Peter Preston Curtis was born on February 11th, 1825 to Van Rensselaer and Elizabeth (Dolin) Curtis in Kanawha City, West Virginia. I believe he was the oldest child of nine.
Some records show him as Preston Peter and others simply refer to him as PP. For our story today, I’m going to refer to him as Peter. I don’t have a picture of Peter himself, only one of his headstone. I wish I did!
Like I mentioned, Peter was born in 1825 in Kanawha City, West Virginia which is now a neighborhood in the city of Charleston, West Virginia. It is part of Appalachia.
At age 21, in 1846, Peter married Martha Jane Metcalf right there in Kanawha City. His mother passed away that same year at the young age of 43.
In April of 1848, Peter and Martha welcomed their first daughter, Lucinda Jane, who became my great-great-grandmother. The 1850 census found the family living in Boone, West Virginia, which is a big coal mining area,though Peter was listed as a farmer. That same year, Peter and Martha welcomed a son, Lorenzo Dow.
More children were born over the years, then the family picked up and moved to Iowa in 1852, settling in Delhi in Delaware county, which is where they were living during the Civil War. They moved to Hazel Green, Iowa about 1870. (Keep reading, there’s way more to the Peter’s story!). Martha passed away in 1872 at the age of 41 years, leaving Peter a widower. He then remarried in 1874 to Electa Malroy Worley, herself a widow with children. Peter lost quite a few of his children, one son murdered by horse thieves, before he himself passed away on February 5th, 1908 at the age of 82. He is buried in the Golden Prairie Cemetery in Ryan, Iowa.
So far, Peter’s story is dry. Lots of dates and facts. Please keep reading to put a man and his belief’s to the name.
From Delaware and Buchanan Counties History – Written in 1890
Preston P. Curtis is a native of Kanawha county, W.Va., and was born February 11, 1825. His father, Raneil (spelling?) Curtis, was born in Rensselaer county, N.Y. He removed to Brown county, Ohio, in an early day, and thence to the salt district of West Virginia. He was a farmer. He was born in 1800 and died in 1866. He was an intelligent man and quite prominent in local affairs. The mother of our subject was Elizabeth Dolin, a native of Virginia, and died in 1846. She was a member of the M.E. church and the mother of fourteen children, seven of whom are living.
Preston P. Curtis was born in a log cabin about sixteen feet square. He attended school one hundred and five days and went to five different school-houses. He walked two miles to log school-houses, with puncheon floors, slab seats, no windows, fire-place with chimney on outside. One of his teachers has since become Bishop Lewis Davis, of the United Brethren church, who died in Iowa a few years ago.
Mr. Curtis came West in the fall of 1852 in Delaware county, Iowa. He came by steamer down the Ohio and up the Mississippi to Dubuque, from which place he walked to Hopkinton. He located in the southeast corner of Delhi township, where he purchased a quarter section of land, for which he paid $2.50 per acre. He chopped and grubbed to get money to pay for his land. He had only $15 when he arrived in this county, and $10 of that he paid for doctor bills. Wild game was plentiful in those days, and Indians frequently visited the few scattering settlers to beg food and feed for their ponies. He built a log house and prepared to live in true pioneer style. In 1870 he removed to Hazel Grove township, where he bought land.
Mr. Curtis was married, October 15, 1847, to Miss Martha Metcalf, who was born in Virginia. She was a daughter of Samuel and Drusilla (Turley) Metcalf, both of whom were born in Virginia. Her father came to Delaware county, where he lived some time. He removed to Leavenworth, Kans., where he died in 1876.
The offspring of this union were thirteen children – Lucinda J., Lonzo D., Diana O., Lewis M., Noah W. (deceased), Van S., John R., George W., Joseph W., William S., Nathan D., and one died in infancy. His first wife died February 21, 1872.
He remarried in 1874, to Mrs. Electa Worley, who was born in Indiana September 28, 1828. Her father, John Malroy, was born in Hancock county, N.Y., April 20, 1794, and is still living, at the age of ninety-six years. He immigrated to Perry county, Ind., in 1811, when that country was full of wild animals and Indians. He came to Iowa in 1845, settling on Grove creek, in Delaware county. He pre-empted his first land and carried on farming as long as he was able.
The mother of Mrs. Worley (Malroy) bore the maiden name of Cynthia Lamb, and died in 1887, aged eighty-seven years. She was a kind-hearted woman, and organized the first Sunday-school ever held in Delaware county. Mrs. Curtis was married to Joseph Worley in 1846, who died September 12, 1867. Ten children were born of this union, viz.- Mary, Martha, Hattie, Liza, Frank, Daniel, Margaret, Susan, Charlotta, and Charles. Nine living.
Mr. Curtis was a whig before the birth of the republican party. He has never been actively engaged in political matters, but seldom fails to vote. He left Virginia because he became disgusted with the practice of slavery.
Mr. Curtis owns a fine farm of two hundred and twenty acres of land in Hazel Green township, and has been one of the most successful farmers in the county. He retired from active farm work in 1888, and has since been taking life easy.
Another ancestor that I wish I could sit down and visit with!
(Peter is my 3rd great-grandfather. He is the father of Lucinda Jane Curtis, who is the mother of Martha Almeda Rowe, who is the mother of Rolin Clay Simmons, who is the father of my own mother.)