Edward Curran, a life-long citizen of Utica, was not only a prominent business man, but also a public benefactor whose memory will forever illuminate local annals and shed its wholesome influence upon coming generations. His paternal grandfather, Henry Curran, was born in Millnisgay, Ireland, the youngest child of Dennis and Ann (Weldon) Curran, and was reared and bred a tanner. About 1780 he married Ann Kelly in his native village, and some years later emigrated to America, purchasing an unbroken farm in Williamstown, Oswego County, N. Y., and settling thereon about the year 1800. There his son Edward, father of the subject of this memoir, was born November 10, 1803. The country then was an almost unbroken wilderness, and after several years of persistent toil and no little adversity incident to frontier life the family removed to Lansingburg, N. Y., where during the next years their fortunes were retrieved. Thence they returned to the original farm in Williamstown, where the pioneer Henry died August 20, 1860, aged nearly 100. He was a member of the Methodist church and lived a consistent Christian gentleman. He had ten children, of whom Edward sr., was the youngest. The latter learned the trade of tanner and currier in Waterford, Saratoga County, and when nineteen came to Utica as foreman in charge of the large tannery of David P. Hoyt, where he remained several years. In 1829 he formed a co-partnership with Hon. Alrick Hubbell and commenced business for himself. The firm of Hubbell & Curran continued successfully as dealers in hides and leather until March 1, 1855, when Mr. Curran purchased his partnerís interest and carried on the establishment until his death on June 27, 1856. Edward Curran sr. married first, Amanda Minerva Hamilton Bartlett, daughter of Robert and Esther (Reed) Bartlett, who was born in Boston, Mass., January 13, 1807, and who died in Utica December 31, 1837. They had five children; Celia Frances, born April 26, 1829; Charles Carroll, born October 9, 1830; died September 9, 1858; Amanda Maria, born February 1, 1833, died November 13, 1838; Edward, the subject of this sketch; and Horatio Bartlett, born October 2, 1837. Mr. Curran married, second, May 7, 1839, Mary, daughter of George and Chloe (Sweeting) Langford, and a native of Westmoreland, Oneida County. Their children were George Langford, born March 10, 1840; of Utica; Henry Hastings, born September 27, 1841, who left Hamilton college in 1861 to enlist in the 146th N. Y. Vols., was commissioned lieutenant-colonel, and was killed at the battle of the Wilderness May 5, 1864; Philip Clinton born June 28, 1843, who in August, 1861, after completing his sophomore year in college, enlisted as sergeant in Co. B, 146th N. Y. Cols., was discharged because of ill health March 11, 1863; and died in Utica December 17, 1877; Mary Langford, born March 9, 1846; and John Elliott, born May 25, 1848, who became a magazine writer of considerable note, and died in Englewood, N. J. May 18, 1890.
Edward Curran, the fourth of the five children of Edward and Amanda M. H. (Bartlett) Curran, was born in Utica, N. Y., February 25, 1835, his fatherís home at that time being on Main street, near the site of the present New York Central depot. His education was obtained in the advanced school and academy of the city, at the De Lancey Institute in Hampton, and at the Ellington (Conn.) Academy. On leaving the latter institution he entered Hamilton College, from which he was graduated with high honors, and with membership in Alpha Delta Phi, in 1856. It was his intention to enter the ministry, for which he was peculiarly fitted by nature, but the death of his father immediately after his graduation materially changed his plans. The old hide and leather business founded by Edward Sr., in 1829 was at this time carried on under the firm name of Curran & Son, the junior partner being Charles C. Upon his fatherís death Mr. Curran went into the store, forming the firm of Edward Curranís Sons, a name that has ever since been retained. After the death of Charles C. in 1858 another brother, George L., succeeded him and still continues the business. The house has always handled hides, leather and shoemakersí findings. It is one of the oldest and best known in the State, and among the most interesting landmarks of the city. Its business operations have from the first extended not only throughout New York, but into adjoining States and the West, and to the various details Mr. Curran brought an intimate knowledge, rare executive ability, and great energy. In his dealings he won universal confidence and respect, and was always regarded as a man of the strictest integrity and uprightness of purpose.
But it was outside of his commercial relations and among the people of his native city that Mr. Curran left the most indelible impression of his true character and manly worth. He was best known and appreciated by those who were the least aware of his private business affairs, for in these he was largely brought into contact with men at a distance. At home he was pre-eminently a public benefactor, taking a lively and an active interest in all important projects which promised general advancement and permanent good. He was a stockholder and director in the First National Bank and from 1888 until his death its vice-president, and was also a trustee of the Utica Savings Bank and a member of its executive committee. In all these capacities he manifested a rare knowledge of financial affairs and ably assisted in directing them.
Mr. Curran was the founder of the Homestead Aid Association of Utica, one of the largest and most successful organizations in the country for the benefit of the local wage-earner and home-builder. The idea of developing this field was suggested to him by F. Leroy Smith, who was familiar with its operations in other eastern cities, but the inception, maintenance, and success were due to his indomitable efforts and sagacious management. He was its father, its prime mover, and its watchful guardian, and upon him during the first ten years of its existence devolved by the heaviest duties and proper direction. To its development he devoted his best efforts, and that they were entirely unselfish is evidenced by the facto that they were without remuneration or hope of reward other than that which came from doing good. In its interests he labored early and late; he was its staunchest champion; his advice and counsel guided its affairs and the actions of his associates; and often he advanced payments for worthy men who through misfortune were unable to make them themselves. The association was organized by himself and others in February. 1884, and he served as its president from that time until his death, performing much of its detail work, and conscientiously guarding its ever growing interests. He contributed numerous articles in its behalf to local newspapers which were widely copied by journals devoted to savings and loan organizations. The association has now an invested capital of $700,000, and during its career has proved inestimably valuable to many small property owners. In the prayers that have gone up from the large number of little homes which this noble manís labor builded there is a volume of unwritten gratitude and reverence, which in the hearts of those benefited is a living monument to the memory of the associationís founder.
It was one of Mr. Curranís chief ambitions to make others happy. To the poor and unfortunate he unostentatiously gave liberally and cheerfully of his not over abundant means, and in this respect no man enjoyed a brighter record. He was well known for his charitable acts, an equally well known for his kindness, consideration and good deeds. He was a wise giver, possessing a keen discrimination between the worthy and unworthy. In 1880 he was elected a charity commissioner, an office to which he three times re-elected, and served with signal ability and universal satisfaction. In this capacity he resolutely stood for economy, but as firmly for justice and right. He was one of the founders and president of the Utica Free Dispensary, one of the first officers of Faxton Hospital, and secretary of the Home for the Homeless at the time of his death. He was also a member of the advisory board of the Womanís Christian Association, and the first president of the Young Menís Christian Association, with which he was long actively and prominently identified. During the early history of the last named institution he was not only its guiding officer, but one of its chief and most liberal supporters. Mr. Curran was always fond of athletic sports, and at one time the firm established on the top floor of their place of business a finely appointed gymnasium, where they were wont to admit schoolboys in considerable numbers, and where he often participated in their exercises with the keenest enjoyment. He was a member and for several years an elder of Westminster Presbyterian church, and was actively interested in its Sunday school. His devotion to church work was akin to that displayed in the interests of charity, and his influence in body was of the purest, noblest, and most elevating character. He was one of natureís noblemen, a man whose Christian spirit spoke in his deed and action- a model citizen, a kind, affectionate husband, and an indulgent yet firm father.
In politics he was a staunch Republican, but steadfastly refused to accepted political office. Without his solicitation he was often urged to go upon his partyís ticket, particularly for mayor of Utica, but he invariably declined. He was appointed by Governor Cleveland and confirmed by the Senate without opposition as one of the trustees of the Utica State Hospital, but declined the honor on account of other duties. In 1884 he was appointed a member of the board of civil service examiners at Utica. He was a member of the Oneida Historical Society and on June 6, 1890, was elected a member of Epsilon Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa of Hamilton College. He died in Utica, where he had spent his entire life, on the 4th of June, 1894, widely mourned and universally respected. His remains were interred in the family lot in Forest Hill Cemetery. Touching resolutions, glowing tributes to his memory, were passed by every organization with which he had been connected, and in addition scores of letters were received by the family from persons all over the country, each bearing a tender encomium of his rare worth and high personal character.
Mr. Curran was married on October 20, 1864, to Miss Lucy Helen Doolittle, who was born in Utica October 26, 1836, and who survives him. Her father, Charles R. Doolittle, was born in Whitestown, August 4, 1799, and died in Utica October 9,1841. General George Doolittle, father of Charles R., was born in Wallingford, Conn., June 13, 1750. Her mother, whose maiden name was Abigail Pickard Obear, was born in Beverley, Mass., March 26, 1811, and died in Utica July 27, 1890. Mr. and Mrs. Curranís wedded life was peculiarly a happy one. Their home was the center of tenderness, affection, and Christian influence, and from its sacred precints radiated those virtues which elevate and inspire men to noble action. They were the parents of two son: Richard Langford Curran, born September 26, 1865, who is engaged in the general advertising business in New York City; and Sherwood Spencer Curran, born September 12, 1867, who is secretary of the Homestead Aid Association of Utica, succeeding William P. Carpenter on the latterís death in May, 1895.
Pages 71-74 (Contributed by Linda)