History Podcasts

Curtis CS-1 - History

Curtis CS-1 - History


Manufacturer: Curtiss

Type: Seaplane

Power Plant: Wright T-3 540HP

Wingspan: 56ft

Range: 965mi

Length: 41ft 7inch

Ceiling: 5,240ft

Max Speed: 101MPH

Weight: 9,335lbs (gross)

Who Was Charles Curtis, the First Vice President of Color?

Next week, when she takes the oath of office, Senator Kamala Harris will make history as the first woman, first African American, and first person of South Asian heritage to become vice president of the United States. But she won’t be the first person of color in the office. That honor belongs to Charles Curtis, an enrolled member of the Kaw Nation who served as President Herbert Hoover’s veep for his entire first term from 1929 to 1933. Prejudice against Native Americans was widespread and intense at the time, but Curtis’s ascent to the office speaks to his skillful navigation of the political system. His rise also tells a broader story of how prominent Native Americans viewed how their communities should assimilate within a predominately white society and government. The policies Curtis pursued in Congress and then as vice president, specifically those on Native issues, cloud his legacy today despite his groundbreaking achievements.

Curtis was born in 1860 to a white father from a wealthy Topeka family and a mother who was one quarter Kaw (a tribe also known as Kanza or Kansa). When he was young, Curtis’ mother died, and his father fought in the Civil War for the United States. Growing up, he spent time living with both his sets of grandparents and for eight years, he lived on the Kaw reservation. Curtis grew up speaking Kanza and French before he learned English.

Mark Brooks, site administrator for the Kansas Historical Society’s Kaw Mission site, says Curtis was known for his personal charisma.

“He had a knack for conversation,” Brooks says. “He was just a very likeable person even early on when he was just a young boy in Topeka.”

In 1873, the federal government forced the Kaw south to Indian Territory, which would later become Oklahoma. The adolescent Curtis wanted to move with his community, but, according to his Senate biography, his Kaw grandmother talked him into staying with his paternal grandparents and continuing his education.

“I took her splendid advice and the next morning as the wagons pulled out for the south, bound for Indian Territory, I mounted my pony and with my belongings in a flour sack, returned to Topeka and school,” Curtis later recalled, in a flourish of self-mythologizing. “No man or boy ever received better advice, it was the turning point in my life.”

Charles Curtis (left) sits with Herbert Hoover. (Library of Congress)

Curtis gained some fame as a talented horse rider, known on the circuit as “Indian Charlie.” But his grandparents on both sides encouraged him to pursue a professional career, and he became a lawyer and then a politician. Contemporary accounts cite his personal charm and willingness to work hard served him well in politics. Kansas politician and newspaper editor William Allen White described him carrying books with the names of Republicans in each Kansas township, mumbling the names “like a pious worshiper out of a prayer book” so that he could greet each of them by name and ask about their family.

Despite the racist treatment of the Kaw by white Kansans—which included land theft and murder—many whites were obviously willing to vote for Curtis.

“The one thing that might have lightened the persecution of Curtis was that he was half white,” Brooks says. “He’s light-complected, he’s not dark-skinned like a lot of Kanza. His personality wins people over—unfortunately, racists can like a person of color and still be a racist, and I think that’s kind of what happened with Charlie. He was just a popular kid.”

Curtis rose within the Republican Party that dominated Kansas and became a congressman, then senator, and eventually Senate majority leader. In office, he was a loyal Republican and an advocate for women’s suffrage and child labor laws.

Throughout his time in Congress, Curtis also consistently pushed for policies that many Native Americans today say were a disaster for their nations. He favored the Dawes Act of 1887, passed a few years before he entered Congress, which allowed the federal government to divide tribal lands into individual plots, which eventually led to the selling of their land to the public. And in 1898, as a member of the Committee on Indian Affairs, he drafted what became known as the Curtis Act, extending the Dawes Act’s provisions to the so-called “Five Civilized Tribes” of Oklahoma.

“[The Curtis Act] enabled the dissolution of many tribal governments in Oklahoma on the path to Oklahoma becoming a state,” says Donald Grinde, a historian at the University at Buffalo who has Yamasse heritage. “And of course, that [opened up] tribal land in Oklahoma to white settlers, sooners.”

Curtis also supported Native American boarding schools, in which children were taken from their families and denied access to their own languages and cultures. Abuse was rampant. Grinde cites the schools as a factor in the population decline of Native Americans between 1870 and the 1930s.

“You tell mothers, ‘OK, you’re going to give birth to a child, but at 5 they’re going to be taken from you,’” Grinede says. “Lots of Indian women chose not to have children.”

Historian Jeanne Eder Rhodes, a retired professor at the University of Alaska and enrolled member of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes, says land division under the Dawes and Curtis Acts ultimately “destroyed everything” for many Native American tribes. At the time, however, Curtis’ positions were far from unique among Native Americans. While many were dead set against land division and other policies pushed by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, others believed that tribes must assimilate into white American society and adopt norms like individual land ownership.

“At the turn of the century when he’s working there are very prominent Indian scholars and writers and professional Indian people who are all talking about these issues,” Rhodes says. “Some of them are opposed to the idea, some of them are opposed to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, some of them are working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.”

She said Curtis, like other Native American assimilationists, was concerned with issues like the education and health of Native American people, who were already suffering immensely in a pre-Dawes Act United States. And, she said, if Curtis hadn’t supported assimilation, he would never have gotten far in the era’s white-dominated politics.

“What do you do when you’re in a situation like Curtis?” Rhodes says. “He’s proud of his heritage and yet he wants to be in a position where he can do something to support Native issues. I think he tried his best and I think he regretted, in the end, being assimilationist.”

As Curtis approached his late 60s, already having achieved so much, he had one more rung to climb on the political ladder. In 1927, when Republican President Calvin Coolidge announced that he would not run for another term, he saw his chance to run for President the following year.

His plan was to run a behind-the-scenes campaign, seeking support from delegates who he hoped would see him as a compromise candidate if they couldn’t come together behind one of the frontrunners. Unfortunately for him, that scenario didn’t pan out Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover won on the first ballot.

By this time, there was already bad blood between Curtis and Hoover. The senator had bristled at Hoover’s choice in 1918 to campaign for Democratic candidates and tried to stop then-President Warren G. Harding from appointing him to his cabinet, which he did anyway in 1921. Seven years later, the Republican Party saw putting the two together on their ticket as the solution to a serious problem: Hoover was tremendously unpopular with farmers. Curtis, Kansas’ beloved veteran senator, offered the perfect choice to balance out the Commerce Secretary.

Charles Curtis (left) with the 13-tribe United States Indian Band at the U.S. Capitol. (Library of Congress)

But what about his race? Grinde says Republican Party leaders and voters would have been aware of Curtis’ Kaw identity.

“They recognized that he was one-eighth Indian, but he had served the interests of white people for a long, long time,” Grinde says.

He also notes that the relationship of white Americans of the time with Native American identity was complicated. For some white people with no cultural links to Native nations, it might be a point of pride to claim that their high cheekbones marked them as descendants of an “American Indian princess.”

Despite his assimilationist politics, throughout his career Curtis honored his Kaw heritage. He had an Indian jazz band play at the 1928 inauguration and decorated the vice presidential office with Native American artifacts. And, even if many Native American people were unhappy with the land allotment plans he had championed, many Kaw were proud of him. When he was chosen for the vice presidential slot on the Republican ticket, Kaw communities in Oklahoma declared “Curtis Day,” and some of his Kaw relations attended the inauguration.

After all he had achieved to reach the vice presidency, Curtis’ time in office was anticlimactic. Hoover remained suspicious of his former rival and, despite Curtis’ enormous expertise in the workings of Congress, kept him away from policy. Washington insiders joked that the vice president could only get into the White House if he bought a ticket for the tour. The best-known event of his term involved a dispute over social protocol between Curtis’ sister, Dolly, and Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice. Dolly acted as Curtis’s hostess since his wife had died before he became vice president, and asserted that this gave her the right to be seated before the wives of congressmen and diplomats at formal dinners. Alice bristled over what she characterized as the questionable “propriety of designating any one not a wife to hold the rank of one.” And, aside from personal squabbles, the onset of the Great Depression made the White House a difficult place to be. In 1932 the Hoover-Curtis ticket lost in a landslide defeat to New York Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Speaker of the House John Nance Garner.

And yet, Brooks says, Curtis did not lose his taste for politics. After his defeat he chose to stay in Washington as a lawyer rather than go home to Topeka. When he died of a heart attack in 1936, he was still living in the capital.

“That had become who he was,” Brooks says.

About Livia Gershon

Livia Gershon is a freelance journalist based in New Hampshire. She has written for JSTOR Daily, the Daily Beast, the Boston Globe, HuffPost, and Vice, among others.


1990s Edit

During the summer of 1994, Curtis Wilbur participated in RIMPAC '94, a major multi-national exercise involving more than thirty ships as well as numerous submarines and air assets, both carrier- and land-based. During this exercise, she performed duties as Force Air Defense Coordinator. Also that summer, the Board of Inspection and Survey conducted Final Contract Trials to assess the material status of the ship. Curtis Wilbur became the first ship of the class, and only the second ship ever to complete the examination with zero mission degrading deficiencies.

In October 1994, Curtis Wilbur became the first Aegis-equipped ship to integrate women into the crew.

Curtis Wilbur departed on her first Western Pacific Deployment on 31 July 1995, transiting the Pacific and heading to the Persian Gulf. While deployed with the United States Naval Forces Central Command, she supported Operations Southern Watch and Vigilant Sentinel. During her 100 days in theater, she served as Air Warfare Commander, Surface Warfare Commander, Undersea Warfare Commander, and Strike Warfare Commander. Curtis Wilbur also served as a member of the United States Fifth Fleet Expeditionary Task Force supporting United Nations sanctions against Iraq.

In September 1996, Curtis Wilbur became part of the United States Seventh Fleet, shifting homeports from San Diego to Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan. Upon arrival in Japan, she successfully completed Tailored Ship's Training Availability II and III and was the first ship ever to validate the Final Evaluation Period. On 15 February 1997, she deployed with the Independence Battle Group and participated in exercises Tandem Thrust '97 and Cobra Gold. Curtis Wilbur served as the Air Warfare Commander during this deployment.

Throughout the remainder of 1997, Curtis Wilbur participated in numerous Seventh Fleet exercises, including Javelin Maker, Missilex 97-4, Aswex 97-6JA, Harmex 97-2, Annualex 09G, and Comptuex. For her "contributions to the fleet", Curtis Wilbur was selected as the Destroyer Squadron Fifteen Battle Efficiency Winner for 1997.

In January 1998, Curtis Wilbur participated in Sharem 108-1 before deploying again, on short notice, to the South Pacific. During this deployment, Curtis Wilbur visited ports in Singapore, Australia, Guam, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan. She also participated in Merlion '98 and the Shimoda Black Ship Festival.

In June 1998 Curtis Wilbur commenced her second Selected Restricted Availability (SRA) in Yokosuka. This nine-week shipyard period brought with it many new upgrades, including JTIDS (Link 16), JMCIS 98, INMARSAT B, and numerous other Engineering and Combat System upgrades, making her the most capable destroyer in Seventh Fleet.

Upon completion of SRA and sea trials in August 1998, in addition to beginning the training cycle, Curtis Wilbur deployed for the joint and combined Exercise FOAL Eagle ‘98 with the Republic of Korea Navy and completed a successful Cruise Missile Tactical Qualification and Naval Surface Fire Support qualification. During the training cycle the ship certified the Main Space Fire Drill for ECERT at TSTA II and had a near flawless performance during ECERT. After completing her second complete training cycle while forward deployed, Curtis Wilbur participated in Sharem 127 with the Korean Navy and deployed in March 1999 with the Kitty Hawk Battle Group.

After completing Tandem Thrust ’99, an annual multi-national training exercise, Curtis Wilbur received immediate tasking to proceed at best speed en route to the Persian Gulf. Steaming in company with Kitty Hawk and Chancellorsville, Curtis Wilbur conducted a no-notice high speed transit and arrived in the Persian Gulf on 18 April 1999. Proceeding directly to the Northern Persian Gulf, Curtis Wilbur commenced operations in support of Operation Southern Watch enforcing the Southern No-Fly Zone over Iraq and supporting United Nations Sanctions against Iraq by conducting Maritime Interception Operations (MIO) as a member of the Fifth Fleet. Curtis Wilbur also participated in two major exercises while on her second Persian Gulf deployment: Nautical Swimmer ’99, a combined exercise with the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, and Sharem 128, an undersea warfare exercise in the North Arabian Sea. Following port visits to Bunbury, Australia and Pattaya, Thailand, Curtis Wilbur returned to Yokosuka, Japan on 25 August 1999.

2000s Edit

On 1 October 2001, Curtis Wilbur again departed Yokosuka on another deployment. Assigned to the Kitty Hawk Strike Group, she conducted operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in the Persian Gulf. After a port visit to Phuket, Thailand, Curtis Wilbur ' s first port visit in ten months, from 13–15 December, the ship returned to Yokosuka on 23 December 2001.

In early February 2002, Curtis Wilbur, along with the landing helicopter dock Essex, cruisers Cowpens, Chancellorsville, destroyers O'Brien, Cushing, John S. McCain, frigates Vandegrift, Gary, and supply vessel John Ericsson along with the Japanese Sagami participated in Missilex '02, an anti-ship missile defense training evolution. The Missilex took place on 7 and 8 February, in a training area off the island of Okinawa, with all the ships participating except John Ericsson and Sagami, which had conducted replenishments at sea with several ships earlier in the exercise.

On June 30, 2007, Curtis Wilbur collided with a Russian Udaloy-class destroyer while docking in Vladivostok, Russia, sustaining minor damage. [2]

In March 2011, in company with the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, the ship was deployed off northeastern Honshu, Japan to assist with relief efforts after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. [3] [4] During that time, the ship may have been exposed to leaking radiation from the Fukushima I nuclear accidents. [5]

In January 2016, Curtis Wilbur sailed within 12 nautical miles (22 km 14 mi) of the disputed Triton Island in the South China Sea [6] as part a planned series of Freedom of navigation operations (also referred to as FONOPs). [7]

On 22 October 2018, she transited the Taiwan Strait along with USS Antietam (CG-54) . [8]


The Curtis Institute of Music opened on October 13, 1924. It fulfilled the fondest dream of Mary Louise Curtis Bok, the only child of Philadelphia-based Louisa Knapp and Cyrus H. K. Curtis, whose Curtis Publishing Company produced two of the most popular magazines in America: the Saturday Evening Post and the Ladies' Home Journal.

It was Mrs. Bok's work at the Settlement Music School in South Philadelphia with culturally and financially deprived children, many of whom were gifted enough for professional careers, that convinced her of the need to organize a music conservatory with rigorous standards of teaching and performance to train the next generation of musical artists. With artistic guidance from conductor Leopold Stokowski and the renowned pianist Josef Hofmann, Mrs. Bok assembled a faculty that would attract the most promising students, and developed a philosophy ensuring that these exceptionally gifted young musicians would receive training to prepare them for careers as performing artists on the highest professional level.

Curtis’s rare tuition-free policy was established in 1928 and to this day provides merit-based, full-tuition scholarships for all Curtis students. Students continue to be accepted for study at Curtis solely on the basis of their artistic talent and promise.

In the school's early years, Leopold Stokowski predicted that Curtis “will become the most important musical institution of our country, perhaps of the world.” That sentiment was echoed nearly 70 years later by cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, who said, “Curtis is unique, not only in the United States, but in the whole world.”

Since its founding, Curtis alumni have gone on to make history as soloists, composers, conductors, orchestral players, and chamber musicians. Curtis graduates have received Pulitzer Prizes, Guggenheim Fellowships, and Avery Fisher Awards and are in the front rank of soloists and conductors. They are members of the world’s leading orchestras, including principals in every major American orchestra. They have sung with La Scala, Covent Garden, the Vienna Staatsoper, and the San Francisco Opera, among others, and more than sixty have sung at the Metropolitan Opera.



Edmund Curtis

Edmund Curtis enlisted into Lieut. Col. Worthy L. Churchill’s 164th N.Y. Militia.  Date of enlistment was Aug 29, 1814.  Edmund served as a Private under Captain Isaac Wilson’s Company of New York Volunteer Militia Infantry.  Edmund is listed as missing lost in action, on 17 Sept 1814, near Ft. Erie.

[From muster roll and pay voucher records National Archives of Veterans]

On September 17 a party of a thousand militia and six hundred regulars, concealed by a heavy afternoon rain, rushed two British positions, spiked some guns, and, after a sharp battle in the trenches, returned to the fort.  Over five hundred men fell on both sides. [”The War of 1812,” by Harry L. Coles pg. 162]

THE BRITISH CAMP before Fort Erie, September 17. 1814

Tiger Dunlop, the British army surgeon, is at dinner, well behind the lines, when the sound of gunfire interrupts his meal.  Two American columns have left the safety of the fort and are attacking the British batteries two miles in front of the main camp.  Jacob Brown, back on the Canadian side, is making one last attempt to break Gordon Drummond’s siege of the American encampment.

Dunlop rushes out without waiting for orders.  By the time he reaches the forward trenches with the other officers, the skirmish is all but over.  He sees the Indians bounding forward, yelling and flinging their tomahawks.  He comes upon American corpses, their skulls cleft to the eyes by the throwing hatchets.  He searches the battlefield for wounded men and comes upon one of his bandsmen carrying in a blanket a mortally wounded American officer, gulping water from a canteen.  Dunlop proposes to dress his wounds, but the officer refuses.

“Doctor,” he gasps, “it’s all in vain, my wound is mortal and no human skill can help me - leave me here with a canteen of water and save yourself. ”

Dunlop takes him back to a hut when he returns from his medical duties, the American is dead.  Dunlop asks his identity and is told he is Jacob Brown’s confidant and David Bates Douglass’s friend, Colonel Eleazer Wood, the engineer.

Dusk is falling as the Americans regain the shelter of their fort and the British return to their camp.  Two British batteries have been damaged, at appalling loss.  Brown counts 511 casualties, Drummond 565.  Both sides claim victory, each exaggerating the other’s strengths and losses.  Neither will admit it, but the war on the Niagara frontier has again reached a stalemate.

[“Flames Across the Border” The Canadian - American Tragedy 1813

1814 by Pierre Berton pgs. 356 & 357. ]


                My father, Joseph, and my mother, Delcina, grew up together in Springville Utah as n eighbors.  Joseph was working the mines in Eureka when they were married in 1873.  My father was twenty and my mother eighteen years of age.  They lived in Springville six years after their marriage, until they left for Orangeville in 1880.  They had three children while living in Springville.  When they left for Orangeville, sister Maggie,  was six years old, and sister Tura,  four years old.  The third child, Harriet , lived only seven months, they buried her in the Springville Cemetery in 1879.  Aunt Martha Miles was living in Orangeville, and my father wanted to live near his sister, and so in 1880 they left for Orangeville.

            Grandfather Simmons, dug up some trees for my dad to take with him to Orangeville, and it proved too much for him.  He died of a heart attack during the night.

            My family moved to Orangeville in a covered wagon.  My mother was expecting me, and before they could reach their destination, they had to stop at a gristmill and find a midwife to deliver the baby.  The baby was delivered in the covered wagon at the mill.  They named me Emma Cecilia, after my grandmother, Emma Daley.  Mr. Huntington, the man who ran the grist mill and saw mill, used to call me Gristy and Milly, because I had the mill as my birth place.  I think that the town Huntington, and the Canyon Huntington, was named after this man.

While living in Orangeville, we had 180 acres and raised hay, grain, pigs, chickens and cows.  While living on this farm, my father would haul his oats, grain, and hay, to the railroad workers that were putting the railroad through to Salt Lake.  We moved from Orangeville, to Castle Dale, and my brother Frank, and brother Dode, were born there – Frank in 1883 and Dode in 1886.

From Castle Dale, we moved to Woodside, and lived in a log cabin with three rooms.  The cabin had been started by another party, but was unfinished.  My father hired two or three men to finish the cabin, so we could move in.  We lived in someone's house while we waited for it to be finished.  Sister Maggie was fourteen, Tura twelve, I was eight, Frank five, and Joseph two years, when we moved to Woodside, in 1888.  Soon after we moved in, mother took the train to Springville, where her mother, Emma Daley, was living, to have our sister Delcena.  She only lived to be five years of age, as she died with diphtheria, and was buried at Woodside in 1893.  In 1891 the twins were born, Gertrude and Guy.  Gertrude only lived four days, because of the midwife giving the baby the wrong medicine.  She was buried along side Delcena, at Woodside.

While living at Woodside, my father made his living by hauling with his team.  He hauled miners and prospectors to their mines.  He would locate mines, and did a little prospecting himself.  All of us children attended very little school.  Our mother taught us our education.  I was eleven years old when brother Guy was born.  I ,also at this age, developed fainting spells and had them frequently until I was fifteen.

Aunt Mary Miller, and her family of seven or eight children, along with husband, Scott Miller, moved to Woodside to be with us.  Uncle Scott was track walker for the railroad.

There were about six families scattered up and down the river that made up the community.  Besides the six houses, there was but a railroad station, and hotel owned by the railroad.  After the railroad moved their stop to Green River, we used the hotel for our school dances, and as a school when we could get a teacher.

      Later Aunt Mary, and Uncle Scott, and family, moved away from Woodside to Castle Gate for five or six years while we remained at Woodside.  They opened a boarding house there.  They then returned to Woodside and remained there until their death.  

We were living at Grassy Trail at the time.  Grandmother, Emeline Buchanan Curtis, lived with Aunt Mary from the time she left grandfather, Simmons, until she died at Woodside in 1899.  Aunt Mary and Uncle Scott are buried ,along with grandmother, at Woodside Cemetery.

Aunt Martha and William Miles took part of their family and emigrated to Idaho around the year 1897.  Uncle William Miles died on the way and Aunt Martha never returned to Utah.

In about 1893, while brother Guy was a baby, the family moved to Grassy trail.  We lived in a dug-out lined with lumber and a wood floor.  It was north of the tracks up on a hill.  We raised everything there,  but grain.

During the summer, mother and I, would load a wagon with vegetables, and take them up to the mining camps at Castle Gate coal camps.  My Aunt Miller ran a boarding house at Castle Gate, and so we would deliver vegetables to her.  We made this trip every two weeks.  It would take us all day to go one way, and then we stayed with Aunt Mary, and start for home the next day.  We would get sacks from Aunt Mary, and stop at the miner’s dump, and gather the wool clothes, that the miners discarded, and take them home, and put them in sulpher water to sterilize them.  After washing them, mother would cut them into squares for quilts, and send some to her mother, in Springville, to have them made into rugs for our house.  Some of the clothes she would give to a poor family to wear.

While living at Grassy Trail, my father received a letter from Aunt Nancy Hansen, asking him to come after her in Montrose, Colorado as she was leaving her husband of many years.  She had raised a family of eight children around Castle Dale, and then they had moved to Colorado.  My father, Joseph, went after them, and she returned to Castle Dale to live with her children.  The children were still fairly young.  Aunt Nancy married twice more, once to a man in Ferron, and then to a man of Mr. Snow , whom she had met in Salt Lake, when she took her children there to live.  She lived there until her death and is buried in Salt Lake.  I believe she was the only one of Simmons children to return to the Mormon faith.

Uncle Harmon was to marry twice more after his first marriage.  He had six children by his first wife, and three children by his third marriage.  He died while living in Wellington in 1949, and is buried in Price, Utah.

Our family lived at Grassy Trail about three years, and then moved to Colton.  This I believe was around the year 1896.  When the family moved to Colton, we ran a restaurant for Cad Thomas.  Our customers were mostly railroad workers and miners.  While running Cad’s restaurant, sister Maggie married John Forrester in Price, Utah in about 1897.  When Cad wanted her restaurant back , the folks bought a house and built on it, and turned it into a restaurant.  Shortly after moving into our place of business, sister Tura married Harry Howard in 1899 at Provo, Utah.  Maggie had her first child, Johnnie, in Colton, in 1898.  In 1900, her second child, Vina was born.  Tura was blessed with a child the same time.  She named her Madge.  As soon as Madge was delivered, the doctor sent Tura to Salt Lake to have an  Operation.  The babe remained at Colton with me.  While Tura was in the hospital, her husband, Harry met with misfortune and died.  I believe he was buried in Salt Lake.  My mother, Delcina raised Madge while she was small, while Tura earned a living.

      February 24, 1900, I was married to Frank Jones.  We left to live in Thistle Junction, right after our marriage.  Maggie moved to Price with her family, and my parents took their stock and moved into the timber above Colton.  Tura went to cook at Soldier Summit.  While there she met a man by the name of Will Watson, and later married him.  There marriage lasted three years.

In 1902 Frank and I moved to Helper.  Maggie had gone to Colorado.  She had her third and last child, Joseph while living there.  Tura was with Maggie, in Colorado, and Madge was living with mother.

In October of 1902 my brother, Frank, was working at a sheep camp above Colton in the hills.  He developed pneumonia and died at the age of 19.  We buried him at Spring Glen.

While Frank and I were living at Helper, we had two of our children, Flora and Frank.  Frank worked for them as a section hand, and numerous other jobs.  My next home was to be Desert Lake, against my will.  My father and husband decided on farming, and I wanted Frank to remain with the railroad.

Maggie returned to Utah from Colorado.  She lived in Price, until her children grew up and married.  Maggie and John then moved to California to be with Vina, and spent the rest of their lives there.

Sister Tura met William White, in Cleveland, at a mining camp where she was cooking.  They were married three years, and then parted.  She never married again.  Through the years, Maggie cared for Madge, until Madge married.  Tura and Madge later went to California, and they both remained there the rest of their lives.

While living at Desert Lake, my father, and my two brothers, Dode and Guy, came to live with us.  Mother was sick at Maggie’s with rheumatism.  We had built a dug-out house, and lived in it about three years.  Mother came to live at Desert Lake from Maggie's, a very sick person.  She lived in the dug-out, with all of us, from the fall of 1908, and died in January of 1909.  We buried her at Desert Lake.  My husband, Frank, made the coffin and headstone for my dear mother.

Frank built us a one room house, across the field, on a hill, and we moved in.  Dad, and the two boys, stayed in the dug-out.

In March of 1912, Dode married Estella Olsen, and a month later, Guy married Ellowease Bradley.  The four lived there, along with dad, in the dug-out.  The boys with their wives later moved to Cedar Mountain.  Dad moved there for a while, but traveled between Maggie’s place, and our place, until he died in 1925.  He is buried in Desert Lake along side of mother.

Brother Dode and Estella had nine children.  They lived mostly in Emery County, Utah.  They eventually parted, but are both buried in Cleveland Cemetery.

Frank and I lived at Desert Lake, and vicinity, from 1907 to 1919.  We had Fred, Margaret, Centura, and Jackie during our stay in Emery County.  In 1919, we left there to go to Clear Creek to live.  While there in 1923, Jackie died, and we buried him at Scofield.  Frank made his headstone.  In 1924 our last child, Emma, was born.  In 1925, son Frank, with his model T car, and Fred, Margaret, Centura, husband, Frank, and Vina left for California to live.  Daughter, Flora and I, with little Katherine, and little Emma, took the train to California to join them.  California was to become our new home.

This long and historical story, is of the lives of Joe and Delcina Curtis, and their children-told to me by my mother, Emma Curtis Jones.


            In October 2002, I received a letter from Ruth Payne Palmer, to see if I was related to Ruth Franklin Curtis.  She had, evidently, located my name on some of the files in the Family History Library.  She explained, that her father, Vearle Payne and her Aunt Lucinda Payne Merrill had spent many years researching the Franklin line. Someone had connected Ruth to parents John Franklin and Abigail Fuller.  They questioned this connection, because when John Franklin wrote his will, he did not include any daughter named Ruth.  Since Ruth Palmer lived in the southern part of Utah, and I was close to the Salt Lake Family History Library, I told her that I would try to check some records at the library to see what I could find.  The first book I looked at was Pioneers and Patriot Families of Bradford Co.Pa. (FHL#974.857 D2h) The following is recorded on page 182: “Colonel Franklin married his second wife Abigail, daughter of Capt. Stephen Fuller and widow of Capt. James Bidlack, slain at Wyoming, July 3 1778.  By this marriage he had no children, but was ever a father to the two sons and two daughters left by Captain Bidlack.” It was obvious that Vearle and Lucinda had cause to be concerned about the connection.  Ruth sent me some of the material they had collected over the years. In a letter Lucinda wrote to Vearle, she mentions that her mother thought Ruth had brothers David and John and that Ruth and Enos’ twin sons, David Avery Curtis and John White Curtis, could have been named after these brothers.  As I searched the temple records I did indeed find brothers David and John. On the 31 December 1878 John White Curtis, a son of Enos and Ruth Franklin Curtis, as well as other family members, did baptisms in the St. George Temple. (St. George Temple Baptisms Bk I p.11-12 FHL#170848) John White Curtis was the proxy for John Franklin and David Franklin.   He listed his relationship to them as a “nephew”.  He was also proxy for his Grand Father Franklin.  His wife, Almira Starr Curtis was the proxy for Grand Mother in Law Franklin.  These were the only Franklins listed in the baptism record.  On Jan 6 1882, John White Curtis and his sister Ursula Curtis Gifford did the sealing for their Grand Father and Grand Mother Franklin. (St. George Sealings of Couples Book C p.386 FHL#170597) It is obvious that Ruth Franklin Curtis’ own children did not know their Franklin grandparents. Ruth died on the 6 May 1848 ,near Council Bluffs, Iowa.  It was a difficult time of survival. Because they had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, they were persecuted wherever they lived.   Ruth had raised fourteen children under these harrowing conditions. It is to her credit that her family moved on to Utah after her death, where they lived faithfully to their belief in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  On Jan 4, 1882, the Curtis family sealed all fourteen children to their parents Enos and Ruth.  Eight of them had died. But the remaining six met together to participate in this sealing. (St. George Sealings of Children to Parents Bk B p.262 FHL#170583) An excellent history of the Enos Curtis and Ruth Franklin family was written by Eunice Curtis Record. (FHL#929.273 C942r)

            I recognized this was going to involve some careful research so I enlisted the help of my brother, Leonard Driggs and my sister, Bonnie Thomas. We began with the only original record left by Ruth Franklin Curtis.  It was her own endowment record in the Nauvoo Temple dated 1 Jan 1846.  She gave her birth as 14 Nov.1790 in Sterling, Windham, Connecticut.  We checked the Patriarchal Blessing index hoping to find her parents, but no blessing could be located.  There was no membership record of her in any ward or branch of the church. The first child of Enos and Ruth to be given a double name was Simmons Philander.  So hoping this would be significant, we watched for the surname Simmons. Some of the children of Enos and Ruth lived in Springville, Utah.  So the membership records for the Springville Ward were checked. (FHL#26458) The children, included in the record, listed their birthplaces as follows:  Simmons Philander  Jackson, Tioga, PA.  Ezra H. Jackson, Tioga, PA.  David Avery Sullivan, Tioga, PA. John W. Rutland, Tioga, Pa. So we started our search in Tioga Co. PA.

            In the late 1700rd the area which is now Tioga Co began to be settled.  In 1792 a road was cut that extended from Northumberland Co. Pa to Bath, New York.  Lycoming Co. Pa. was formed from Northumberland in 1796.  At that time there were only about 40-50 people living in the area that was to become Tioga Co.  By 1804 Tioga Co. was organized from Lycoming Co. The population of the new county included 130 families, about 800 people.   Jackson Township was formed in 1815. Sullivan Township was taken from Jackson in 1816, and Rutland Township was formed from Sullivan and Jackson in 1828.  (Old Tioga-90 years of Existence  FHL#974.856 H2r)

            The 1810 Tioga Co. census lists only one Franklin.  It is John, in Delmar Township.  He gives his age between 16 and 26.  One female under 10 is the only other one listed with him.  This John may have been the first Franklin to settle there. However, he is not likely the same John that is listed in the 1820 census. That John was between 26-45 years old.  There was a male child under 10, 2 males 10-16, 3 females under 10, and 1 female 26-45. There is no female 10-16 to account for the daughter listed in the 1810 census.  There are no males under 10 in the 1810 census to account for the 2 males 10-16 in the 1820 census. There is only one other Franklin in the1820 Tioga Census. It was David Franklin Jr. It is significant that Jr. was included after his name because it indicates his father was also named David.   Both John and David Jr. were listed on the same page in Jackson Township.  David Jr. was 26-45 years old. There were 2 males under 10, 2 females under 10, 1 female 10-16 and 1 female 26-45.

            Enos Curtis is not in the 1810 or 1820 census in Pennsylvania.   He does appears on the 1829 tax list of Rutland.  He is the only Curtis there. (History of Tioga Co Pa. Pg.335 FHL#974.856 H2t) He is listed in the 1830 census in Rutland Township, Tioga Co. And again he is the only Curtis there. This seems to indicate that Enos moved there because of the Franklin family. 

            As we searched the records in Tioga County we located a burial record for a Mary Cummings, age 82, who died of old age on 18 Aug 1852. Her birthplace was listed as “Rhode Island.” Her husband was Jacob Cummings or Comins and her parents were David Franklin and Hannah Simmons.  She was buried in Jackson Township near Kegis Mill. (Tioga Co. Vital Records FHL#974.856 V2L p.30) We then looked for Jacob Cummings on the Pedigree Resource File on the internet.  We found Lois Lester had submitted information on the family.  We contacted her in Erie, Kansas.  She sent us information that was very valuable.  She had access to Jacob Cummings’ pension records from the Revolutionary War.  He joined as a soldier when he was only about 15 years old.  He lived long enough to enjoy some of the  benefits for veterans by a law passed in Congress in 1832. Later, after he died in 1844, his wife applied for a pension offered to widows. Those who were close to him gave depositions to prove his service and that she was in fact married to Jacob Cummings. Among those who were summoned to testify was David Franklin, a brother to Mary. When he made his deposition on 5 June 1851 he was 󈬱 years of age on the 23d day of April last.” He was then living in Monroe Township, Ashtabula Co. Ohio. He testified that Jacob and Mary were married at Coventry [Rhode Island] “when Mary and myself were both residing at my father’s house. I know that at the time I was about seven years of age.”  Another deposition was solicited on 28 Oct 1852 from Caleb Weaver, who was living in Chautauqua, Co. New York. He stated “he was well acquainted with Jacob Cummings before and at the time of his marriage,” having married Mary’s sister, Hannah Franklin 7 Apr 1793.” Caleb was not present at the ceremony but “thinks and believes it took place about one year before his own marriage.”   Caleb gave the age of his wife, Hannah, at the time of their marriage, as nineteen. That means she was born in 1774. Mary Franklin, daughter of David Franklin, of Coventry, Rhode Island,  was born about 1772 according to the Cummings record. She was “aged 73 years last June” on 12 May 1846.  The date of her marriage to Jacob Cummings or Comins was not satisfactorily established by the United States Pension Bureau owing to a conflict of statements among persons living at the time.  Mary (Franklin) Comins herself deposed in old age on 12 May 1846 that “she was published in Voluntown, Connecticut, but married in Coventry, Rhode Island in Sept. 1790.”  A record of Jacob’s residency is included in the pension record.  After the war, in about 1788, Jacob moved from Pittstown, New York to Sterling, Connecticut, which was not formerly established until the year 1794 from the larger community of Voluntown.  By his own statement he lived at Sterling 𔄟 or 8 years.” They also lived in Coventry, R.I., possibly during some of this time.  Then they moved to Pittstown, New York and then to Herkimer Co., New York. In about 1816 they were in Jackson, Tioga, Pennsylvania.  Jacob Cummings died 30 Apr 1844.  All of his known offspring are named in the Revolutionary War pension file. The records of Cummings or Comins family is published in the book The Descendants of John Comins (ca.1668-1751) and his wife Mary, of Woburn and Oxford, Massachusetts and Windham County, Connecticut.  It was written by Abbott Lowell CummingsLois Lester helped him compile the record.  She sent pages copied from the book.  It was later learned that the book was also located in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah (#929.273C735ca)

             It seems apparent that David Sr. and Hannah Simmons Franklin are the parents to Mary, Hannah, John, David Jr. and Ruth. There was a Scituate, R.I. census taken in 1774.  For David’s family there is 1 male over 16, 1 male under 16, 1 female over 16 and 2 females under 16. The vital records for Scituate R.I. lists the children of Uriah and Abigail Franklin.  They were all born in Scituate, Providence, Rhode Island and included David, born 8 June1749, Uriah Jr., born 14 July 1751, Reuben, born 15 Oct 1753, Abel, born 17 May 1756, and Joshua, born 28 June 1759. (Scituate Vital Records p.195 FHL#941133)

            This family was involved in many land transactions in Scituate, R.I. as well as in Voluntown, Windham, Connecticut. In fact in these areas the Franklins are all related in some way. When Sterling Township was formed in 1794 from Voluntown, the Franklin’s land fell into this township.  The family  attended church in Coventry, Kent, Rhode Island.  They belonged to a Congregational Church named “The Maple Root Church of Coventry.” (Rhode Island Vital Records 1636-1850 Vol 10:255 FHL#974.5 V2a) The distance from Sterling to Coventry is only about 15 miles. 

            All of Uriah’s sons served in the Revolutionary War except Reuben.   David was listed in Col. Crary’s Regiment, Rhode Island State Troops.  He was a sergeant in Capt. Wilber’s Company.(Rev War Service Records FHL#1486158) Two of the sons, Abel and Joshua, applied for a pension. (Rev. War Pension Records FHL#971017)

            On 17 June 1788 Uriah wrote his will.  It is recorded in the Plainfield Probate District in Connecticut.  The Sterling Probate District did not begin until 1852 so residents of Voluntown or Sterling used the Plainfield District.  Uriah gives his place of residence as Voluntown.  He names his wife, Abigail as well as his four sons, David, Uriah Jr., Abel and Joshua. No daughters are mentioned.  The son Reuben is not included.  It is assumed, that he died as a young child, because he is not included in any of the land transactions either.  Uriah Sr. in his will provided “for my beloved wife, Abigail one third part of all moveables within doors and the west part of the dwelling wherein I now live or dwell on.  Item: I do give to my son David one quarter part of the said remainder of my moveables indoor and without, having receive part of his portion before. Item: I give to my second son Uriah one quarter part of my moveables within doors and without to be equal to my said son above, having received part of his portion before.  Item: I do give to my son Abel the same as is mentioned above to equal with either of them having received part of his portion before. Item: I do give and bequeath to my fourth son Joshua the same proportion of moveables as has been given to my three sons before mentioned /viz/ one quarter of my door moveables. Furthermore I do bequeath and will that said Joshua shall have all that land that is reserved to myself  bearing date June the 16 th 1788 and to pay what is hereafter mentioned to my wife.

Furthermore, I do hereby appoint my son, Joshua, to be my executor of this my last will and testament, and the said son, Joshua, to pay to her, my said wife, during her natural widowhood, yearly, what is before specified.” The will was probated 17 Oct 1791.  (Plainfield, Windham, Connecticut Probate Records Vol 9 p.172 FHL #05444) He died 17 Sept 1791. The date is recorded in the Maple Root Church of Coventry. 

              David was in Coventry, R.I. when the 1790 census was taken. There was one male over 16,(David) three males under 16 (David Jr.,born 1786, John, born about 1782 and one unidentified male). There were  4 females in the family.  The daughter Mary was married in Sept. of 1790 so she was not likely included in the census.  The 4 females would be Hannah Simmons Franklin, the mother, Hannah, born 1774, an unidentified daughter, born about 1788, and Ruth, born 1790.  In 1800, David is in the Sterling, Connecticut census.  David’s age is over 45. There are three females, one over 45,(Hannah, the mother) one 10-16, (the unidentified daughter, born about 1788) and one under 10.(could account for Ruth if the census was taken before her birthday in Nov.)  In the 1790 census there were no other David Franklin’s listed in the entire United States.

             There are two David Franklin’s in the 1810 United States census. They are both in New York, but neither fit the description of David Franklin, born 1749.  It is not known where he died or his wife Hannah.  Some of their family are located in New York and Ohio. Hopefully, as the research continues, more definite information can be added to this family .


Edward Curtis was one of the most prominent figures in the cultural history of Washington state. He is acknowledged as one of the leading American photographers of his time and has produced iconic portraits of many important historical figures such as Chief Joseph, J. P. Morgan, and President Theodore Roosevelt, who was among his most ardent supporters. Best known today for his epic 20-volume book, The North American Indian, Curtis also served as Seattle’s finest commercial and portrait photographer in the early twentieth century. His studio became a nexus for important figures when anyone of prominence visiting Seattle made it a point to be photographed by the famed master. His studio was also the starting ground for several regional photographers who would go on to establish international reputations in their own right. These included Imogen Cunningham, Ella McBride, and Frank Asakichi Kunishige. Asahel Curtis, Edward’s brother also became a noted photographer who concentrated on commercial landscape and documentary photography as well as poetic studies of Mt. Rainier.

Nature and Photography

Edward Sheriff Curtis was born in Wisconsin on February 16, 1868. He was the second son of Ellen Sheriff Curtis and Civil War veteran Johnson Asahel Curtis.

As a result of the war, Johnson Curtis had suffered health problems that limited his ability to work. Unable to exert himself through physical labor, he first moved his family to Minnesota, where he became a preacher. He nurtured Edward’s shared love of nature and encouraged his inquisitive mind. Around this time, Edward became interested in photography and built his own camera by the age of 12.

Edward and his father initially came to Port Orchard in Washington Territory by 1887 in preparation for the arrival of the remaining family members who would join them the following year. Unfortunately for the elder Curtis, he died shortly after his family relocated to Washington, leaving Edward responsible for their support.

First Studios

Edward's interest in photography continued to grow and around 1890 he purchased his first professional camera. Sensing an opportunity for a new profession in this field, he moved his mother and siblings to Seattle and went into partnership with Rasmus Rothi, opening his first professional studio.

In 1892, Edward married Clara Philips whom he had initially met as his caregiver following a work-related accident that had left him debilitated for several months. He ended his unsuccessful partnership with Rothi and that same year began a new association with Thomas Guptil. Curtis & Guptil would soon to become the leading photographic and engraving studio in Seattle.

Curtis’s career coincided with the growing interest in Pictorialism in the United States. Pictorialsm is the name used to describe the artistic use of the camera as opposed to its purely documentary function. His work soon appeared regularly in the important camera journals of the period such as Camera Craft, the West Coast’s leading photography publication. Other contemporaries such as Carl Moon and Emma B. Freeman often included idealized Native American studies for subject matter as well.

Curtis observed the evolving Native American culture first-hand in the Northwest and his first Native American image was purported to be a portrait of Princess Angeline (Kikisoblu), daughter of Chief Seattle (Ts'ial-la-kum), whose name is the derivation for the city of Seattle.

Local interest in pictorial photography began to grow and in 1895 the first Seattle Camera Club was formed. Members of some of the prominent pioneer families such as the Denny’s became involved in the medium and sponsored successful local exhibitions but there are no extant records of Curtis's involvement in these art related organizations or events.

By 1896 Curtis & Guptil had become the pre-eminent photography studio in Seattle, but the partnership dissolved the following year with the latter’s departure. The studio was renamed Edward S. Curtis, Photographer and Photoengraver.

Achievement and Eminence

Within a few years, Curtis was winning national competitions for his photography and his nature-inspired writings began to be published, sometimes illustrated with his own work.

In 1897, Curtis was selected to lead a climbing expedition up Mount Rainier that was sponsored by the Portland, Oregon, group, Mazamas. As one of the first large parties to climb the mountain, his involvement witnessed several experiences that would alter the course of his life. The expedition had included some legendary early climbers such as Philemon Beecher Van Trump and Hazard Stevens. This was also the first recorded tragedy on the mountain when Professor Edgar McClure died on the descent after taking the first accurate measurements of the mountain.

This climb was also important as it marked his first association with Ella McBride, who would later join him in Seattle as his assistant and manager of his studio. McBride later recalled that she, Curtis, and a group of climbers from that expedition formed a core group of concerned citizens who lobbied for the preservation of Rainier until it was made a National Park in 1899.

Although both Curtis brothers were now gaining attention in their field, their relationship soon turned rancorous when Asahel, who had worked as an engraver in the Curtis Studio, traveled to Alaska to cover the Gold Rush in 1898. After Edward published Asahel’s photographs as his own work, the two brothers parted ways. They never reconciled.

Through his mountain climbing activities, Curtis met and befriended George Bird Grinnell an important early environmentalist credited with providing the impetus behind the founding of the National Audubon Society. Through his connections, Curtis was invited to join the 1899 Harriman Expedition to Alaska as official photographer.

Documenting Native American Culture

The following year, Curtis began to travel outside of the state to experience and document Native American culture.

In 1903, he began seeking funding for his documentary project without much success. He recruited the talented photographer Adolph Muhr to manage his studio, allowing him the freedom to travel and develop the series that he had envisioned. Muhr was a technical master and particularly adept in platinum printing, being a source of inspiration to the young Imogen Cunningham in the early years of her career. In June of 1904, the Woman’s Century Club in Seattle sponsored the First Annual Exhibition and Sale of the Industrial and Allied Arts of Washington. Curtis was honored with a solo exhibition of his work at this venue where painting and crafts predominated.

During these years of travel, Curtis photographed sacred dance ceremonies and produced portraits that included the legendary Geronimo. He exhibited his work in New York to increase its visibility, with the intention of locating funding for his book project that was rapidly escalating in cost. With an encouraging letter of recommendation from President Theodore Roosevelt, Curtis finally acquired the financial support he needed from the wealthy railroad magnate, J.P. Morgan.

The first several volumes of the book indicated that the project would be successful and he soon received another endowment from Morgan to proceed with the next volumes.

Gaining Visibility

With growing interest, Curtis put together a group of more than 100 of his finest prints and over the next several years they traveled to different museums across the country. By 1907, Ella McBride had been hired to manage Curtis's studio and with her commanding personality, became an important and dependable assistant. She lived with his family and was entrusted with the operation of his booth at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909.

In 1911 Curtis created a live stage production titled The Indian Picture Opera or Picture Musicales that consisted of him lecturing accompanied by colored lanternslides and music. The show was critically successful and even included performances at Carnegie Hall and the Brooklyn Institute, but the high cost of production negated the original fundraising intention of the event. This multi-media extravaganza led to his first venture into motion pictures. With the assistance of the young Edmund Schwinke and others, the resulting film titled In the Land of the Headhunters (later renamed In the Land of the War Canoes) debuted in 1914.

The film opened first in New York and later at the Moore Theater in Seattle. Although it attained great critical acclaim, it never received the commercial success Curtis had hoped for.

Beginning in February 1912, the Washington State Art Association sponsored a display of photographic art in their downtown galleries. This organization was the first attempt at a public museum in Seattle. Its photography exhibition consisted of works by the leading commercial studios of the period. Besides Curtis, other established locals included Webster & Stevens, Nowell & Rognon, James & Bushnell, and several others.

The highlight of the show was a selection of gravures from The North American Indian, which was purchased for the Association by a local collector. With his estranged brother Asahel serving as the first curator of photographic art for the association, they sponsored a second exhibition the following year in January. This time Curtis exhibited five portraits and two artistic studies “Lunette, The Hopes of Youth” and “Decoration, “Ambitions of Youth.” The works were conceived as mural designs and “evolved by A. S. Muhr.” indicating the importance of their collaboration. Muhr died that same year, leaving a large gap in Curtis’s production. The following year, his major benefactor, J. P. Morgan, also passed away, but fortunately the philanthropist’s son and family continued to offer their patronage.

New Processes, Changing Times

By 1916, Curtis’s studio began production of the “Orotone” or goldtone process. With the images printed on glass backed with a gold metallic finish, the resulting effect attained a unique and beautifully radiant product that had tremendous commercial appeal. Due to the constant financial stress and coupled with Curtis's lengthy excursions, his wife, Clara, divorced him and was awarded ownership of both their home and the studio.

With increasing financial and emotional difficulties, Curtis and his daughter Beth relocated to Los Angeles and opened a new studio in the Biltmore Hotel. Attempting to continue his work with Native American subjects, he soon found that the southwestern reservations were rapidly changing from the encroachment of non-native religious organizations and the natural advancement of progress. Undaunted, he continued his production but with a renewed sensitivity to the heinous treatment that the indigenous culture had endured in California.

By 1923, Curtis began an association with Hollywood film director Cecil B. DeMille who utilized his talents as a cameraman and still photographer. Although the employment offered some financial relief, within five years he was forced to exchange copyright ownership for the North American Indian to J. P. Morgan’s company in order to procure the funding to complete the final three volumes. Besides relinquishing these copyrights, in 1928, he sold the master print and negative for In the Land of the Headhunters to the American Museum of Natural History.

Given the increasing decimation of Indian cultures, Curtis was reinvigorated after discovering that the perceived traditions that he cherished were still relatively intact in Alaska. He completed the necessary material for the final volume of the North American Indian and returned to Seattle en route to Los Angeles. However, his ex-wife's animosities had not subsided and she had him arrested for deferred alimony and child support payments that were later dismissed by the court.

At the beginning of the Great Depression, Curtis finished the final two volumes of The North American Indian published in 1930. Only 272 sets had been printed over the 30 years the project had taken to complete. This was followed by a period of illness and stress related health concerns that subsided slightly when he began to follow a growing interest in gold mining. Although this pursuit was never monetarily rewarding, he kept chasing the idea of financial security that always seemed to elude him.

In 1936, Curtis resumed another employment opportunity with DeMille in Hollywood and began working on his memoirs, which unfortunately, never found a publisher.

He spent his final years surrounded by his daughters in California. Edward Curtis died on October 19, 1952.

Culture and Cultural Questions

In the early 1970s, a revival of interest in Curtis’ work began after a large collection of his printing plates, photographic prints and glass plate negatives were located along with 19 complete sets of The North American Indian. The cache had been stored in Boston, Massachusetts, at the Charles E. Lauriat Company, which had purchased the collection in 1935 from the Morgan Company.

Around the same time, Bill Holm and George Quimby of the Burke Museum at the University of Washington in Seattle located and restored the single extant print of Curtis's 1914 film, In The Land of the Headhunters. In 1972 they added a new score and renamed the movie In The Land of the War Canoes.

Although interest began to increase for Curtis’ groundbreaking work, a series of criticisms also began to surface. Curtis and his work were accused of presenting a false and inaccurate account of Native American culture by using stereotypical conventions and staged scenarios to fit his own interpretations of an implied civilization on the brink of obscurity. In his defense, most artists of Curtis’s period whether in paintings, photography, and even motion pictures, all shared the same romanticized notions of Native Americans that reflected the misinformed consensus of the time, well meaning or otherwise.

Curtis’ genuine concern and admiration for Native Americans was reflected in his personal life as well. In 1924, he assisted in the formation of the Indian Welfare League, which lobbied for the political and social causes of Native Americans contributing to the ensuing Indian Citizen Act (The Snyder Act) giving indigenous people among other things, the right to vote.

There are several important public collections of Edward Curtis's work. The Library of Congress holds more than 2,400 of his original prints and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, has the entire 110 master prints assembled by Curtis for his early traveling exhibition of the North American Indian, begun in 1905. In Seattle, the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections and Manuscripts Division contains a significant amount of Curtis material.

The Rainier Club whose membership included Curtis, also has a small but choice collection of his earlier works. The commercial gallery Flury & Company in Seattle’s Pioneer Square has been dedicated to Curtis’s work since 1981 and is a leading source for collectors and scholars.

Edward Curtis (1868-1952), ca. 1890

Courtesy Smithsonian Insitution Libraries

Edward S. Curtis still life incorporating Native American basketry within the indigenous natural landscape

Princess Angeline (Kikisoblu) (1820-1896), Seattle, 1895

Photo by Edward S. Curtis, Courtesy UW Special Collections (NA1518)

Brochure for Edward Curtis lecture at Christensen's Hall, Seattle, December 2, 1904

Courtesy The Seattle Public Library, Edward S. Curtis scrapbook

Interior, brochure for Edward Curtis lecture at Christensen's Hall, Seattle, December 2, 1904

Courtesy The Seattle Public Library, Edward S. Curtis scrapbook

Portrait of Ella McBride by Edward Curtis, platinum print, ca. 1910

Photo by Edward Curtis, Courtesy Private Collection

Original advertising postcard for an Edward S. Curtis lecture billed "A Picture Talk, with Stereopticon," Seattle, n.d.

Courtesy The Seattle Public Library, Edward S. Curtis scrapbook

Original advertising card depicting "The Bridal Party" from Edward Curtis's film, In The Land of the Land of the Head Hunters, ca. 1914

Courtesy The Seattle Public Library, Edward S. Curtis scrapbook

Edward Curtis studio, 4th Avenue and University Street, Seattle, 1918

Courtesy Margaret Gaia and The Life and Times of a Shadow Catcher by Barbara A. Davis

Reception area, Edward Curtis studio, 4th Avenue and University Street, Seattle, 1918

Courtesy Margaret Gaia and The Life and Times of a Shadow Catcher by Barbara A. Davis

"Lummi Woman," from The North American Indian, Vol. 9 by Edward S. Curtis

Courtesy Northwestern University Library

"Skokomish Baskets" 1912, from The North American Indian, Vol. 9 by Edward S. Curtis


The firm now known as Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP was founded in the 1820s initially as J.L. Graham and J.L. Graham by cousins John and James Lorimer Graham. By 1830, their legal partnership had taken a lease of offices at 143 Fulton Street in New York City, located in today’s downtown Financial District.

The city of New York was establishing itself as an important trading and business center at this time. The legal industry that served it and the laws governing it were themselves developing alongside, as the firm’s early instructions illustrate. For example, James Lorimer Graham wrote the articles of association of the American Exchange Bank, now Bank of New York, which was the first entity formed under the new banking law. Another early client was the Farmer’s Loan and Trust Company, now Citibank.

The founding partners also played a significant role as property developers in Brooklyn, with two intersecting streets in Williamsburg bearing their names today, the eponymous Graham Avenue and Lorimer Street.

In 1838, the firm admitted partner William Curtis Noyes, the son of a state Supreme Court justice, and the name was changed to Graham, Noyes & Wood. William Curtis Noyes would play a critical role in codifying New York State’s laws. Harris D. Colt was made a name partner in early 1897, and was joined later that same year by Severo Mallet-Prevost, a Mexican born, U.S.-educated lawyer. The firm became Curtis, Mallet-Prevost & Colt.

Curtis' founding partners played a significant role in the development of Brooklyn, with two streets bearing their names today, the eponymous Graham Avenue and Lorimer Street.

Curtis was founded in the 1820s initially by cousins John and James Lorimer Graham. By 1830, their legal partnership had taken a lease of offices at 143 Fulton Street.


Spanish-speaking Severo Mallet-Prevost and Cuban-born partner-to-be Henry Mosle forged extensive connections for the firm throughout Latin America. Over the years, Curtis has operated offices in Brazil and Cuba, and the strong link between the firm and Latin America remains today, most evident in the 80-plus fluent Spanish speaking attorneys and thriving Latin American client roster. When Henry Mosle became a name partner in 1925 the firm’s current name was adopted.

The firm established its Washington, D.C. office in 1963 and opened in Paris in 1973. Offices in London, Frankfurt, Mexico City, Houston and Muscat would follow by the close of the twentieth century, and all remain today. Curtis remains the only U.S.-headquartered law firm licensed to practise in the Sultanate of Oman.


In 2008, Curtis established new offices in Almaty, Nur-Sultan, Dubai and Milan, and maintained offices for several years in Istanbul and Ashgabat. The firm formalized its alliance with Argentinian law firm Fernandez Quiroga Ayarragaray & Ocampo in 2011, thereby establishing an office in Buenos Aires.

The current total of 17 offices was reached with the opening of the Beijing and Rome offices in 2014 and the opening of a Geneva office in 2016 and Bogotá in 2020. The firm presently maintains its headquarters in the H. J. Kalikow and Co., Inc. building at 101 Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.

© Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP. All rights reserved.
Attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Growing Up in Kansas

Vice President Charles Curtis and President Herbert Hoover, 1929.

Curtis was born in Topeka in 1860, one year before the Kansas Territory became the 34th state. Around age three, his mother died and his father joined the Union Army to fight in the Civil War. He lived at various times with his non-Native paternal grandparents and his Native maternal grandparents, Louis and Julie Pappan Gonville, who lived on the Kaw reservation in Kansas. As a young boy, he became known for winning races as a horse jockey.

Around 1873, when Louis and Julie were moving with the Kaw Nation to the Indian Territory in the current state of Oklahoma, Curtis planned to go with them. But his grandmother dissuaded him from joining them.

“His grandmother basically just says, ‘You’re bound for more important things,’” says Kent Blansett, a professor of Indigenous studies and history at the University of Kansas who is a Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Shawnee and Potawatomi descendant from the Blanket, Panther and Smith families. Blansett notes that Curtis’ grandmother wasn’t telling Curtis to turn away from his people, but to help his people by taking another path.

Curtis followed his grandmother’s advice and stayed in Topeka, becoming a lawyer and a politician. His Native heritage, something white politicians and journalists often referred to disparagingly, was public knowledge during his entire political career. In 1884, he won an elected seat as the Shawnee County attorney. Eight years later, he won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican.


  • Notes of a Howadji (1851)

  • The Howadji in Syria (1852)

  • Lotus-Eating (1852)

  • Potiphar Papers (1853) (Project Gutenberg text [ permanent dead link ] )

  • The Duty of the American Scholar to Politics and the Times (1856)

  • Prue and I (1856) (Project Gutenberg text [ permanent dead link ] )

  • Trumps (1862)

  • Washington Irving: A Sketch (1891)

  • Essays from the Easy Chair (1893) (Project Gutenberg text [ permanent dead link ] )

  • Orations And Addresses (1894)

  • Literary and Social Essays (1895) (Project Gutenberg text)

  • Early Letters of George Wm. Curtis to John S. Dwight: Brook Farm and Concord (1898) (Project Gutenberg text [ permanent dead link ] )

  • Ars Recte Vivendi (1898)

Curtis CS-1 - History

During the 1890s, as white settlers flooded into Oklahoma Territory, demands increased to join the lands of the Five Tribes (Indian Territory) with Oklahoma Territory and thus form a new state. In 1887 the Dawes Severalty Act (General Allotment Act) legislated the allotment of communal tribal lands into individually owned plots, indicating a major shift in federal government policy. To aid the drive toward Oklahoma statehood and the full assimilation of its Indian population, the U.S. Congress created the Dawes Commission in 1893. Another congressional law, enacted June 28, 1898, was sponsored by Charles Curtis, a mixed-blood Kansa Indian and senator from Kansas. With the passage of the Curtis Act, Congress took final control over affairs in Indian Territory.

The Curtis Act helped weaken and dissolve Indian Territory tribal governments by abolishing tribal courts and subjecting all persons in the territory to federal law. This meant that there could be no enforcement of tribal laws and that any tribal legislation passed after 1898 had to be approved by the president of the United States. Towns could be surveyed and incorporated under the act, and residents were permitted to vote. The establishment of public schools was also sanctioned.

Before 1896 each of the Five Tribes had exercised sole jurisdiction over its citizenship requirements, determining who was a tribe member and who was not. With the passage of the Curtis Act Congress authorized the Dawes Commission to prepare new citizenship rolls for each tribe. Sen. Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts undertook the compilation of a census to be used as the basis for allotment of tribal lands to individual Indians. Enrollment of tribe members and the ensuing allotment was performed without tribal consent.

The Curtis Act dealt a blow to the governmental autonomy of the Five Tribes, but the act was merely the culmination of legislation designed to strip tribal governments of their authority and give it to Congress and/or the federal government. Ironically, Charles Curtis, himself of Indian blood, was responsible for the act that helped pave the way for the demise of the Indian nations and for the statehood of Oklahoma.


Kent Carter, The Dawes Commission and the Allotment of the Five Civilized Tribes, 1893–1914 (Orem, Utah: Ancestry.com, 1999).

Troy R. Johnson, ed., Contemporary Native American Political Issues (New York: AltaMira Press, 1999).

David E. Wilkins, American Indian Politics (New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2002).

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