Who was John Curtis?

Many thanks to George Curtis, president of the Curtis/Curtiss Family Society, for this biographical information about John Curtis, the Hanover native who donated the land for the construction of the 1896 Curtis School. He is better known for having donated his collection of books and some of his fortune to the town for the construction of what is now the John Curtis Free Library. For more information on the Society, visit www.curtis-curtiss.org.

Hanover native John Curtis

John Curtis was born in Hanover on July 10, 1817, the seventh of eight children born to John Curtis (1772-1851) and Sally Mann (c1877-1865).  He was the sixth generation of a line from William Curtis of Scituate, the immigrant.  John’s line, beginning with his father, is thus: John5 and Sally Mann of Hanover, John4 (1742-1799) and Anna Curtis (1748-1823) of Hanover, John3 (1709-1799 born Scituate & died Hanover) and Mary Bryant (1711-1797), John2 (1671-1750 born Scituate & died Hanover) and Experience Palmer, William1 (1627-abt 1703) and Sarah Moore (b. 1632 Scituate).

The 1627 baptism of William1 Curtis is recorded in the records of St. Nicholas Parish in the village of Ash, Kent County, England. Ash is located on the main road between Canterbury and Sandwich. Tragedy struck the Curtis family in late 1631 with the death of Thomas Curtis, father of William1 and his siblings. Their mother, Richardene, pregnant with her last child John, remarried in the summer of 1632 to Thomas Chambers.  The family came to Scituate in about 1638 as that is the first mention of Thomas Chambers and the Curtis children in Scituate records.

Information on the early life of John6 can be found in “History of the Town of Hanover, Massachusetts” by Dwelley and Simmons 1910, pages 130-134. The book was reprinted in 1975 by the Hanover Bicentennial Committee. The “Historical Sketch of the Town of Hanover, MA with Family Genealogies” by Barry 1853 has a piece on John5 and children on page 287. Both books are in the John Curtis Free Library.

From the Federal Census of 1850-1880 and other sources, I found the following on John6 Curtis and his family.  He married Marian A. Fuller (1820-1883) on Oct 6, 1845. Marian was born in Wellesley, Norfolk County. MA. They had one child, a daughter Alice Marian, born on April 24, 1847 in Chelsea, MA. Alice died sometime after 1906. In the 1850 census, John6 was a tailor and the family living in Chelsea. In the 1870 and 1880 census, the family was living in Needham and John6’s occupation was listed a ‘clothing manufacturer.’ In the 1880 census, Marian is listed as having asthma and Alice was an artist.

I was able to find Alice’s passport applications of 1884, 1891 and 1901, all indicating she was living in Boston, 113 Boyleston St, 324 Boyleston St, 506 Beacon St, respectively. I also found John6 and Alice on a ship’s passenger lists in 1886 returning from Liverpool. I found no passport applications for John6 but did find an 1867 application for his wife Marian.

There is a John Curtis listed in the Boston city directories of the 1870’s as a clothier at 6 & 8 North Street, Boston with a house in Grantville which is very close to Needham. The 1900 directory lists “Curtis, John (Hotel Berkeley) died April 7, 1900.”


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