Abram Whitaker Currie




Abram Whitaker Currie, 1838-1889



Born in Madison County, Mississippi, on March 18, 1838 to William Cromartie Currie and Adeline Whitaker.

In 1847, William Currie bought land in northeast Louisiana, near the Mississippi, and the family moved onto it soon afterward. William and Adeline had two surviving children--Abe, and little Huldah Amanda Divine Currie, born in Louisiana on June 6, 1848.

In 1849, when Abe was 11 and Huldah barely a year old, their mother died. The next year, William Currie married a neighboring widow, Hester Ann "Nancy" Selser Richards. She had three surviving children by her first marriage to George Richards: George S., Sue, and Mary.

Abe's father and new stepmother had more children together: Howard Cromarty, Kate S., Sybelia Antoinette, Leila Ada, and Annie Eliza. The house was full of children, and as in other wealthy plantation families, the Currie children had their own teacher.

Abe married Delia Selser on April 5, 1860, and entered the practice of law. Delia was Nancy Currie's younger sister. On the 1860 census their address was listed at Floyd.

When war broke out, Abram enlisted in the 3rd Louisiana Infantry, Company H. His address was listed on his service record as Houston County, TX.

Over the next four years he was promoted to Lieutenant and then Captain. He was captured on July 4, 1863, at the fall of Vicksburg. On July 8th, he signed the standard oath that he would not take up arms again against the United States again until "duly exchanged by the proper authorities."

Abe could probably see his family's land across the river from Vicksburg's high bluffs, and must have been heartbroken to think of what had happened there: his family had fled to Texas, the plantation was overgrown and flooded, the house had been looted and burned.

After the war, Abe lived in Texas. (I have not been able to find out much yet about this period.) He divorced his wife Delia on16 February, 1871, in Washington County, Texas. He obtained a passport on May 20, 1878, and in July he sailed to Brazil with his aunt Jennie Whitaker, wife of his mother's brother Orville Whitaker.

Many thousands of Southerners went to Brazil and other countries after the war to start a new life. (If you don't know about this fascinating part of American history, see the bottom of this page for bibliography.)

In December, 1878, Abe married his second wife, Helen Paulina Damm, in Santa Barbara d'Oeste, Brazil. Helen was the daughter of prominent citizens of Santa Barbara, blacksmith John Damm and his wife Augusta Bohnee Damm. John and Augusta were both born in Germany and settled in Grimes County. They emigrated to Brazil in 1868.

When they were first married Abe and Helen lived with her parents. Later they got their own home. Abe opened a shop where he sold dry goods, groceries, and iron tools.

Abe and Helen had three sons: Bruce, Bertie, and Von Rehder, born in 1880, 1882, and 1884. Abe died in 1889, at age 51. Cause was listed as both "torpidity of the liver" and "cardiac arrest". He is buried at Campo, the Confederate cemetery and meeting ground near Santa Barbara.

Helen stayed in Brazil until her father John Damm died in 1900; he too is buried at Campo. Helen sold her property in Brazil and returned to Texas via New York. Her mother Augusta Damm, now also a widow, came back to Texas with her. She died at home on December12, 1906 in Decatur, Texas, and is buried at Oaklawn Cemetery.

Helen settled in Cleburne, Johnson County. Bertie (who now went by Albert) attended Texas A & M and studied mechanical engineering for three years; he did not finish his degree but went to work for the new Texas Company, as did Von Rehder. The company soon became Texaco. Von Rehder worked as secretary to the Vice President, and Albert was a draftsman and began his career by mapping Indian lands. Von Rehder entered a contest to create a logo for the new company; he designed it and had Bert draw it. Their design, the Texaco Star, is recognized around the world.

Bruce never married and continued to live with his mother. He in January of 1937, a few days after being hit by a car in Port Arthur, Texas.

Von Rehder apparently died of a heart attack at his fishing camp in 1940. His mother Helen Damm Currie died 7 August, 1940 in Houston.

Vic's widow, Clara Currie, died intestate on 10 September, 1960 in Houston. An enormous scandal ensued when it was discovered that the appointed probate attorney and the probate judge were in cahoots and had amassed considerable personal financial gain by deliberately mishandling this and other intestate cases. Many of the possessions Clara had long promised to various family members were never seen again. We can only wonder what family treasures were lost. Please, make a will!

For more on John and Augusta DAMM, go here.

Bibliography for study of the Currie family, the 3rd Louisiana Infantry and the Confederados:

Anderson, John Q. , ed.,Brokenburn: the Journal of Kate Stone, 1861-1868. Louisiana State University Press,1972. Note: This excellent and fascinating diary contains many references to the Currie family, who were neighbors of the Stones. Kate Stone was a bright, witty and observant young woman and this is fantastic reading about what life was like for these Southerners, including their sojourn as refugees in Texas during the war and their return to Louisiana afterward. Highly recommended!

Dawsey, Cyrus B. & James M. Dawsey, ed.,The Confederados: Old South Immigrants in Brazil. The University of Alabama Press, 1995.

Harter, Eugene C.,The Lost Colony of the Confederacy. University Press of Mississippi, 1985.

Jones, Judith MacKnight, Soldado Descansa! uma epopéia norte americana sob os céus do Brasil, 1967.
Yes, it's in Portuguese; if you're good at Spanish, you can decipher a lot of it. Otherwise use an online or human translator to do the relevant parts. Perhaps someday someone will translate this thorough history of the Confederados into English. You can order it online when you visit the Confederado website here. This is the website of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Camp #1653 "Os Confederados" and the Fraternidade Descendência Americana, the organization of descendants of the Confederados. It's in English and Portuguese.

Tunnard, W.H., A Southern Record: The History of the Third Regiment Louisiana Infantry, University of Arkansas Press, 1997. A play-by-play; contains several references to Capt. Abram Whitaker Currie. Written in the somewhat formal style of 1868.