Biography of Edward Curran
Oneida County, NY Biographies





Edward Curran, who passed away in Utica on the 4th of June, 1894, was a lifelong resident of this city. He was not only a prominent business man, but a public benefactor, whose memory will long be cherished.

He was born on the 25th of February, 1835, the fourth in order of birth of the five children of Edward and Amanda M. H. (Bartlett) Curran, his father's home at that time being on Main street, near the site of the present New York Central depot. His education was obtained in the advanced school and academy of the city, at the DeLancey Institute in Hampton, and at the Ellington (Connecticut) Academy. On leaving the latter institution he entered Hamilton College, from which he was graduated with high honors, and with membership in Alpha Delta Phi, in 1856.

It was his intention to enter the ministry, for which he was peculiarly fitted by nature, but the death of his father immediately after his graduation materially changed his plans. The old hide and leather business founded by Edward Curran, Sr., in 1829, was at this time carried on under the firm name of Curran & Son, the junior partner being Charles C. Upon his father's death Mr. Curran went into the store, forming the firm of Edward Curran's Sons, a name that has ever since been retained. After the death of Charles C., in 1858, another brother, George L., succeeded him and still continues the business. The house has always handled hides, leather and shoemakers' findings. It is one of the oldest and best known in the state and among the most interesting landmarks of the city.

But it was outside of his commercial relations and among the people of his native city that Mr. Curran left the most indelible impress of his true character and manly worth. He was best known and appreciated by those who were the least aware of his private business affairs, for in these he was largely brought into contact with men at a distance. At home he was preeminently a public benefactor, taking a lively and an active interest in all important projects which promised general advancement and permanent good. He was a stockholder and director in the First National Bank and from 1888 until his death its vice president, and was also a trustee of the Utica Savings Bank and a member of its executive committee. In all these capacities he manifested a rare knowledge of financial affairs and ably assisted in directing them, but his highest ambition was to be helpful to his fellowmen. To the poor and nn fortunate he unostentatiously gave liberally and cheerfully of his not overabundant means, and in this respect no man enjoyed a brighter record. He was well known for his charitable acts and equally well known for his kindness, consideration and good deeds. He was a wise giver, possessing a keen discrimination between the worthy and unworthy.

In 1880 he was elected a charity commissioner, an office to which he was three times reelected, and served with signal ability and universal satisfaction. In this capacity he resolutely stood for economy, but just as firmly for justice and right. He also served for many years on the committee on orphan asylums, and was likewise a member of the committee on expenditures from the special. fund. He was one of the founders and president of the Utica Free Dispensary, one of the first officers of Caxton Hospital, and he was secretary of the Home for the Homeless at the time of his death. Mr. Curran was also a member of the advisory board of the Woman's Christian Association and the first president of the Young Men's Christian Association, with which he was long, actively and prominently identified. During the early history of the last named institution he was not only its guiding officer, but one of its chief and most liberal supporters. He was always fond of outdoor sports and in his youth was quite an athlete, pitching for a Utica ball club.

Mr. Curran was the founder of the Homestead Aid Association of Utica, one of the largest and most successful organizations in the country for the benefit of the local wage earner and home builder. The idea of developing this field was suggested to him by F. Leroy Smith, who was familiar with its operations in other eastern cities, but the inception, maintenance and success were due to his indomitable efforts and sagacious management. He was its father, its prime mover and its watchful guardian, and upon him during the first ten years of its existence devolved the heaviest duties and proper direction. To its development he devoted his best efforts, and that they were entirely unselfish is evidenced by the fact that they were without enumeration or hope of reward other than that which came from the mere knowledge of doing good. In its interests he labored early and late; he was its stanchest champion; his advice and counsel guided its affairs and the actions of his associates; and often he advanced payments for worthy men who through misfortune were unable to make them themselves. The association was organized by himself and others in February, 1884, and he served as its president from that time until his death, performing much of its detail work and conscientiously guarding its ever growing interests. He contributed numerous articles in its behalf to local newspapers, which were widely copied by journals devoted to savings and loan organizations.

In politics Mr. Curran was a stanch republican, but steadfastly refused to accept political office. He was a member and for several years an elder of Westminster Presbyterian church and was actively interested in its Sunday school. His devotion to church work was akin to that displayed in the interests of charity, and his influence in both was of the purest, noblest and most elevating character. He was a member of the Oneida Historical Society and also belonged to the Manufactures Association. His death was the occasion of deep and widespread regret. Touching resolutions and glowing tributes to his memory were passed by every organization with which he had been connected, and in addition scores of letters were received by the family from persons all over the country, each bearing a tender encomium of his rare worth and high personal character.

On the 20th of October, 1864, Mr. Curran was united in marriage to Miss Lucy Helen Doolittle, by whom he had two sons: Richard Langford Curran, who is engaged in the general advertising business in New York city; and Sherwood Spencer Curran, who is a graduate of Cornell University and secretary of the Homestead Aid A ssociation of Utica. Charles R. Doolittle, the father of Mrs. Curran, was a son of General George Doolittle, who removed to Whitestown about 1787 and became the first commissioned officer of militia in Oneida county, serving in the capacity of brigadier general with great distinction. He wedded Miss Grace Wetmore, a native of Connecticut, and took up his abode in a house on Sauquoit creek, Utica, where Charles R. Doolittle was born August 4, 1799. The latter was for a number of years engaged in the dry-goods business in association with his brother, Jesse, conducting a store on Genesee street, near Catharine street, and gaining an enviable reputation as an honorable and successful man. His demise occurred in Utica on the 9th of October, 1841. In early manhood he married Miss Abigail Pickard Obear, who was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, on the 26th of March, 1811, and passed away on the 27th of July, 1890. Her father was consul to India for a number of years and also spent several years of his life on the sea. Unto harles R. and Abigail P. (Obear) Doolittle were born four daughters, namely: Abbie O., who is the wife of Robert S. Williams; Cornelia S., the wife of James B. Pomeroy; Mrs. Lucy H. Curran; and Mary J., the wife of Dr. Hurd. Mrs. Curran, who makes her home at No. 60 Oneida street, has lived in Utica from her birth to the present time and is well known and highly esteemed throughout the city.

From:
History of Oneida County, New York
From 1700 to the present time
of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
By: Henry J. Cookinham
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago 1912


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