Saturday, April 26, 2014

Look For A Grandmother, Find A Vice President

Charles Curtis, the Vice President, was not, in the beginning, my problem. I was looking
for the ancestry of my great, great grandmother, Huldah Curtis (Parke) and knew nothing
about Charles, his father Orrin or his grandfather, William.

In the course of researching my Parke line I had learned that Huldah Curtis had married
Thomas Harris Parke in Dearborn county, Indiana 14 August 1825. She had been sealed
to Thomas Harris at the Latter Day Saints Endowment House Salt Lake City March 1852.
There Huldah gave her date of birth as 17 July 1805; her place of birth as White, Ontario,
New York.

I had also received from relatives, some very distant, three (3) copies of Thomas Harris
Parkes Logan, Utah LDS Temple proxy baptism record of 1888. The type written copy
I was using showed him to be a son-in-law of Thomas Curtis, a son-in-law of Betsey
Curtis and a brother-in-law of Eunice Peat. Additionally, I knew the LDS Ancestral File
showed Huldah’s parents to be Thomas Curtis and Betsey Curtis.

I started my Curtis line research with these two (2) documents. Over the years, while not
specifically working my Curtis line I had acquired additional background information.
Because Thomas Harris and Huldah had lived in Vermillion County, Eugene township,
Indiana I had the census records from there, 1820-1860. The 1840 census showed that
Thomas Harris and Huldah were neighbors to William Curtis and Noah Hubbard, William’s

In correspondence with others on the Parke/Curtis line I had been given a copy of a 1939
interview with Joseph A Park(e) son of Oregon pioneers whose father, Joseph Park(e)
was a nephew of Thomas Harris and whose mother, Mary Curtis, was a daughter of
William’s. In the interview Mr. Park(e) mentions that his mother’s oldest brother was father
of Charles Curtis who had been Vice President.

Someone else had given me a partial group sheet that showed Philip Lunger, another
nephew of Thomas Harris, married to Ruth Hubbard sister of Permelia Hubbard, William’s
wife. This background information suggested to me that William and Huldah were
brother and sister.

This information also suggested to me that when I was serious about my Curtis ancestry
I had only to review a biography of Charles Curtis. When I did, much to my dismay, his biography
said nothing about his Curtis line earlier than William. It did say that the Curtises
like the Hubbards were thought to be from New England.

Because I continued to believe that a Vice President of the United States would have his
family history established earlier than his grandfather I contacted a researcher in Shawnee
County Kansas where William died and Charles was born. The researcher sent me some
family information, but again nothing earlier than William. I wrote telling her I could not
believe that a doctorate candidate, University of Kansas had not researched the family line
of the only Kansan to come within a heart beat of the White House.

I was now, in a sense, back to page one. Both William and Huldah had been born in upstate
New York so I studied the New York census records 1790-1810. Because William was
said to have been in Ohio before coming to Indiana and Huldah had married in Dearborn
County, Indiana, I studied the Southwest Ohio/Southeast Indiana census records 1810-
1820. I was looking for a family of unknown size, but in 1810 for example, with a young
boy and two (2) young girls; headed by a man with a very common name and in a large,
but specific area. Even using an area wide, multi decade, accelerated index microfiche I
was not certain I found the family. Mostly I was making notes.

As I was reviewing my notes and documents and comparing for the first time the three
(3) copies of Thomas Harris Parkes Logan Temple record I noticed the handwritten copy
differed from the two (2) typed copies. On this copy Thomas Harris said he was a brotherin-
law (not son-in-law) to Betsey Curtis and as on the others, a brother-in-law to Eunice
Peat. If correct, both I and others had been working from altered evidence. It also gave the
Thomas Curtis family three (3) daughters.

To check which Logan Temple copy was correct I wrote to Logan. The LDS Logan
Temple film like most LDS Temple records is a restricted film, not available in Family History
Centers. I asked for verification of Betsey’s relationship to Thomas Harris. Their reply
was that Thomas Harris was shown as brother-in-law.

While waiting for a reply from Logan I re-examined all my research notes on the Curtis
line. Very early in my research, while in Salt Lake City, I had examined all the Curtis
family books on file at the Family History Library. I noted from the book A Family Named
Curtis that “an untraced Thomas Curtis married 1790 a Eunice Peet.”

I now had a Thomas Curtis married to one of the names on the Logan Temple record and
in a time frame to be the parents of William and Huldah. I was also at this time comparing
given name patterns and noticed that both William and Huldah had named daughters Eunice
and sons Ira. This led me to think Eunice’s father was named Ira.

In an effort to involve other Curtis family members I wrote a letter to about twenty (20)
of them. Names for the most part taken from the LDS submitters file on the Huldah Curtis-
Permelia Hubbard lines. I had followed this practice a number of times with my Parke
line without results. The Curtis letter was also mailed to the Curtis Society whose address
 I found in the Family Registry file, Family History Center. In time, this letter, reached the
desk of Arthur Hutchinson who replied giving me a reference and a quote from the family
history John Peet 1597-1684 that identified a Eunice Peet who married a Thomas Curtis,
Huntington, Connecticut 1790.

In this first letter I wrote that Thomas Harris was wrong when he said he was brother-inlaw
of Eunice Peat and that he was in fact a son-in-law. Because Betsey was on the Logan
Temple record and I had found a Philip Curtis neighbor to William in the 1830 and 1850
census I added them to the family.

For this letter I guessed the family to be Thomas Curtis and Eunice Peet Curtis parents
of four children: Philip, William, Huldah and Betsey.

While the Logan Temple record had a heading for date and place of birth it was clear
that some of the entries referred to other events, perhaps date and place of death. Thomas
Curtis, for instance, had no date but Hamilton, Ohio as a place. Eunice Peat had no date but
Ray, Missouri as a place. I now started looking at early Ray County records.
One of the first volumes I examined on the Missouri shelf at the Family History Library
was the Index of Purchases-US Land in Missouri 1818-1837. I did not find Eunice Peet
Curtis. To my surprise I found Harris Parke, Philip Curtis, Noah Hubbard and a Charles P
Curtis none of whom I had known were ever in Missouri. I immediately asked a Jackson,
Missouri researcher to get the land descriptions and find out what the “P” in Charles P.
Curtis stood for.

Her response gave me the land descriptions and a referral to the Bureau of Land Management,
Springfield, Virginia. It did not tell me what the “P” stood for. The BLM response
had the complete property transactions and a plat map. There they were, most of the family,
Harris Parke, Noah Hubbard, Philip Curtis and with his full name, Charles Peet Curtis.
I now issued a second Curtis letter detailing the Missouri land record information and
adding Charles Peet Curtis to the family.

On the LDS International Genealogical Index I found both Charles Curtis and Elizabeth
Curtis marriages. Charles to Sarah Hubbard Vermillion County, Indiana, 29 March 1832;
Elizabeth to Henry Bailey, Dearborn County, Indiana, 12 Oct. 1826. Henry was also living
near William in 1830 and William and Huldah 1840. This I concluded had to be their sister
Elizabeth and Family.

Meanwhile I was studying a Nauvoo Illinois Temple proxy baptism record made in 1844
for Thomas Harris and Huldah. This record had been described incorrectly to me earlier
and I had decided that it was not my Curtis line. Again it was on a restricted film so I could
not order it. My Salt Lake City researcher, sensing my confusion, sent me a photo copy
of the pertinent information. It was certainly my Huldah Curtis (Parke) but it showed her
non-Curtis grandparents to be Gideon Pratt and Betsey Pratt. The given names agreed
with her Peet grandparents. The family name was dramatically different. I rationalized this
difference as a misspelling, incorrectly heard. It did after all start with a “P” and have about
the same number of letters.

In the face of this conflicting evidence I issued my third Curtis letter. I wrote that I was
satisfied that the circumstantial evidence established Thomas Curtis and Eunice Peet, married
1790 as the parents of Philip Curtis, William Curtis, Charles Peet Curtis, Huldah Curtis
(Parke) and Elizabeth Curtis (Bailey).

With the conflicting evidence there was likely to be skeptics who would not agree with
my rationalizations. I contacted a second Salt Lake City researcher, my first one had left for
research in England. I asked her to recheck the Nauvoo Temple record. It was, in my opinion,
so neatly and uniformly written it had to be a copy. The researcher found that it was a
copy and that the original was in the Church Historical Department not available for photocopying.
She had a researcher in the Department view the original and notate my copy to
match the original. Her notations were such that it was clear to me that the original entry
had been Peat and not Pratt as transcribed. While it certainly looks like “Prat”-one (1) “’T”
it must be evaluated by 1844 writing styles and the early history of the LDS Church-where
two Pratt brothers were prominent in the highest Church circles, neither of whom spelled
their name with one (1) “T”.

Thanks to a very conscientious researcher I had a plausible explanation for the Pratt
name. In my opinion my original theory had been reasonably established if only with circumstantial

I’ve written my Topeka, Kansas researcher and detailed the Curtis/Peet ancestry of
Charles Curtis, Vice President. I’ve told her that when the eventual doctoral candidate
shows up let him browse through some old records before she shows him the completed

I’ve had the documentation supporting my theory that Thomas Curtis and Eunice Peet
are the parents of William Curtis, grandfather of Charles Curtis, Vice President of the
United States 4 March 1929 - 3 March 1933 bound. I’ve distributed seven (7) copies to
major genealogical libraries and the Curtis Society.

Eunice Peet’s ancestry appears to be clearly defined. Not so with Thomas Curtis. It is
thought that he descends Nathaniel, Nathaniel, Zachariah, William, Widow Elizabeth. This
has not been clearly determined. We still have a challenge.

CURTIS, Charles, (1860 - 1936)

Senate Years of Service: 1907-1913; 1915-1929 
Party: Republican; Republican 

Library of Congress
CURTIS, Charles, a Representative and a Senator from Kansas and a Vice President of the United States; born in Topeka, Kans., January 25, 1860; attended the common schools; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1881 and commenced practice in Topeka; prosecuting attorney of Shawnee County 1885-1889; elected as a Republican to the Fifty-third and to the six succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1893, until January 28, 1907, when he resigned, having been elected Senator; chairman, Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Interior (Fifty-fourth through Fifty-seventh Congresses); had been reelected to the Sixtieth Congress, but on January 23, 1907, was elected to the United States Senate as a Republican to fill the vacancy in the term ending March 3, 1907, caused by the resignation of Joseph R. Burton, and on the same day was elected for the full Senate term commencing March 4, 1907, and served from January 29, 1907, to March 3, 1913; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1912; served as President pro tempore of the Senate during the Sixty-second Congress; chairman, Committee on Indian Depredations (1905-11), Committee on Coast Defenses (1911-13), Republican Conference (1924-1929); again elected to the United States Senate for the term commencing March 4, 1915; reelected in 1920 and 1926 and served from March 4, 1915, until his resignation on March 3, 1929, having been elected Vice President of the United States; Republican whip 1915-1924; majority leader 1925-1929; elected Vice President of the United States on the Republican ticket headed by Herbert Hoover in 1928, was inaugurated on March 4, 1929, and served until March 3, 1933; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1932 for Vice President; resumed the practice of law in Washington, D.C., where he died on February 8, 1936; interment in Topeka Cemetery, Topeka, Kans.

American National BiographyDictionary of American Biography; Unrau, William E. Mixed Bloods and Tribal Dissolution: Charles Curtis and the Quest for Indian Identity. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1989; Schlup, Leonard. “Charles Curtis: The Vice-President from Kansas.” Manuscripts 35 (Summer 1983): 183-201.

 Lee's great Great Grandmother Hulda Curtis Parke  who was a Grand Aunt  to the Vice President Charles Curtis .  
She was born in  1805 and died in 1887 in Idaho.