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California Genealogy and History Archives

Mendocino County Civil War Veterans
Submitted Sep 2010 by Ronald Cannon, MA



Jeremiah Depuy Curtis, 15 August 1847 IN-4 May 1894
Co. A, 53 IN Inf.
Russian River Cemetery, Ukiah (Q-7, Lot 9)
Pension No. 435,088

A FATAL ACCIDENT – Doc Curtis Thrown From a Wagon and Fatally Injured – Tugs Break and Curtis is Pulled from His Seat–The Wheels Pass Over His Body and Break His Back. – One of the most heartrending accidents that has ever happened in this county occurred last Friday morning at 10 o’clock near the village of Centerville, in Potter valley. A body of Masons comprising the following persons: S. D. Paxton, S. Marks, W. T. Kirkwood, J. B. Benton, O. H. P. Brown, W. W. Cunningham, H. T. Hatch, J. H. Barker, W. I. Bailey and Dr. G. W. Stout left Ukiah on that morning to attend the funeral of Wilson Lierly, an old and respected member of Abell Lodge No. 147, of this place. The party had engaged a coach from Curtis & Miller, the liverymen, and the elder member of the firm was engaged to drive for the party. The coach was a large 14-passenger thoroughbrace, and was hauled by four horses.

The trip to Potter was a most delightful one until a small stream near Centerville was approached. Here a little creek only a foot or two wide crossed the road. The leaders of the four horse team crossed the creek all right, but one of the wheel horses hesitated for a moment, and then attempted to jump across. The plunge made by the wheelhorse threw the whiffletrees onto the heels of the leaders, and the off one becoming frightened, made a desperate plunge and broke both traces in two. Being freed from the load it made another plunge. The jump made by the wheelhorse in attempting to cross the stream had rather unseated Curtis, and the plunging of the leader, catching him thus unsteadied, pulled him over the boot of the wagon. He fell onto the tongue of the wagon, and from there he fell under the wagon, and the fore and hind wheels of one side passed over his body. Curtis hung to the lines until the front wheel passed over him, when they slipped through his hands. Dr. Stout, who was on the seat with him, seeing that there was no chance to get hold of the reins, got on the break, and locking the wheels, slowed up the now thoroughly frightened team. As soon as the team was slowed up somewhat by the locked wheels and slight up grade, H. T. Hatch jumped out of the wagon and running to the off wheel horse caught it by the head, and by a vigorous struggle pulled it and its mate around to the left. This action caused the unattached leader to carry the nigh leader around to the right. This stopped the runaway and saved the passengers from what might have proved a terrible accident.

As soon as the coach was stopped, which was after it had run about 100 yards, those who could leave the frightened team went back to Curtis, who was lying on the road. As soon as they reached him he said: “Boys, I’m done for, my back is broken.” He was tenderly picked up and carried to the Hotel de Thornton, and Dr. Stout made an examination, and found that what Curtis had said was only too true. The heavy coach with its load of passengers passing over him, had broken his back.

News was immediately telephoned to Ukiah, although the seriousness of Curtis’ injuries was withheld. An ambulance, with mattresses, etc., was at once started for the scene of the accident accompanied by Mrs. Curtis. The accident occurred about 14 miles from Ukiah. Word of it was received in Ukiah about 11 o’clock, and Mrs. Curtis arrived at her husband’s side shortly before two o’clock, and was with him nearly two hours before he became unconscious. The unfortunate man realized that his injuries were fatal and met death with calm resignation. About half-past three, after much suffering, he became unconscious, and at ten minutes after four his spirit passed away. His body was at once brought to his residence here.

The funeral took place on Sunday, under the auspices of Ukiah Lodge, No. 33 A. O. U. W., of which deceased was a member. The funeral services were conducted by Rev. G. W. Phelps, pastor of the Presbyterian church. The funeral was one of the largest ever seen in this city.

J. D. Curtis was an old resident of this county. During most of his residence here he was engaged in the stage and livery business. For many years he was associated with the veteran mail contractor and stage line operator, W. H. Forse. They operated the overland route from Cloverdale to Eureka, and later from Ukiah to Hydesville. They were at one time proprietors of the Ukiah and Mendocino stage line, and subsequently of the Pieta and Lakeport line, which is now operated by Mr. Forse. Deceased was one of the projectors and builders of the Curtis Hotel, which was named after him. Lately he had been in the livery business in partnership with W. H. Miller. In every thing he took in hand he was energetic and enterprising, and in his death Ukiah has lost one of its most active citizens.
It seemed as if the deceased was destined to meet such a fate as he did. He was the victim of many narrow escapes. Only a year ago last March he met with an accident at the “blue slide” on the road between here and Willits. In crossing the slide, when it was in a very bad condition, he was thrown over the steep grade, and was picked up for dead. for several days his life was despaired of, but he finally recovered only to meet his death a little over a year later in the painful manner above narrated.

Deceased leaves behind a wife and ten children–nine girls and one boy. The children are all young. The grief of this stricken family is heartrending. The deep sympathy which goes out to them from the entire community, heartfelt as it is, can but in a very small measure assuage the suffering occasioned by this sudden and terrible bereavement. Under such circumstances as these words of consolation seem but mockery, and only time can help to heal hearts that are overwhelmed with grief. Dispatch Democrat 11 May 1894.