Samuel & Nancy (Petty) Curtis Family Biography

Samuel & Nancy (Petty) Curtis Family

Samuel Curtis was born on Thursday, January 2, 1817 in Tennessee.  He was a son of Nathaniel Curtis, Jr. and his wife, Susannah "Susan" Curtis.  Samuel's parents were first cousins, so both his grandfathers were brothers--Nathaniel Curtis, Sr. and Samuel Curtis, Sr.--and they both fought in the American Revolutionary War.  Nathaniel Curtis, Sr. was killed in the war in 1780 in a skirmish on the Pee Dee River in South Carolina, but Samuel's namesake grandfather lived into his mid-90s.

Samuel Curtis lived in Tennessee as a young child, and later his family moved back to Marengo County, Alabama where Samuel's parents had lived before he was born.  There Samuel grew up as a farmer and later became a medical doctor as did his younger brother Charles Roe Curtis (1825-1868)By 1848 at the time his father's death, Samuel was living in Scott County, Mississippi.

On April 2, 1850 at the age of 33 Samuel Curtis married Nancy Petty, age 17.  She was a daughter of Thomas Moore Petty and Louisa Whyte (Roberts) Petty.  Nancy was born on July 17, 1833 near Hillsboro in Scott County, Mississippi.  The Petty and Roberts families were quite affluent families in Mississippi during the early-to-mid 1800's.  Nancy's father was a wealthy plantation owner, and her grandfather, Robert Whyte Roberts, besides being a plantation owner was also a political leader, having held the office of Congressman for the State of Mississippi.

After Samuel and Nancy married they lived with her parents on their plantation for awhile, where they farmed and Samuel practiced medicine. 

According to Samuel & Nancy's great-granddaughter, Lillie Bell (Stanbery) Heddins, when Tom & Louisa Petty's children got married they gave them 7 to 9 negro slaves as wedding gifts. So Samuel & Nancy started off farming with a good work force, and then in the summer of 1852 when Samuel's mother died, the slaves she and Nathaniel had owned were divided up among their grown children. Nathaniel's will names eight slaves to be divided among the seven grown children, so Samuel & Nancy inherited at least one additional slave.

Samuel & Nancy Curtis' first child was born in about 1851. She was named Alicion ("Lec"), and about a year later a little boy was born whom they named Thomas after his grandfather.

On April 6, 1852, Samuel purchased a lot in the town of Hillsboro, Mississippi (Lot no. 8 in Square no. 8), for $28.50 from M. P. Holman, President of the Board of Police.  At that time the town of Hillsboro was the county seat of Scott County, and it was a thriving community.  Samuel, Nancy and their small family may have moved to town at that time and lived there for a while.  Samuel probably solely worked as a medical doctor, doing house calls in and around Hillsboro.  Then on November 22, 1853, Samuel and Nancy Curtis sold their property in Hillsboro to H. E. Chambers for the amount of $40.00.

In about 1855 Nancy gave birth to another child and she was named Louisa after her grandmother. About three years later little Emma Curtis was born to Samuel and Nancy.

On March 5, 1859, Samuel Curtis purchased 129.76 acres of land for $276.82 from the executors of the estate of Charles Gascoigne, deceased.  The land was located about five miles northeast of the town of Hillsboro, exactly between Hillsboro and what is now Sebastapol, in Section 25 of Township 8 North, Range 9 East.  It was apparently there that Samuel and Nancy built their plantation home.  Later that year, on September 17, Samuel sold the east half of that property to his father-in-law, Thomas M. Petty for $138.41.  Samuel also acquired another section of land just north of his plantation, amounting to about 75 acres.


Samuel and Nancy were off to a good start, for according to the 1860 Scott County census, they had four children, and the value of their land was $1000.00.  The value of their personal estate was $2500.00, making the total value of their estate $3500.00 in 1860.  They were wealthy farmers and owned several slaves to work in the fields where they primarily grew cotton.

On September 3, 1860, Samuel Curtis sold his entire plantation to James B. Chester for $1297.50.  Shortly thereafter, Samuel and his family moved to northern Louisiana.  There, according to family stories passed down, they continued to grow cotton and owned a cotton gin, operated by their slaves.  Samuel also continued working as a medical doctor.

On May 31, 1862, Samuel and Nancy had a son whom they named Samuel Benton Curtis.  He was born there in northern Louisiana on their plantation, and was named after his father and after his uncle, Benton Petty.

As an old man, Samuel Benton Curtis related an event from his early childhood to his granddaughter, Lillie Bell Stanbery.  Sometime toward the end of the Civil War, probably in 1865, the Curtis family slaves were working at the cotton gin on their plantation when suddenly and without warning a cold norther blew in, and the temperature began dropping rapidly.  The scantly dressed slaves became cold and were shivering, yet they continued to work.  It was not long, however, before they were brought in out of the cold and given more clothing.  Young Sam felt sorry for the slaves.  Not long after that, the Civil War came to an end and the slaves were freed.

It was apparently after the war ended that the Curtis family moved back to Mississippi. In 1866, there is record that Dr. Samuel Curtis became indebted to a Mr. M. D. Graham for $50.00, so an indenture was made whereby Samuel mortgaged 80 acres of land located northeast of Hillsboro (Section 31) to Mr. Graham.  This indenture was made on May 18, 1866 and on December 7, 1868 it was cancelled, for Samuel had paid off his debt.

Also in 1866, on September 18th, Samuel Curtis sold 75 acres of land to his brother-in-law, Andrew J. Petty, for $180.00.  The land was located northwest of Hillsboro, Mississippi in Section 24.


On December 16, 1968, Nancy gave birth to their last child. She was named Eugenia Curtis.

Samuel & Nancy Curtis and their six children were listed in the Newton County, Mississippi federal census in 1870 living in or near the town of Newton. Samuel was listed as a farmer.

Samuel died just over four years later on August 17, 1874. Family tradition has it that he died of pneumonia which he contracted from going out in the cold weather to doctor the sick.  Unless he had pneumonia for several months, that's not likely since he died in August.

Within five years Nancy and her six children moved west to Anderson County, Texas and settled around Beaver Valley, north of Palestine.  In 1880, an early settler named Tobe Hamlett changed the name Beaver Valley to Montalba, meaning "white mountain."

On July 23, 1879, Nancy Curtis married William Johns Hamlett, Sr., in Anderson County, Texas.  Nancy was a 57 years old widow, and William was a 60 year old widower, born in 1815 in Virginia.  William, Nancy and their children lived near Montalba, Texas until 1891 when William died at the age of 76, leaving Nancy widowed a second time at about age 58.

By 1900, Nancy was living with her oldest daughter, Alexin ("Lec"), her husband, William Dean and their five children in Anderson County's Precinct 5.

Nancy Hamlett lived to be nearly 93 years old.  At the time of her death, she was blind and very feeble.  She died on March 4, 1926 and was buried at Holly Springs Cemetery in the Holly Springs Community, east of Montalba in Anderson County, Texas.


This biography was compiled and written by Roland J. Heddins, copyright 2000 (edited 2014). As further details are discovered, this biography will be updated. If you have any details to add or correct, please email me. Please give credit and/or reference this webpage link if re-publishing this biography. Thank you. -RJH


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