1898 Letters

June 27, 1898 letter to Willis Brown from Josephine Curtiss

June 27, 1898    

To: Willis Brown, Chicago, IL

From: Josephine Curtiss, Sodus, NY

Gives an update on her family and also recounts the earlier deaths of Charles and Sidney Allen and how William Tinklepaugh dishonestly took Sidney’s home away from him.

1898-06-27 Josephine Curtiss to Willis Brown

E. Curtiss, A. M., Principal
Sodus, N.Y., June 27, 1898

My dear Cousin,[1]

Your welcome letter came like a ray of sunshine after a shower dispelling many a cloud of doubt and misgiving. I have always felt that I had no relation on my fathers[2] side, so when I chance to see or hear from one I am always very happy over the event. Of course had my father lived it would have been very different I fancy. But as it is we have drifted away from each other. When Mr. Arms[3] was here, he kindly called on me and told me about your mothers[4] condition.[5] I was indeed sorry to hear of her poor health, but am so glad she can be with her son.[6] I have been looking for a letter from Henry[7] since Mr. Arms was here, but so far it is in vain. My mother[8] is quite smart for one of her age, she is 76, does her own work for herself and husband. My stepfather[9] has been ill since the holidays, but is now improving a little. Yesterday they were both here with me all day, for the first time since Christmas.

My husband[10] is Principal of the Academy here, and we have two children. Our daughter[11] is eighteen, and is in Syracuse University, has been two years there, and two more to go when she will graduate. Baby boy, and Willis is his name who is now 14 and he goes to school to his papas. Of course we are proud of them and now think they bid fair to be a great comfort to us. This week my husband is in Baltimore and Boston, last week was in Chicago and St. Louis on business of course.

Well, now I must answer some of the queries your letter contained. Can it be possible that your mother has not heard of both of her brothers death here? I infer so from your letter. I will enclose the article we preserved in the paper. A year ago this June Uncle Charles[12] died, and Uncle Sidney[13] about 13 years ago. Hattie[14] died two years before her father with a cancer, the same disease her mother[15] died with, and she left two daughters,[16] one a young lady old enough to keep house for her father,[17] in fact present appearances look as if she might be keeping house for herself in the near future,[18] and such is life. I am quite surprised for I supposed your people kept up correspondence with the relatives here. How singular that Hattie did not keep you posted in regard to her father, but she was peculiar.

Poor Aunt Cornelia[19] has been living with her daughter Susie[20] since Uncle Sidney died until a few weeks ago she went to live with her eldest son.[21] It seems Susie and her husband[22] felt that they had kept her for 13 years, and it was no more their right that Sam should do a little toward her support, so Susie asked him if he would not help them a little as her husband was poor and now could not get any work at all this summer, and only asked if he could not pay them $1.00 a week, but Sam said no he could not, but he would take her to his home. Of course she had been with Susie so long that they both felt very badly indeed to be separated now in her old age. But it seems she has gone with Sam, and by the way it is back on her own farm, that her son Sam’s father (step-father)[23] took dishonorably away from them. Yes before Uncle Sidney’s death that happened. It is a long, sad story. For a long long time Aunt Cornelia would not or could not pass by there she felt so badly, and now to think she has been obliged to go back there to pass the remainder of her days seems too bad. The said man Sam’s father in law died since Aunt Cornelia has been there so she will not have him there to look at. Susie has four children,[24] and she is quite hard of hearing – they live about four miles south of her old home.

Well, you must be tired by this time, and I will give you a rest. Hoping to hear from you again telling me more news. With kind remembrances to your dear mother, and all the rest of the relatives. I am your anxiously awaiting cousin,


[written on top of first page]: Think probably you are back in Chicago by this time so will send this there.


[1] Based on a letter dated 10-02-1898 from Willis Brown to his mother, in which he writes, “I have thought many times that I would write to Pheenie Curtis in reply to her letter but have not done so yet,” it is presumed that this letter was directed to Willis Brown

[2] David Allen, who died December 2, 1849, while Josephine and her brothers, John and David, were small children

[3] His uncle, William Arms, who was the husband of Cynthia (Brown) Arms

[4] Matilda (Allen) Brown

[5] According to Matilda Brown’s death certificate (she died September 8, 1901), she had some degree of paralysis, due to a cerebral hemorrhage, for the last 10 years of her life

[6] She was living with Henry and Nancy (Keith) Brown

[7] Will’s brother, Henry Ambrose Brown

[8] Jane (Paddock) Allen

[9] Townley Hopkins

[10] Elisha Curtiss

[11] Harriette Curtiss

[12] Charles C. Allen died June 8, 1897

[13] Sidney Allen died November 3, 1880

[14] Harriet (Allen) Maxon (cemetery records list her as Myra Hannah Maxon) was the daughter of Charles and Harriet (Carpenter) Allen

[15] Harriet (Carpenter) Allen

[16] Ethel and Anne Maxon

[17] Adelbert Maxon

[18] She married Willard Richardson on October 16, 1900

[19] Cornelia (Hood) Allen, widow of Sidney Allen

[20] Susan (Allen) White

[21] Samuel Allen

[22] Charles White

[23] Believe she means Sam’s father-in-law, William Tinklepaugh, as further down in this letter she specifically states “Sam’s father in law.” He died June 6, 1898

[24] Claude, Grace, Allen and Cora White

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