Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Mary Pattillo 1886 - 1981 My Grandaunt on My Father's Side

Mary as a young woman
Mary Pattillo was the second daughter of Carrie Brooks Stover and James William Pattillo. She was born in Texas – probably in Shackelford County where her father purchased five acres from S.W. Rudd for $550 in 1884. When the 1900 census was taken, her family had moved to Los Angeles, California where Mary was living with her parents, older sister Jo, two younger sisters Maude and Ruby, and two brothers Lewis and Elmer. Mary was thirteen at the time. In 1908 and 1909, the family was living at 1217 Birch in Los Angeles, according to directory listings. Mary attended a private Catholic school in Los Angeles.

When Mary was 24 she appeared on the 1910 Los Angeles census still living with her family on 37th Avenue. She was employed as an exchange operator. Two years later she was living at 2707 LaSalle and was employed as a clerk at the California Fruit Growers Exchange. The Southern California Fruit Exchange began in 1893 as a way of stabilizing the market for growers and it still exists in 2018. 

In 1911, when Mary was 23 her older sister Jo and younger brother Lewis were both married in June and September. 
James William Pattillo with his three oldest children
Jo, Mary, and Lewis

When Mary was 25, she married Russell Fraser on August 22, 1912. Russell was 27. According to the 1910 census, Russell was the son of Bruce E. Fraser from New York and Lacie Fraser from Canada. He had a younger sister Marion. For some reason, this marriage ended in divorce, and by 1914, Mary was again living with her parents, sister Ruby, and brother Elmer at 1307 West 51st Street in San Pedro, California. In the 1916 Los Angeles directory Mary was still working as a clerk – it does not say where and at that time she was living with her Cousin Ada Pattillo at 1233 ½ West 7th Street.

Mary’s sister Maude was also married in 1912 and their mother Carrie Brooks Stover Pattillo died in January of 1916 when Mary was 28.

The Fruit Growers Exchange where Mary worked in 1910
found on Google
Mary married a second time to Cary O’Steen on March 26, 1918, when she was 31. Cary was the son of Lewis A. O’Steen and Emma Cora McKinney. Cary was born in Columbia, Florida on August 29, 1887. According to the 1900 census Cary completed school through the 5th grade. He and his family lived at 1 Hickory Sink, Suwannee, Florida in 1900. In 1910 the census showed that Cary was a stenographer for a boat line and was living on Lake Avenue in Hillsborough, Florida.

Around 1915, Mary adopted the Christian Science religion as did her sister Jo. Both were very devoted. Mary’s Grandniece, Joyce Tucker Modugno recalls that her Grandaunt Mary was always “reading one of those little red books” associated with the religion.

By 1917, Cary was living in Los Angeles where he registered for the draft for WWI. He and Mary appeared together on the 1920 Los Angeles census living at 3919 Vermont when Cary was working as a commercial bookkeeper. Mary’s mother-in-law Emma, 62 was living with them at that time. By 1929 Cary was working for the Burbank Mutual Life and Benefits Association. His name appeared on a financial report that I found on Google and identified him as the secretary-treasurer of the company.  Another document found on Google was a summary of a lawsuit which named both Cary and Mary as well as a Raymond O’Steen. The documentation is difficult for a non-attorney to understand but what I gather is that Cary and Burbank Mutual were sued in Monterey County Superior Court. Money was owed and Cary had hidden $2992 in a safe deposit box under the fictitious name of C. Collins – apparently to avoid paying what was owed. The 1900 census shows that Cary had two brothers and two sisters – none were named Raymond so the person named in the suit may have been an uncle or a cousin.

Despite these difficulties, Mary and Cary remained together appearing on the 1930 and 1940 censuses.  In 1930, they owned their home at 3 Country Club Knoll (now Drive) in the Sunset Canyon Country Club of Burbank. The home was valued at $3500 – the least expensive home in a very nice neighborhood and they had a swimming pool.
Mary and Cary's home in Burbank on Country Club Knoll

In 1940, their son Jack Cary O’Steen was also listed on the census. Jack was born on August 12, 1928, in Riverside. He was an adopted son and since he was not with Mary and Cary on the 1930 census he must have been adopted shortly after his second birthday.  In 1946, when Jack was eighteen he registered for the draft and got married. On his draft registration, he is described as being 6’2” tall, weighing 138 pounds and having brown eyes and black hair. He married Jeannine Dorsey the daughter of Roland and Sarah Isabel Dorsey. Jack and Jeannine were both residents of Washington DC according to their marriage license but for some unknown reason, they were married by a Justice of the Peace in Guilford County, North Carolina. Jeannine was born in DC. At some point, Jack moved back to Los Angeles and in 1954, when he registered to vote, he was living at 1196 West 10th Street. Jack died on June 21, 1985 – he was 56. 
Mary holding one of her nephews or nieces

When Cary registered to vote in 1944 he was employed as an accountant for the city which seems curious given his fiscal shenanigans just a few years earlier. He registered as a Democrat and was renting a home at 125½ Witmer Street, Los Angeles – the same address he and Mary lived at when the 1940 census was taken, and where they were living in 1935. Today, there is a multi-story parking garage at that location. Cary died sometime after 1944 but I have been unable to find a death record for him.

Mary was working as a bookkeeper in 1940. At some point, Mary either divorced or left Cary and went to live with her sister Maude and Maude’s husband Otto Baty on Zelzah Street in Granada Hills, California – that was in the 1950s. When Maude and Otto moved to Los Osos Mary moved with them. She remained there until shortly before her death on June 12, 1981, after spending some time in a convalescent home. She was 93 years old when she died - the last of her five siblings to die.

Joyce described Mary as "a woman ahead of her time, she was nice, attractive as a young woman and had a wonderful personality. Mary experienced a very sad life marrying Cary O'Steen who provided a very comfortable and seemingly secure life for Mary including a beautiful home in Burbank on Country Club Drive. She wore lovely jewelry and clothes.  They adopted a baby boy, named Jack when it was apparent that Mary couldn't carry a child to birth. The lifestyle and the marriage however soon fell apart when Cary was convicted of embezzlement and was sent to jail." That is about the time Mary started living with her sister Maude. Her son Jack rarely communicated with his adoptive mother after he left home. Joyce’s memory of Mary is of “a very sweet, small older lady, dressed in a “house” dress. I also remember her sitting on her bed and reading her religious pamphlets.”  Joyce’s daughter Krista inherited a large amethyst ring from her grandmother who inherited the ring from Mary.
Mary during the time she lived with her sister Maude and
brother-in-law Otto, probably in Los Osos

Another grandniece, Laine Lawrence recounted this story that her mother Elma shared about her aunt Mary, “Jo, Carl, and children were going to visit relatives in Fresno (before they moved there) and picked up Mary on the way.  Mary played golf at the time so it must have been while she was living in the Country Club community.  She was wearing knickers and Carl was scandalized by her apparel.  It was in the winter and Carl's car was a touring car with no windows only curtains.  So everyone but Mary was freezing crossing the Grapevine and Carl had to apologize for making such a fuss about her wearing knickers.  This story always made me think Mary was a very "modern" woman and a woman with self-confidence.

Unlike Joyce and Laine, I have no personal recollections of Mary. My connection is through Mary’s brother Lewis Pattillo, my grandfather who was very quiet. I don’t recall him ever talking about Mary or any of his other siblings. 

Souces For This Post: 1900 - 1940 censuses, directories, emails from Laine and Joyce.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Jo Pattillo 1885-1958 My Grandaunt on My Father's Side

Jo Pattillo on her wedding day
Note: This post was written jointly with Jo's granddaughter Laine Lawrence, my second cousin.

Jo Pattillo began her life as a miraculous exception – she survived. Her mother Carrie Brooks Stover Pattillo had given birth at least three times before.   Three children had died and are buried in the Handley Cemetery in Tarrant County, Texas.   Jo would always say the reason that she had such an abbreviated name was because her mother had already given birth to seven children that had died before Jo was born on February 22, 1885.  Since her parents, James and Carrie Pattillo, didn’t expect her to live either they weren’t incline to waste a whole name so they just gave her the name Jo with no middle name.   It seems most likely that they named her for Carrie’s mother, Joanna Gaines Stover.  Jo died on February 23, 1958, one day after her 73rd birthday. She grew up, got married twice, moved to California, had children and grandchildren – just the way it’s supposed to happen. Within three years of her birth she and her family, including her baby sister Mary Pattillo, moved from Texas to California where her father started a concrete contracting business.

After the move to California, her brothers Lewis and Elmer and twin sisters Ruby and Maude were born. When the 1900 census was taken Jo was 15 years old and living with her parents and siblings at 212 Jefferson Street in Los Angles. She was attending school in Los Angeles.   On the 1910 census, Jo was living with her parents and her five siblings on West 37th Avenue in Los Angeles. She and her sister Mary were both working as exchange operators for the telephone company.
Jo and her sister Mary as toddlers

The following year, Jo married Carl Mixer Frink on June 1, 1911.  They honeymooned twenty-two miles away on Santa Catalina, Island.    Jo was 26 and Carl was 29.  Carl was the son of Charles E. Frink and Louisa Young.  He was born in Iowa and had lived in St. Paul, Minnesota and Chicago, Illinois.   As early as 1905 he had participated in and won medals for motorcycle cross-country endurance races.  When Carl moved to California, about 1909, he became a proprietor of the Frink and Bryant  Motorcycle Dealership in Los Angeles and was the Pacific Coast agent for Wagner Motorcycles.    Carl had asthma and as it became worse he sought employment working on the oil drilling rigs off the coast of Long Beach.  He worked for Puente Oil Company in San Pedro in Los Angeles County until his death.
Jo with her first  husband Carl Frink who died during the
flue pandemic of 1918.

Jo and Carl were living at 210 West 51st Street in 1916 when they registered to vote. Both identified themselves as “Progressives” – just one example of Jo being non-conventional. While this was not terribly uncommon at that time, it certainly was less routine than identifying themselves as either Democrat or Republican.

Jo and Carl had three daughters – Elma Mae born in 1912, Jeannette Louise in 2014, and Ruth Corrine in 2018.  Elma was born at the Clara Barton Hospital in Los Angeles.  Elma was named for Carl’s sister, Elma Mae.  Jeanette’s middle name was for his mother, Louise(a).

Early in 1916, when Jo was 30, her mother Carrie died from diabetes and pulmonary tuberculosis after a long illness. Carrie was cremated and her ashes are buried in Los Angeles.
Jo's daughter Elma and granddaughter Laine
Jo’s husband Carl died on October 27, 1918, less than a month before the war ended.   He died as a result of the Spanish flu pandemic that ultimately claimed 675,000 Americans and infected approximately one-third of the world’s population.  Twenty to fifty million people worldwide died.  Jo was widowed at the age of 33 with three daughters aged 6 and younger to raise. Laine Lawrence, Jo’s granddaughter recalls her mother Elma talking about Jo and how hard times were after Carl died. She told Laine, “Jo supported her family by making pies and selling them.  She kept the money she earned in a cookie jar on a shelf”.   Elma once climbed on the counter and stole a nickel from the jar.  She knew how hard her mother worked for her money and she carried that shame with her for the rest of life.  The other thing she was ashamed of was the first Christmas after her father’s death she asked for a porcelain doll, but Jo could only afford to get her a bisque doll.  Elma was so disappointed she threw it into the fireplace shattering it into many pieces.  Jo was so sweet that she would never get mad at her girls and never even said a word about the money or doll to Elma.” Elma told Laine, “The only thing she wanted of Jo’s after Jo died was that cookie jar so she would never forget about the bad thing she had done.”  
L-R Bessie's daughter, Bessie Boutain, Maude Pattillo, unknown,
Jo Pattillo, Joanna, and Anna Pattillo

In 1920, Jo was living at 558 West 40th Street in Los Angeles (San Pedro) with her three young daughters aged 7, 5 and 15 months. She was unemployed when the census was taken. It was about this time when Jo did an unconventional thing – she converted to the Christian Science religion. The primary tenant of the religion is that sickness is an illusion that can be corrected by prayer alone. From what I know of our Pattillo ancestors religion was not a strong factor in their lives. Jo’s mother Carrie was a descendant of Daniel Stover who was actively involved with the Baptist Church. Daniel was her great grandfather though – a distant relative. Her grandfather William Stover was a Trustee of the Baptist Church but I don’t know anything about her parent’s religious beliefs. With her family background and the fact that her first husband died from influenza, it seems particularly significant that Jo chose to practice this non-traditional religion. She adopted the faith during a time when the religion was growing in acceptance, so she must have been influenced by what she read and heard at the time. Her sister Mary also adopted the religion. Laine recalls that her grandmother had a photograph of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science church, in a chest that held the family photos.  Laine said, “I just thought she was another family member.” Jo raised all of her children as a Christian Scientist but none of them continued to practice that religion as they matured.
L-R Maude Pattillo, Unkown man, Jo Pattillo, probably Mary
Pattillo, and an unknown woman and man.

When Jo was 36 she married for a second time to Carl Joseph Miller.  They met when Jo was taking Baby Corrine “Corky” for a walk.  Carl supposedly was attracted to them by Corky's abundance of blond curls.   Carl was born in Missouri on April 14, 1890, so he was five years younger than Jo – one more unusual thing about Jo Pattillo to have married a younger man in a time when that was rarely done. I found Carl’s mother’s name Minnie on the 1900 and 1910 censuses but no father. He had three brothers. An older brother Charles was 16 in 1900, and two younger brothers, Harry and Leo. When they were married Carl was working as a police officer.
Jo's daughter Corrine with those curls
that attracted Carl Miller

By April of 1930, Jo and Carl were living at 4688 Inyo Street in Fresno. Today, that address has been redeveloped into what looks like townhouses. Their monthly rent, according to the census, was $25. Jo’s father and siblings had moved to Fresno in 1918 and James was still there in 1925 so apparently, Jo and her new husband moved there to join the rest of her family. Carl was working as a glazier for a glass company. All five of their children were listed in the household on the 1930 census, however, Elma was attending a boarding school in Oakland that year. They did not yet own a radio, according to the census.

Jo and Carl had two children. Patsy Irene Miller was born in 1922 when Jo was 37 and a son, James “Jim” Carl Miller in 1924 when Jo was 39 which was rather old to be giving birth – just one more example of Jo’s non-conventional life.  Jo was 40 when her brother Elmer died and 41 when her father James died.

In about 1930 Jo and Carl moved their family to Brentwood, Contra Costa County, California.   Al of their children with the exception of Elma graduated Liberty Union High School in Brentwood.  The 1940 census had Jo and Carl living in a rural area of Byron.  Patsy was 17 and Jim 15.  They were renting their home and paying rent of $16 per month. Carl was working as a clerk for the government earning $422 that year. Jo was not working outside the home.   However, there were times during those years when she would provide her services as a midwife or provide private nursing care.  It is unclear how she reconciled her passion for giving health care with her religious beliefs.
Standing L-R Corrine, Ed & Lottie Pattillo, Carl Miller, Jim
Front row L-R Elmer Gauger, Al Smith, Elma holding Karen
Jo (middle), Patsy Miller, Jeanne holding Sue
  

Carl and Jo lived in at least two houses in Concord, California in the 1940’s and 1950’s, the first was on Concord Boulevard. and the second on Walnut Road.  For the last eight to ten years of her life Jo was disabled with diabetes and was in need of daily assistance.  Most of the time she would be cared for in her home by Carl, Elma or Jeannette who made almost daily drives from Brentwood to Concord to cook and clean.  Other times, by rotation, she would stay with each of her children.  When her Christian Science belief’s kicked in, she would stop taking her insulin and end up in the hospital in a very grave condition.  Doctors were surprised that she would survive these episodes.

Towards the end of Jo’s life she probably had Alzheimer’s and as the disease progressed she was admitted to the Contra Costa County Hospital.  In the 1950’s there were no skilled nursing facilities for placement for seniors who did not have the resources for private care.  In the last few weeks of her life, she was moved to the Stockton State Hospital where she died. By then Carl had moved in with their son and his family at their home at 1382 Rosal Lane in Concord. 
1382 Rosal Lane home in Concord


Jo and her second husband Carl are buried in San Bruno at the Golden Gate National Cemetery for veterans. They are in section U, plot No. 2885.
Unknown, Jo and daughter Elma

Jo with her daughter Corrine (Corky) and
 two grandsons Mike and Tim (baby).

Elma, Evelyn and Jeaneatte

L-R Jeanette, Jo, Corky, and Elma

558 40th Street in San Pedro where Jo was living with
her 3 daughters in 1920
James William Pattillo with his two oldest daughters
Mary and Jo

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Lewis Wood Pattillo 1890 - 1978 My Paternal Grandfather

Lewis Wood Pattillo
My paternal grandfather was an ordinary man who lived during an extraordinary time period. He was the son of parents who were directly impacted by the Civil War, and during his lifetime he lived through the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War. While he registered for two of these conflicts he did not serve in any. The radio, movies, airplanes, radar, television, helicopters, jets, computers, fiber optics, and the bikini were all invented while he was alive. Eight new states joined the union – Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska, and Hawaii. The internet launched and we walked on the moon.
Lewis as an infant
Lewis was born on March 18, 1890. He was the first son born to Carrie B. and James W. Pattillo who lived beyond infancy. Carrie’s first three births were all boys – Wirt, born May 23, 1880, James H. born September 18, 1882, and a third unnamed son that was born and died on January 31, 1884. Lewis had two older sisters – Jo and Mary, one younger brother, Elmer (see July 2016 blog post), and twin sisters Maude and Ruby. The three boys who died were all born in Handley, Texas. Jo and Mary were also born in Texas. Lewis, Maude, Ruby, and Elmer were all born while the family was living in Los Angeles. Elmer also had a twin – a brother named Edward who lived to be a toddler.

Lewis as a young boy
When Lewis was born his family was living at 3443 Delmonte in Los Angeles. By 1900 when the census was taken, he was ten years old, and the family had moved to 212 Jefferson Street, Los Angeles. The 1909 city directory shows the family living at 1176 W. 37th Place which was considered an upscale neighborhood at the time. Lewis’s father was a self-employed concrete paving contractor with a successful business at that point. In later years, James had financial difficulties, which is probably why they moved to Fresno in 1918.

Homes & Professional Life
Lewis started working for his father when he was still a teenager. City directories list JW and LW Pattillo working at JW Pattillo & Co. starting in 1909. He continued in that profession his entire life as did his son Bert, so there are three generations of concrete workers in our family. One of the most notable projects Lewis worked on was the concrete work for the Posey Tube that runs under the Oakland Estuary and connects the cities of Oakland and Alameda.
Phone directory listing showing Lewis
Working for JW Pattillo & Co.
When he was twenty-one, Lewis married Anna Vetter on September 18, 1911. They were married by a Methodist Episcopal Minister in Pasadena. Anna’s sister Mary and a friend named George Riehl were their witnesses. When they were married, Lewis was still living on W. 37th Place and Anna was living at 321 N. Catalina in Pasadena. Anna would have been living with her father and his new wife Nellie Gilbert, so she was probably very anxious to get out of the house. After they were married, Lewis and Anna’s first home was at 2707 LaSalle Avenue. Two years later they were living at 221 W. 51st Street.
221 52st Street, Los Angeles where Lewis and Anna lived
shortly after they were married

On July 3, 1917, Lewis filled out his draft registration papers for World War I. By that time he and Anna had moved to Fresno and were living at 3454 Nevada Avenue. Lewis was working as a cement finisher at Thompson Brothers in Bakersfield. A year later they’d moved to 3512 Tulare Street in Fresno where they stayed until 1927.

Home that Lewis and Anna rented for $28 per month at
1310 49th Avenue, Oakland
When the 1930 census was taken Lewis, Anna, and their two sons, Edward and Bert were living at 1310 49th Avenue in Oakland, California, and Lewis was working as a cement contractor. They were renting their home for $28 per month. They continued to live at that address until about 1949 when they bought their home at 5632 Hilton Street in Oakland. This is the home where I remember celebrating holiday dinners. It was a small stucco house on a small lot. The dining room was so small that Gramma had to set a separate table in the living room for her four youngest grandchildren – that included me. There were only two bedrooms. As a boy, my father had to share a room and the bed with his younger brother. I have no recollection of the kitchen but I distinctly recall Grandpa sitting in his chair which was in the corner of the living room near the front door. Gramma crocheted so there were doilies on the arms of all the furniture and table tops.

I have a note in my database saying that Lewis was a maintenance foreman at the Alameda Naval Base in 1938. Mom gave me this information but I have nothing to collaborate it. I have some doubt about the accuracy of the information because my Grandfather worked as a cement finisher his entire life, and he did not seem like the “foreman” type. On the 1940 census, Lewis was listed as a cement finisher earning $1500 a year and working 36 weeks per year.
Lewis and Anna's home on Hilton in Oakland where I
remember celebrating holidays with our family

In 1942, when Lewis registered for World War II he was 52 years old and working for a man named Nat Lena at 1174 19th Street in West Oakland. Nat emigrated from Italy in 1902 and started his construction business in Oakland in 1914. Nat was a member of Oakland Rotary for 47 years and when he died he left $85,000 to the club’s scholarship fund. I found this information on a blog called Oakland Underfoot. Linda Hamilton shared the information about Nat in 2011.

Searching historic newspapers yielded very little information about Lewis but I did find one article that included a blurry photo. The news clip was dated December 13, 1949. The photo caption said that Lewis and Erik E. Waldius served coffee at a Fifty-Plus Club event. This seems to be some sort of community service group.
Lewis and Anna on their wedding day

As a child, I visited my grandparents regularly with my family. We celebrated most holidays together along with and my aunt, uncle, and two cousins. My grandfather’s appearance never changed during the time I knew him. My impression of him is simply that he was very quiet. My cousin Laine says that is because whenever he tried to speak up his wife Anna would tell him to be quiet.

Sometime after he retired Lewis and Anna moved to Contra Costa County and lived in a retirement facility near their son Bert and Aunt Marge. They were living there when Lewis and Anna celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Lewis died on March 22, 1978. He was 88 years old. Jimmy Carter was president at the time. He and Anna are buried in the mausoleum at Oakmont Memorial Park in Lafayette, California.
Lewis and Anna's crypt at Oakmont Memorial Park

Lewis and Anna at Grandpa
Thornally's cabin in Brookdale, CA

Back: Lewis, John and Emma Thornally
Front: Anna, Ed, Marge, and Bert Pattillo

Lewis and Anna with sons Bert (L) and Ed (R)
ca. 1922

Lewis and his father James William
Pattillo, Ed in the overalls, and two
unknown children

Lewis and Anna with their first grandchild,
Terry Pattillo, 1942


Lewis & Anna with Chris Pattillo, 1950

Lewis and Anna 50th Wedding anniversary

L-R: Emma Thornally, Lewis and Anna, Ed,
and Chris Pattillo

Lewis, Anna, Ed, Lottie, Terry and Emma 1970

2707 LaSalle, Los Angeles, where Lewis and Anna lived
when they were first married, 1911

Lewis, Anna, and Ed with their model T Car

Lewis and his sister Jo.

Lewis in the plaid jacket with the crew that poured the
concrete for the Posey Tube between Oakland and Alameda

Lewis's signature
Sources For This Post: 1900 to 1940 censuses, Ed Pattillo's birth record, Lewis's WWI and WWII registration, phone directories from Los Angeles, Fresno and Alameda Counties, marriage license, voter registration, Oakland Tribune news article from 1949.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Rice Curtis Sr. 1680-1749 My 7th Great Grandfather on My Father’s Side

Christ Church in Middlesex County, Virginia
Rice Curtis Sr. was the son of Giles and Mary Curtis. He was born on November 4, 1680, in Christ Church Parish in the Colony of Virginia, and baptized the following January 15th. He had at least one sister Jane who was baptized on July 24, 1687. Rice married Elizabeth Merry, the widow of Peter Montague. Rice’s name appeared in the Christ Church registry when his son Rice Jr. was born in 1704, he was 23.  When he was 27 Rice again appears in the record books when Thomas Montague chose him to serve as his guardian after the death of Thomas’s father Peter Montague.

Christ Church from the Library of Congress collection of
Historic American Building Survey (HABS)
One of the best sources for Rice Curtis Sr. is the Parish Register of Christ Church, Middlesex County, Virginia 1653 to 1812 published by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in 1897. This book lists births, marriages, and deaths of family members and slaves. This is the first time I have found such information about the African American’s who enabled one of our ancestors to thrive as a tobacco Planter. This source has twenty entries about the workers owned by Rice.  Jenny or Jeney gave birth to five children between 1714 and 1725 who were named Nanny, Ned, Natt, a Winnie, and a Winney. Judy had a son Frank on 5, 1723, and Jack on July 12, 1725. Phillis had sons Enos on October 21, 1724, and Will on January 17, 1726. Frank, Sarah, and Judith were born between 1708 and 1711 but for some reason, Rice did not register their births until 1726, and the names of their mothers were not recorded. That year was notable because four of the farms' laborers died in 1726 – Dinah on February 26th, Dick on July 29th, two-year-old Minta, Jone’s daughter, on December 10th, and Tom on December 12th.  I checked Evan’s Early American - A Brief History of Epidemic and Pestilential Diseases; and learned that the summer of 1725 was particularly wet and cold and the winters between 1722 and 1725 were called, “the hard winter.” There was a severe frost in January of 1726. People suffered and died from fevers in summer and “inflammatory” in winter.
Middlesex County historic marker

In the Spotsylvania Roads Order Book from 1722-1744, I found an interesting set of entries starting in March of 1730 at which time Rice was ordered to take over as overseer for building the County Road to Greens Branch. The following month, Rice refused to accept the responsibility and was fined 20 shillings. In May, Robert Hutchison was appointed to take over the task, and on May 5th Rice presented his case for having his 20 shillings refunded. The entry stated that Rice had ample reasons for not accepting the responsibility but did not explain what those reasons were. On May 4th the topic changed to “pining down a plank” at the Po River Bridge which Rice was responsible for maintaining. That same day there was a cryptic note stating that Rice would be responsible for maintaining the bridge for ten years and it seems he was to be paid £6000 pounds of tobacco. 
Christ Church historical marker

In October of 1731, Rice was charged with building and maintaining a bridge over the River Ny. This transaction was for £2000 of tobacco. Two other bridges were mentioned in a November record – the Mine Bridge and the East North East Bridge. Rice was involved with both projects. Two additional entries addressed who would continue to maintain these bridges and included a reference to the Hazel Bridge. These types of records are not uncommon but it still amuses me that individuals were responsible for building their own roads and bridges – tasks we now leave to our various branches of governments.

I found a couple of source books that mention that Rice served as a Vestryman in Spotsylvania County from 1731 to 1738 which indicates he was actively engaged in civic affairs. According to the Christ Church Parish Registry, “Vestrymen were chosen from the leading citizens of the parish.” According to Wikipedia, “A Vestry may also have had the role of supervising local (Parish) public services, such as the workhouse, administration of poor relief, the keeping of parish records (baptisms, deaths, and marriages) and so on. Usually the term vestryman (as used in the UK) would denote a member of the parish council at a certain period in history (and is synonymous with or equivalent to a parish councilor) but the term may depending on context, also signify an official (or employee) of the Parish Council although strictly, this should be in the form Vestryman.”

Display in the Middlesex museum
Between 1741 and 1751 when Rice was aged 49 to 59 he was involved in several land transactions. In one source – Spotsylvania Vital Records 1722-1800 I found 3 records showing that Rice purchased a total of 795 acres in the county, and eight more records of sales totaling 1927acres.  Clearly, he must have acquired much of his land prior to 1722.


Location of Middlesex County in Virginia
Christ Church from the HABS collection, Library of Congress
Rice Curtis made his will on January 22, 1742. In it, he distributed his property to his family. Phillip Vass received the slaves that were currently in his possession plus a desk. Phillip was Rice’s great-granddaughter Mary Curtis’s husband. Henry Pendleton, husband of Rice’s granddaughter also received two slaves and a looking glass. He stipulated that fifty pounds was to be raised from his estate and used to purchase two female Negroes aged about fourteen and given to his son Rice Jr. He directed that his slaves Cate and Little along with their current and future offspring be equally divided among his three youngest daughters. Anything that was left of his estate after his mother died was to be given to his son Rice Curtis Jr. A provision was added by his wife Elizabeth certifying that she resigned her right and title to the administration of her husband’s estate. I do not know where Rice Curtis is buried.