Friday, July 30, 2010

Nahum Curtis


Birth: 7 July 1784 in New Salem, Franklin, Massachusetts, USA

Death: 9 March 1846 in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USA

Born to Moses Curtis (1747-1818) and Mary Mecham (or Meachem) (1746-about 1820), Nahum was raised with many siblings in New Salem, Massachusetts.

On 29 October 1809, Nahum married Millicent Waite (1787-1838) in New Salem, Massachusetts before moving to Pennsylvania in about 1815, where they began having children.

Nahum and Millicent had ten children together: Phineus Curtis (died as a child), Lyman Curtis, George Curtis, Sophronia Curtis, Moses Curtis, Foster Curtis, Loren (or Laren or Leon) Curtis (died as a child), Mary Curtis, Hyrum Curtis and Joseph Curtis.

In about 1822, the family moved to Michigan near Sylvan Lake. Here they hunted and fished year round, providing them with plenty of food. Nahum came to acquire land in the area, as the below documents show.

Nahum Curtis' Land

Nahum Curtis' Land Patent

Nahum Curtis' Land

In 1833, when Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris came to the area and held meetings about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their revelatory experiences, the Curtis family attended. Within the same year, after receiving a confirmation that what these men were saying was true, Nahum, Millicent and their children that were of age, were baptized and joined the church, becoming members of the Pontiac Branch. 

Later in 1833, Nahum sold his Michigan homestead for $800 (this was his family’s entire wealth) and donated $325 to the Saints in Missouri.

Soon, the family moved to Missouri with the other Michigan members of the church.

Soon after his wife died in 1838, Nahum’s house was designated as a safe house for members of the church to gather and store supplies in times of trouble:

“On the 4th of September, 1838 word came for Nahum and the older brothers to go and guard the brethren from the mob. The Prophet sent word for families to gather together in places he would appoint, and for them to take their grain where it would be safe. Nahum's house was appointed as one of the gathering places. Most of the young men were gone on duties but there were older men and a lot of women and children. The floor was covered with beds. On the night of the surrender and Haun's Mill Massacre some of the young men slipped away and returned to Nahum's home with the report. It gave everyone a great scare. The next day their neighbor, a Missourian who lived a mile away, came and told them what the mob told him, and what they had done. They asked about their settlement, but he directed them on the other road and told them there was no one at Nahum's house but women and children. The Prophet had promised them that they would be safe there. Levi Jackman, who was also living near the Curtis family would not be comforted. Even though he could scarcely ride, he had his son take him into Far West to see the Prophet. When asked if they would be safe Joseph Smith told him, ‘Yes. You will not be disturbed, but be wise, and the men should not be seen around.’”

The next year, Nahum packed up his family and moved across the Mississippi River to get away from the mobs, and assisted other poorer families in doing the same. Eventually the family moved to Warsaw, Illinois where everyone in the family worked for whatever money they could.

It was here that Nahum married his second wife Delia Byam Reed (or Read). While they did not have any children together, she had seven children from a previous marriage. They were married on 29 October 1839.

While living in Warsaw, Illinois, Nahum obtained property in Nauvoo where he worked hard to build a livable home while still keeping up work on his Warsaw farm. Not long after this, the family moved there.

In Nauvoo, Nahum and his sons worked on the temple by polishing the stones that would be used to build it.

Grave Site of Nahum Curtis


Nahum died on 9 March 1846 upon returning to Nauvoo, Illinois after attempting the trek west and falling ill in Iowa.


  1. Thank you for this post. I am a descendent of Nahum Curtis (through his son Foster) trying to learn more about my forebearers. Blogs like this are wonderful. I especially appreciate the pictures of official documents and the gravestone.

  2. Thank you so much for this blog. My son needed stories of his ancestors who first joined the church. I have always searched for Lyman Curtis stories but not Nahum his father. You are wonderful with all the documents and I love how well the grave stone looks. Thank you to whomever keeps that up!

  3. God Bless you for your efforts. I am a descendant of Nahum through his son Foster, and his grandson Eli Nephi Bemis Curtis. I very much appreciate your source information. It is becoming more and more important to know where information is coming from.
    Again thank you so much. Harold

  4. Thank you for putting this together. I'm a descendant of Nahum Curtis and Millicent Waite through their son George Curtis. So Nahum would be my great-great-great-great grandfather. I was asked this week to share at our ward's Christmas breakfast tomorrow morning what Christmas was like in Nauvoo. I'm planning on dressing up as Nahum Curtis while I share my findings to the members of my ward.