HENRY CLAY CURTIS. This valued business man and citizen of Carbondale,
who is now the mayor of the city, is a gentleman of broad views, much
enterprise and highly commendable and serviceable achievements. The fact
that he has confined his efforts in the domain of industrial promotion to
the one line of endeavor in which he was trained in youth and early manhood
has enabled him to attain a higher measure and more considerable degree of
success than he might otherwise have reached, but he has capacity and
impelling power that would have brought good results in any line of action
to which they might have been devoted with the zeal and industry that have
always characterized him.
Mr. Curtis was born in St. Clair county, Illinois, on December 5, 1859. and is a son of James A. and Mary H. (Land) Curtis, who moved to Warrensburg, Missouri, a number of years ago. The father was a native of Alsace-Lorraine and the mother was of Southern birth. The son received his education in the public schools and at the Illinois State University. After leaving that institution he learned the trade of flour milling, and after completing his apprenticeship worked for six years in a mill at Marissa, which was one of the first roller mills in Southern Illinois. From Marissa he came to Ava in this county, and there he remained employed in a mill twelve years.
In 1900 he moved to Carbondale, organized the Carbondale Mill and Elevator Company, and built its plant. He is president and general manager of the company and very active in pushing its business, which has grown to large extension under the impulse of his stimulating and energetic control. The mill has a capacity of two hundred barrels of flour a day, and the elevator has storage capacity for forty-five thousand bushels' of grain. In addition to this plant the company has an elevator at McClure, Alexander county, with a capacity of twenty thousand bushels, and buys on an average five hundred thousand bushels a year. It employs regularly twenty-five men, and at times several more.
Mr. Curtis has been incessant in his devotion to the welfare and progress of Carbondale since he became a resident of the city. His interest in it has given him high standing with the citizens, and they have not been slow to call his ability into the public service for their benefit. He has done good work for the community as a member of the city council, and in April, 1911, he was elected mayor, the people having found their faith in him fully justified by his course in the lower municipal office. Neither are they disappointed in his work as mayor. Every interest of the city is carefully looked after by him in his official capacity, and every element of progress and development is vigorously employed in pushing forward the advance of the municipality along lines of wholesome growth and improvement.
In politics Mr. Curtis is a firm and faithful Democrat, and one of the influential and effective workers for the good of his party. He is recognized as wise in counsel and energetic in action for its benefit, and is regarded as one of its strongest and most capable members in the county. He is also a Prohibitionist in theory and practice, ardently desirous of the total elimination of the liquor traffic, but yet not willing to sacrifice every other substantial advantage in government for the sake of that one reform, however strongly he may feel that it is needed.
On June 25, 1883, he was married to Miss Katharine Curry of Marissa, this state, a daughter of James Curry. Three children have been born of the union, and all of them are living: Fay, the wife of J. G. Bellamy, of Pomona, Illinois, who is a merchant; Harry Clark, a traveling salesman for his father's company; and Edward Earl, who is its assistant manager. Mr. and Mrs. Bellamy have a son named Curtis and a daughter named Kathleen. The younger son, Edward Earl Curtis, is also married. He chose as his wife Miss Beulah Strohman, of Carbondale, a daughter of Otto Strohman, a prominent farmer of Jackson county and classed among its most useful and respected citizens. They have one child, Edward Earl Curtis, Jr.
Mr. Curtis is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and his wife and children also attend its services regularly. He is on the advisory or official board of the congregation to which he belongs, and takes a leading part in all the work of the local organization. In fraternal relations he is an enthusiastic adherent of the Masonic order. He has his family, what is left of it, under his own roof-tree, are pleasantly established in the former home of that once gallant Union general and influential United States senator, the late Hon. John A. Logan. He purchased the property because of its value and adaptability to his needs, but its historical character is also pleasing to him and the hosts of friends of the family who frequent it and always find it bright with intellectual and social culture and warm with genuine and unaffected hospitality.
Extracted 15 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 672-673.
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