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Joseph F. Curtis, Jr. Papers

 Collection — Box: MISC-09, Folder: MSS-0085
Identifier: MSS-0085

Content Description

The papers of Joseph Francis Curtis, Jr. document the activities of the Curtis family in their mining endeavors, primarily in California. The collection includes letters from Joseph Jr. to his brother Walter, a letter from Joseph Sr. to his son, and a letter from brother Bert Curtis. The collection also includes the naturalization papers of Joseph Francis Curtis, Sr. from 1872 after he emigrated to the U.S. from Great Britain. The Curtis Brothers Mining and Milling Co. consisted of W. Walter Curtis and J. Francis Curtis and worked at the Waterman Gold Mine at Angels Camp and Royal Consolidated Mines at Hodson. They seem to have a strong connection to Oregon and Calaveras County, California. The collection also includes one legal document from the mining company and an unidentified photograph of white, African American, and Latino men in an unspecified location, but presumably somewhere in California or Latin America.

The following information and partial transcription was provided by the seller:

"Most of the letters are addressed to Walter who is living at 225 So. American St., Stockton, California.
"Galice Oregon, Jan. 29th, 1908
Dear Bro. Walter and Family, You will wonder why I have not written before this time but I had rather a rough trip was delayed 20 hrs. on account of slides and washouts and stopped over about eight hours in Ashland…….I arrived in Merlin Friday night and after a lay over of one day we set out for the mine Sunday A.M. and on account of the Rogue River being so high we had to cross on a skiff……Say Walter, I had to break that ten spot before I got out here, do not know how I should have gotten along without it…..I heard from Lucile and Harold a couple of times since I left home. They are lonesome without me and you can bet I am pretty lonesome, worse than I have ever been…..the mill has not started yet but we hope to have it running tomorrow. I am at present in the Bunk House and having a hard time getting used to the board. I met our Aunt Mrs. Jordan, also her husband and children, two large girls and two small boys. This I think is rougher country than the Red Boy Mine. Lots of timber, also plenty of deer. A beautiful place in the summer but disagreeable winter…..Sincerely Your Bro, Joe, Galice Ore. % Gold Road Mine."
In the next letter, which contains 6 handwritten pages, there was also two typed pieces. One looks like a reference letter on J. F. behalf regarding the different places he's worked at and other references. This one typed document is dated January 18th, 1909 and references the Pacific Ore Testing Works, Barien Gold Mining Company in the Republic of Columbia South America (which might be where the photo was taken), and then two testaments showing Curtis's character from State Senator of California James D Byrnes. At the bottom of this document Curtis has written the following, "P. S. I have had Mill and Mining experience in Mexico, Alaska, Idaho, Washington and Oregon since Oct. 1901. J. F. Curtis Jr."
The second typed note found in the letter says this, "We, the undersigned, agree to advance one thousand (1,000) dollars to J. F. Curtis, to be used by him for prospecting for precious minerals in Mexico for which consideration we are to receive two-thirds interest in whatever property, or properties, the said J. F. Curtis may purchase, lease, or locate. (Then written it says) You can get a subscription blank something like the above and get your parties to sign it. Joe."
"439 S. Hope St. Los Angeles, Cal. April 19th, 1909
My Dear Brother and Sister, I should have written before now but neglected to do so, and I will try and write a little tonight. Harold and his mother are on the couch loving and making a lot of noise……I have been laid up a couple of days with a bilious attack, but survived…..I got some very good views while in So. Oregon and will send you some in the near future. I am out of a job just now but hope to go to work very soon. I had a telegram from a friend of mine asking me if I would take charge of a small mill and as the company in So. Oregon were getting behind with their pay day and had a very little ore in the mine, and the values in that so low they could not make expenses. I was glad to get a chance to leave. The store keeper in Galice, cashed my time and I was very glad to get home. It was about the worst job I ever had and the weather was so disagreeable all the time. I got a fine view of the Massie House the day I was there…….If you could get your parties in line to send me over to the Nevada prospects I would go right away, believe I could do some good over there. The place I was to go and may go yet, as the deal is still hanging fire, is in Ingo Co. above Keeler and one has to go across the upper end of Death Valley to get to the mine and a pretty rough place it is. No water, trees or grass, the only spring is nine miles from the mine and they figured on placing the little mill and Cyanide plant at the spring. Do you get any news from Nevada? Bert is anxious to get away from So. Oregon, think California a better place. They hope to sell the Hotel this spring and figure on having a few hundred dollars to put toward a home somewhere……I came thro S. F. (San Francisco) on my way down, was three hours in the city and it did look different than when I saw it last in 1901….With my camera and a good assay outfit I could, or should be able to make expenses in any good mining district. Don't you think?......I will enclose a copy of references so you may use it if necessary. A friend of mine told me that a number of years ago he got 10 young bank clerks in St. Louis to put up $25.00 each every month to send him to Mexico and although he knew nothing about mining he got hold of some good property and made them all rich…..Your affect. Bro. Joe." SCAN page 4 and 5 and typed page.
"Galice Oregon, March 21st, 1909
My Dear brother and sister,….I am expecting to be laid off any time during the next 30 days as we have not enough ore to keep 5 stamps busy for more than 30 days. And then the ore is low grade for a small mill and the kind of Cyanide plant they have is not capable of extracting all the valves. Had I know the ore was so scarce I would never have come so far away. I have applied for a position in a mill near Gold field Nevada that will start about the 1st of April. I was anxious to get settled where I could get enough ahead to pay what I owe, as I owe $250 borrowed money and then I have to keep Lucile and Harold going while I am getting square with the world. The Supt. of this mine is in the east and when he returns he may make me a proposition as they will have to do considerable development work…….About going to Nevada on a prospecting trip, will say, that I would like very much to go. I must first get out of debt and make arrangements for Lucile and Harold while I would be gone. I would want an assay outfit and believe that part of my expenses could be made by doing assaying on the side for prospectors. I could look into and sample any old tailings, or perhaps lease a mine or mill as Garraid did the Gold Cliff……Your affectionate Bro. Joe."
"Colton Cal., Nov. 3rd, 1909
Dear Bro. and Sister, I have been intending for a long time to write to you but am so busy and have been complaining so much, that I have not written to anyone. I have been almost laid up at times from the effects of the fall I received while in So. Oregon……It was either take treatments from a doctor or take chances of being laid up and I am not in a position to do that as I must keep well in order to provide for my family…..I had to refuse two good mining position this summer on account of not being able to do the work…..Still I have been rustling every day from house to house in town and country with my grip of Aluminum samples…..Just as soon as I can get out in some mining camp it would not take long to get ahead……Your affect. Bro, J. F. Curtis Box 566."
The letter after this one is written by brother Bert to Walter. Bert is in Merlin Oregon and talks about buying a few acres of land. His wife works in a hotel. This is a two page letter. Then there is a typed document from October 15, 1911 having to do with the Waterman Gold Mining and Milling Company. I've scanned this letter and it is signed by five people, J. F. Curtis being one of them. And then this final letter is to Joe from his father……
"Angels Camp. Nov. 7, 12'
My Dear Son Joe and family, I not having writing you some time hope you are all well. Now Joe we have had our ups and downs and rows and I want no sympathy or advice from anyone as if I make it well and good, if not old fool. Now I have not heard from King since Oct. 3rd. but it's been Election year. I know it's bad……He knows Angels, but not the mine. Now Joe I have had buyers of my bond but could do nothing unless what Mr. McDowels says of course. Kings time with me was up Nov. 1st for to raise 100,000 if not I told him in a letter after if he raised the purchase price of course he has done neither, but he has gold specimens and gold ore……"
I was going to quote from more of this letter as it's very interesting but he's rather illiterate and it takes some time to make it out. It seems to me that he and his son have not gotten along in the past as he keeps bringing that up and it also seems his mining business might be in trouble, but I'm not sure. He does sign the letter, "Love to all from your unfortunate father, J. F. Curtis Angels Camp Cala. (Calaveras) Co. Calif. P. S. We are all broke but lots of good faith." "


  • 1872-1912


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0.02 Cubic Feet (1 folder) : Correspondence; Photograph

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Custodial History

Purchased on ebay from seller diaries on September 22, 2016.

Joseph F. Curtis, Jr. Papers
Amy Schindler; Angela Kroeger
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Nebraska at Omaha Archives & Special Collections Repository

Archives & Special Collections
Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library
6001 Dodge St.
Omaha Nebraska 68182-0237 United States