Biography of Fred Curtis
Ottawa & Sandusky Counties, OH Biographies





FRED CURTISS. The annals of the lives of some men read more like a romance than sober history, on accout of the adventurous turn of their mind, and the circumstances under which they have lived, causing them to roam from place to place. Among these is the gentleman whose name introduces this sketch , and who is engaged in the grocery business in Clyde, Sandusky county. In Green Creek township, that county, he was born September 16, 1855, and is a son of Charles and R. J. (Hurd) Curtiss.

Tradition has been more often consulted and relied upon than recorded facts, and as a consequence the English origin of the Curtiss family, like Homer's birth place, has many locations. It is believed that our subject is descended from the Curtiss family of Stratford, Conn., who are known to have lived there in 1858, as the record shows, and were descended from William Curtiss, the founder of the family in America being one of the passengers on board the ship "Lion," which arrived in Boston harbor, Sunday evening, September 16, 1632. The paternal grandfather of Fred was born in New York State, and came to Ohio at an early day, locating in Sandusky county, where his son Charles was born; but the former, who bore the name of Benjamin Curtiss, died when his son was a mere child. The mother again married, and the son was reared by his uncle, James Cleveland. After his marriage the father of our subject settled on the farm near his uncle, and after clearing up this tract he sold and bought the old homestead in Townsend township, Sandusky county, whese he engaged in farming, but later became a merchant of Clyde, and was thus engaged until the time of his disappearance. He had been unfortunate in business, and those who knew him best assert that he was swindled by his partners. He took the matter deeply to heart, and one day, saying he was going hunting, he started out with his gun and was never heard of afterward. His fate will doubtless always be an unrevealed mystery. This occurred when our subject was only five years old, and his mother was left with five helpless children and only five dollars of visible means for their support. She was born in Sandusky county, and is still living at the age of sixty six years.

The family comprised (1) Benjamin, who, at the age of fqurteen years, enlisted in the United States army. His mother afterward secured his release on the grounds of his minority, but as he was anxious to go into the field he re-enlisted for actual service, which he experienced until the close of the war, after which he came home on a visit. He then went to the Pacific coast where he remained twenty two years, most of the time being in the employ of the government, but for the past few years he has been in the timber business. (2) Frank, who also served in the regular army, subsequently secured a position with the government, hauling supplies to the great Northwest. He became a hunter and trapper of Washington and Idaho, and in the latter State was married, but he now resides in Seneca county, Ohio. (3) Fred is next in order of birth. (4) Mary is the wife of Robert Foster, of Townsend township, Sandusky county. (5) Ada, who lives in London, Ohio, is the wife of George J. Holgate. As the mother was unable to support the family, the boys were obliged to go among strangers as soon as they were able to earn their clothes and board, and consequently the early life of Fred Curtiss was not a very pleasant one. At an early age he began peddling fruit on the cars and around the depot, after which he drove milk wagon, ice wagon and dray, and later became brakeman for the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railroad. On quitting that occupation he worked for one season on the farm of William McPherson, a brother of Gen. McPherson, and for a while lived with the General's mother, working during the winter for his board and being allowed to attend school, while during the summer season he was employed in a brick yard.

On attaining the age of nineteen years, after a series of trials and vicissitudes, Mr. Curtiss determined to act on Horace Greely's advice to "Go West" and grow up with the country. Accompanied by an old friend, he accordingly started for Wisconsin, and on arriving in New Lisbon, that State, he secured employment in a dry goods store, where he remained six months. He then went to Minnesota, and thence to Iowa, but found no permanent employment. At Sioux City, Iowa, he engaged with the captain of a steamboat to work his passage still farther west. He stood the life of a "roustabout" until he reached Fort Randall, whence he proceeded to Yankton, S. Dak., and later went to Vermillion, in the same State. On reaching the latter place he had but twenty five cents remaining, and employment was a necessity. While looking around, to his great surprise he met Frank Haywood, the friend whom he had left in Wisconsin. Through that gentleman he soon found employment in a brickyard, where he remained until securing a better position in a sawmill up the river, where he received $2.00. On leaving that place he went to Nebraska, thence to Missouri, and still later we find him in Kansas, where he went to work as a stock drover, remaining there until shipping time in the fall, when he came East with the stock.

On returning home Mr. Curtiss began work with J. L. Ames, a farmer of Sandusky county, with whom he remained for four or five years, after which he began railroading again as brakeman. On giving up his position he was employed by his uncle, T. P. Hurd, of Clyde, until he started in business for himself. He opened his present store in 1886, where he carries a full and complete line of staple and fancy groceries, and has now the largest trade of any dealer of the kind in the city.

In 1885 Mr. Curtiss wedded Miss Catherine Muichy, a native of Sandusky county, where they are both widely and favorably known. He holds membership with the Masonic Fraternity, belonging to the Blue Lodge, Clyde, and is also a member of the Knights of Pythias. As a man and citizen he is respected and esteemed by the community in which he lives, and enjoys the regard and confidence of all who know him. He is now serving as director of the First National Bank. Politically he votes with the Democratic party.

From:
Commemorative Biograohical Record
of the Counties of
Sandusky and Ottawa, Ohio
J. H. Beers & Co. 1896


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