RALPH C. CURTISS. Thirty-six years ago the eighteen year old State of Illinois was the cynosure of many an eye, especially among the young and enterprising sons of New England who emigrated to it in goodly numbers, contributed to its vigorous growth financially, and formed a part of the bone and sinew of its moral and religious elements.
With these pioneers came the subject of this notice, then a young man of twenty-two years. Although possessing limited means he was equipped with a good education, and engaged for eight years as a teacher in the infant town of Waverly. At about the expiration of this time he was married, and from that time forward interested himself in agricultural pursuits, by which he gained the competence he is now enjoying. He lives on a fine farm comprising 260 acres, occupying the southeastern part of section 22 in Waverly Precinct. A view of his comfortable home and pleasant surroundings appears in this volume.
Litchfield County, Conn., is the native place of our subject, and the date of his birth is March 5, 1831. He is the son of Erastus and Harriet (Tanner) Curtiss, who were likewise natives of Connecticut, and born in Warren; the former Sept. 20, 1789, and the latter in 1795. Mrs. Curtiss' father, Ebenezer Tanner, was a commissioned officer in the Revolutionary War. The parents of our subject were reared and married in their native place, where the father followed farming and spent his entire life. The household circle was completed by the birth of five children, who lived to become men and women. The eldest born, Charles H., and the second son, Franklin A., continue residents of Warren; Ellen H., is the wife of Ransom F. Everett of this county; Cyrus D., during the late Civil War enlisted in Company I, 101st Illinois Infantry, and served about one year when he was discharged on account of his physical weakness. He died in June 1865, leaving his wife with two sons - Charles F. and Winthrop.
The father of our subject was twice married, his second wife being Johanna Sturdevant, and of this union there were born three children, the eldest of whom, Homer S., during the war served in the 3d Connecticut Heavy Artillery, which was soon changed to Infantry, and assisted in the defense of Washington City. After the war was ended he came to this county, and died in 1875; Lucy J., Mrs. M. A. Strong, and Frances L., who married Austin R. Humphrey, are residents of Warren, Conn.
Erastus Curtiss was a man of more than ordinary ability, active in politics and bitterly opposed to the institution of slavery. He was one of the first in the movement of the liberty party, which insisted upon abolition, and being a man of means was enabled to exert a large influence. He died however, before being permitted to see the extinction of that institution. He was a man broad and liberal in his views, greatly interested in the cause of education, and gave to his children the best of advantages.
Our subject was a little lad of six years when he was deprived by death of the affectionate care of his mother. He remained with his father until a youth of nineteen years, attending school much of the time, then began teaching, and followed this several seasons in his native State. He was well fitted for this employment, having completed his studies in the State Normal School, which was instituted especially for the training of teachers. During his after labors in the State he introduced many excellent measures in connection with the school system, and was uniformly popular and successful.
The marriage of our subject with Miss Calista Lyman took place at the home of the bride in Sangamon County, Ill., in 1862. This lady is the daughter of Henry and Mercy (Sanders) Lyman, and was born in Sangamon County, Ill., July 14, 1834. Her parents emigrated from Vermont to Illinois during the early settlement of Sangamon County, where they spent the remainder of their lives. After his marriage Mr. Curtiss purchased 100 acres of his present farm, to which he added from time to time, and instituted modern improvements. He has substantial and convenient buildings, forest and fruit trees, all the requisite farm machinery and the general appliances of the well-regulated country estate.
Mr. Curtiss makes a specialty of stock-raising and is in the enjoyment of a competence, to which he was assisted, as he generally admits, largely by the industrious efforts of his estimable wife. Mrs. Curtiss is a lady of great common sense and intelligence and highly esteemed by all who know her. Our subject and his wife have never been blessed with children of their own, but have reared several others, who were without home or friends, giving them proper training and good advantages.
As the son of an Abolitionist Mr. Curtiss could scarcely now be otherwise than a stanch Republican in his political belief. Although having extensive interests to look after he has frequently served as a delegate to the conventions of his party and exercised no unimportant influence in its deliberations. In religious matters he coincides with the doctrines of the Congregational Church.