Biography of James W. Curtis

A Canadian by birth and education and reared in lofty devotion to his native land, James W. Curtis, of Garfield county, this state, with a pleasant home and profitable ranch five miles northeast of Carbondale, is nevertheless fervently loyal to the land of his adoption and the particular state in which he lives. His life began in the province of New Brunswick on April 22, 1842, and he is the son of Charles and Jane (Caneer) Curtis, the former born in Nova Scotia and the latter in New Brunswick. In 1870 they moved to Maine and some time afterward to Massachusetts. In the latter state they remained to the end of their days, the father being profitably engaged in the manufacture of boots and shoes. He was a Republican in politics, a Baptist in church relation, and a Freemason and an Orangeman in fraternal life. He died in 1873. His widow, also a Baptist in religious faith, survived him twenty-three years, passing away in 1896. They were the parents of ten children, of whom Sarah, Ellen and John are dead. The seven living are James W., Charles, of Los Angeles, California; Sophie, the wife of Ellis Hall, of Oakland, California; Christopher P., a resident of Boston, Massachusetts; Catherine and George, living in New York city; and Clarence. James attended the public schools a short time, and at the age of ten began to earn his own living by working on farms and in the lumber woods of New Brunswick. Quitting these employments, and gratifying a desire to see more of the world, he shipped as a cabin boy at fourteen dollars a month, but a few years later returned to farm work at six dollars a month and his board. When he reached the age of twenty-one he joined the United States navy, and after serving two years learned cabinetmaking, at which he worked eleven years. In 1873 he moved to Minnesota in the hope of finding a suitable location for a permanent residence and good business opportunities, but in 1879 came to Colorado and located at Leadville. Here he followed carpenter work, taking contracts for building shaft houses and timbering the mines. He had two years of profitable employment in these lines, but wasted most of his earnings in mining speculations. He then opened a boarding or road house near Aspen, which he conducted with considerable profit for seven years. In 1887 he located on his present ranch, taking up a pre-emption claim of one hundred and sixty acres, to which he has since added two hundred and forty acres. Of the four hundred acres he now owns, two hundred and forty are under cultivation and yield abundant crops of alfalfa, grain and potatoes. He also carries on an extensive cattle industry and is prosperous in every line of his business. In politics he is a Socialist of strong convictions, and in fraternal life was for years an active Freemason and a member of the Grand Army of the Republic. On May 15, 1872, he was married to Miss Lizzie McCausland, who was born at Waterville, Maine, the daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth (Erskin) McCausland, natives of the same state as herself. Her father was a contractor and builder, and died in 1860. The mother now lives at Aspen, this state. They had two children, the son William dying some years ago. The father was a Universalist in church faith, and an ardent Know-Nothing during the life of that party, afterward becoming an equally ardent Republican. Mr. and Mrs. Curtis have had five children. One daughter, Bessie, died in infancy. The four living are Hattie, the wife of George Wathen, of Aspen; Alice, the wife of Ralph Huntington, Rex and Judith, the last three living at home holics, and the father supports the Democratic party.


Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.


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