The Family of Samuel Curtis and Bersheba Heflin

Samuel Curtis Bersheba Heflin

Samuel Rhodes Curtis, son of Henry, was born on February 23, 1841 in Kelly Township, Warren County, Illinois near Tylerville, Illinois which is presently known as Utah, Illinois. He died on March 13, 1910 at Audubon, Audubon, Iowa. His age at the time of his death was given as sixty-nine years, twenty days. It is interesting to note that, on his death certificate, Bersheba's name appears in the entry space for the name of Samuel's mother. He was buried on March 15, 1910 in Maple Grove Cemetery at Audubon.

From physical descriptions found in Samuel's military service records and his Civil War pension file, we know that he was about five feet eight inches in height, had a light complexion, grey or hazel eyes and dark hair.

On March 3, 1861, Samuel married at Monmouth, Warren, Illinois to Bersheba Heflin, daughter of James Crain Heflin and Osa Belle Anderson. In his Civil War pension file, Samuel states that he married on February 23, 1861. However, the Warren County marriage records and a marriage certificate found in Bershebas's widow's pension file confirms the date as March 3, 1861. Bersheba was born on June 20, 1843 at Rio, Knox, Illinois. She died on April 3, 1925 at Wood River, Hall, Nebraska at the home of her daughter, Grace Budd, née. She is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery at Audubon. She was known throughout her life as Birdie. On Bersheba's death certificate her name is spelt "Bersha" and the date of her birth is given as June 20, 1844. Her age at the time of her death was given as eighty years, nine months and ten days. This would indicate that she was born on June 23, 1844. Her obituary reported Bersheba's age as eighty-two.

Samuel Curtis' Homestead in Oklahoma Samuel Curtis and Bersheba Heflin

Samuel, at the age of twenty-two, enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War for a period of three years. He enlisted on August 9, 1862 and was given the rank of private-waggoner. He was mustered in on September 2, 1862 at Knoxville, Illinois. He was mustered out on June 6, 1865 near Washington, D.C. Samuel served in Company B, 102nd Regiment, Illinois Infantry Volunteers under Captain Elisha C. Atchinson. During his term of service, he was injured, crippling his left wrist and hand. From the various papers in Samuel's Civil War pension file we learned that

"in service and in the line of his duty at Galletin in the State of Tennessee on or about the --- day of February, 1863, he was kicked by a mule which he was hitching up to his wagon, he being a teamster, said mule kicked claimant on his left wrist breaking the bones thereof into fragments."

This occurred when

"the camp was suprised by Gen. Mogan (Rebel) and there was great excitement and the mules seemed to be as badly scared as the men."

A 1906 surgeon's certificate described Samuel's injury by saying he

"received injury by being kicked by mule in the left hand in December 1863 while in the service. The hand and wrist bones were then all broken, and the hand has been practically useless ever since. A sore disableing the right hand started two years ago, stiffening all joints, rendering hand and fingers useless."

The records of the war department furnished no evidence of Samuel's alleged injury. However, evidence from neighbors and the personnel physician of Lieut. Beswick provided the necessary proof of Samuel's injury. Among those testifying on his behalf was Marshall C. Heflin and his wife, Nancy A. Heflin, Christien Hack, Wm. H. Coon and Z.E. Jackson.

Samuel applied for and received a disability pension. This was $24 per month but was increased in $40 per month on March 2, 1903.

Upon Samuel's death, Bersheba applied for and was granted a widow's pension based on his service in the Union Army. A certificate of pension was issued on July 14, 1911. The pension file provides an interesting contradiction. In an application dated September 21, 1916 requesting an increase in the amount of her pension, Bersheba stated that she was seventy-four having been born on June 20, 1842. On October 12, 1916, in another application for increase of benefits, she stated that she was seventy-three having been born on June 20, 1843,

Although a 1906 surgeon's certificate gave his occupation as mechanic, Samuel was a farmer by profession. The full extend of his land holdings is not presently known. However, one item of interest should be noted. On August 9, 1901, Samuel filed a homestead claim for

"the northeast quarter of section twenty-one in township one south of range eleven, west of the Indian meridian in Oklahoma containing one hundred and sixty acres."

On January 10, 1902, he filed an affidavit that he had built a house on the abovementioned land. The house was described as a

"frame house 14 x 18 ft."

He apparently had sunk a well, cultivated approximately forty-five acres and fenced in 160 rods of land. The remaining portion of the parcel was described as

"praire, with some timber; suitable for farming & grazing"

On October 15, 1902, he proved his claim to the land and paid $1.25 per acre ($200.00). On January 14, 1903, the United States government deeded the land to Samuel. On September 14, 1903, Samuel and Bersheba sold the homestead in Oklahoma to John J. Davis for the sum of

"Twenty-five hundred and no dollars"

There were mortgages of $600.00 and $135.00 reportedly held by The Deming Investment Company.

Samuel and Bersheba had nine children.

  1. Ruby L. Curtis was born on February 1, 1863. She died on March 7, 1863.
  2. Annettie B. Curtis was born on January 10, 1867. She died on October 16, 1879.
  3. Simeon Cloyde Curtis was born on June 30, 1869 at Galesburg, Knox, Illinois. He died on November 9, 1939 at Elk Grove, Sacramento, California.
  4. Henry R. Curtis was born on June 4, 1872. He died on October 11, 1874. He is buried in Graceland Cemetery at Avoca, Pottawattamie, Iowa. A transcription of his tombstone reports that Henry died on October 24, 1879 at the age of one year, four months and twenty days.
  5. Clark Curtis was born on October 8, 1874. He died on October 22, 1874. A transcription of his tombstone reports that Clark died on November 19, 1874 at the age of sixteen days. He is buried in Graceland Cemetery at Avoca, Iowa.
  6. Grace Curtis was born on September 4, 1876 at Avoca, Pottawattamie, Iowa. She died on January 23, 1928 at Wood River, Hall, Nebraska.
  7. Ned Curtis was born on September 19, 1878 at Little Rock, Pulaski, Arkansas. He died on April 10, 1949 at Nickerson, Dodge, Nebraska.
  8. Robert Hart Curtis was born on March 23, 1880 at Avoca. He died on December 12, 1955 at Audubon.
  9. George P. Curtis was born on June 18, 1883. He died in May 1885.


  1. The following United States federal census for:
  2. The following Iowa State census:
  3. Civil War service records and pension file for Samuel R. Curtis.
  4. Civil War widow's pension file for Bersheba Curtis, nee Heflin.
  5. Obituaries for:
  6. Death certificates for:
  7. Certificate of Record of Marriage for Samuel R. Curtis and Bersheba (Birdie) Heflin.
  8. Research by:
  9. Records of:
  10. Letter dated February8, 1985 from Woodford Agee Heflin.
  11. Land records of:
  12. Homestead papers of Samuel R. Curtis.
  13. Adjutant General's Report, State of Illinois, History of the 102nd Infantry.
  14. WPA - Work Projects Administration 1930's Graves Registration Survey as fund at

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Written and Edited by Harry Gruss.
Revised February 18, 2011.

My thanks to Sharon Alexander for the pictures that appear on this page.

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