to cook them a meal, and seated in his garden they enjoyed a well-cooked breakfast. Using his jack-knife for his ham, he found when reaching the scow, he had forgotten to replace it in his pocket. The scow floated before a good breeze for a few hours, and then was becalmed. He, with others, took a boat and rowed ashore, where they found a deserted house and a fine orchard from which they gathered apples. At night the wind arose, and the next morning they found themselves at the mouth of the River Raisin. The scow was anchored all day, and men were sent up to Monroe for bread, etc. They did not return until afternoon, when the anchor was raised, and the scow, attached to the small boat by a rope, was pulled up to the dock. A cousin met the family with his wagon and took them to his home, where supper was awaiting them, and Mr. Curtis remembers it as "the best meal of victuals mortal ever tasted."

After a few days rest they moved up the river to visit "Uncle Noble Curtis," near the George Sorter place. From there they passed on to where Dundee now stands, part of the company going on foot. Mr. Curtis drove the wagon, but being a small boy he managed to run over a sapling that had been cut down and fallen across the road, and winding through the wheel turned the wagon over and emptied all the contents. They crossed the river to Dundee on a rope ferry, which was a great curiosity to the boy. The mills near this ferry were owned by S. VanNest, who also kept a store and managed the hotel; Mr. Pine was the clerk; Mr. Wilcox, father of Byron and Delos, lived below the village; Captain Ingersoil and the judge, his brother, were residents of the settlement; Asa Curtis and Truman Curtis, his brother, lived in the woods about half a mile west. On the south side of the river were Peter Read, Mr. Pitts and Jonathan Fisher.

The townships of Dundee and Summerfield met together for "town meeting" in 1833, and nineteen voters were present at that meeting, which was held in a log school house near John N. Wadsworth's place. The year before, the village had no school house, no church organization, and the Mormons began active work in the settlement - succeeded in luring away a number, but their places were soon filled by new settlers. Enos Kent and Mr. Roof settled on the south branch of the Macon in 1832. Bears and wolves were thick in the woods, and Mr. Curtis, Sr., killed two bears and any number of deer, being a "mighty hunter" Foxes troubled them exceedingly in their chicken coops, and the coons destroyed their corn, but Mr. Curtis was fortunate in owning a dog that killed "dozens of foxes and hundreds of coons."

At this time the roads from place to place were mere paths winding around stumps and bogs, and Mr. Curtis remembers seeing a lumber wagon hitched to two yoke of oxen and driven by a woman. The load consisted of One. and one-half bushels of grain. They came from two and one-half miles west of Dundee, and before they reached the "Millway Every ox had his tongue out full length."

History of Monroe County, Michigan
Talcott E. Wing, Editor
Munsell & Company, Publishers
New York 1890.

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