Josiah Curtis

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Question: How old was Josiah Curtis when he served in the Mormon Battalion in 1846?

Answer: Josiah Curtis was born 5 August 1830 in Sheridan, Chautaugua County, New York, to Thomas Curtis and Percy Baldwin. In 1831, shortly after Josiah Curtis' birth, his parents joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and moved to Kirkland, Lake County, Ohio.

Thomas, Josiah’s father helped build the Kirkland Temple, and Josiah spent the early part of his childhood watching the construction of the temple. The Kirkland High Council Minute Book, page 26, confirms that Thomas Curtis gave the opening prayer at the Kirkland Temple Dedication on the 26th day of March 1836.

Josiah grew up under all the hardships that accompanied the Church migrations. In 1838, the family migrated westward to Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri, where Josiah was baptized. His father did not baptize him, as Thomas Curtis was poisoned near Huntsville, Randolph County, Missouri while traveling from Kirtland to Far West. Josiah was forced to leave with his mother and siblings to Illinois during the winter of 1838-1839 due to the persecution.

Josiah’s mother, Percy (Baldwin) Curtis, married second Edward Johnson, a widower with two children, in Adams County, Illinois, and they moved to Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois where Josiah’s boyhood was spent. Josiah grew up on a farm near Nauvoo. On 27 June 1844 Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred. The Curtis family was close to Joseph and Emma Smith and keep close associations with Emma after Joseph Smith's death. Josiah brought the last letter Joseph Smith wrote to Emma from the Carthage Jail to Emma in Nauvoo. His sister Lucinda consoled Emma when she heard the news of Joseph Smith’s death.

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When the Mormons went west from Nauvoo in 1846, Josiah’s mother and stepfather went with them. Josiah joined the famous Mormon Battalion when it was formed at Council Bluffs, Iowa, to fight in the Mexican War. He was the youngest member, just fifteen years old, and mustered on the 16th day of July 1846. He was a private in Captain Jefferson Hunt’s Company A. This battalion made the longest continuous military march in history. Josiah was sent back to Pueblo, Colorado in the Sick Detachment where they spent the winter. Josiah was mustered out one year later in Salt Lake City in July 1847. They were grateful they did not have to go on to California.

Josiah helped construct the first buildings in Salt Lake City. Josiah thought his family would be in Salt Lake City, but he found that few people had made the trip west yet from Winter Quarters, Nebraska. He headed east to find his family. Josiah’s mother and stepfather were living in St. Joseph, Missouri. For some reason, Josiah’s mother Percy and her husband did not go on West with the Church. They had joined the Thompsonite faction. A sister, Lucinda Ellen Curtis Flanders also joined that group. Josiah’s brother Samuel went on west to live in Utah and remained in the LDS Church. Josiah and Samuel kept in contact the remainder of their lives.

When Josiah came back from Utah, he settled with his sister, Lucinda Ellen Curtis Flanders in Washington Township, Buchanan County, Missouri. There he met Mary Ann Estes who was visiting her aunt and uncle. Josiah Curtis married Mary Ann Estes the 11th day of April 1850 at Saint Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri. Mary Ann was born 25 August 1825 in Alabama, to Hickman Estes and Martha Polly Renne. They had ten children together.

During the Civil War, Mary Ann (Estes) Curtis’ father and mother moved to Grayson County, Texas. In 1861, Josiah served in the Civil War in the Missouri Home Guards. In 1868, Josiah and Mary Ann Curtis' moved to Grayson County, Texas to care for her father, as her mother had died by 1868. They stayed until Hickman Estes died in 1873. They then moved back to Missouri to take care of Josiah's mother, Percy Curtis Johnson. She died at Josiah’s home.

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Josiah decided to settle on a farm near Maysville, Missouri. He joined the RLDS Church on 28th of December 1874, in Sedalia, Pettis County, Missouri and was baptized by Alexander Jasper Cato.

Mary died 26 August 1909 in Independence. Josiah died 28 December 1910 in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, and both were buried in the Mound Grove Cemetery in Independence.

Source: Account taken from personal family papers of Thomas Curtis, in his son Josiah Curtis’ family trunk and “Persis Life Story,” FamilySearch.org; Mary Ann Estes Story; FindAGrave.com