Honoring Those Interred at Mount Sinai Cemetery — Part II

Mount Sinai Cemetery in early 2019. Photo courtesy Loudoun County Department of Planning. Maria Curtis headstone is center rear.

by Claudette Lewis Bard

In December’s newsletter, we remembered several Lovettsville residents who are interred at the Mount Sinai Cemetery. As we acknowledged, there could be as many as 100 people who made that plot of land their final resting place. Since the printing of that article, we have discovered more of Lovettsville’s ancestors interred there. The current total is 25. While doing research on those who have visible gravestones or known to be buried there, we have discovered other family members. We suspect this number will continue to grow either by way of descendants who will read the article or through further research.

This month we will briefly tell of the lives of several more interred at Mount Sinai Cemetery. We will talk about the Maria and Charles Curtis Family including Nellie Marie Curtis, their granddaughter, John Benjamin Franklin Curtis, and the short life of Martha Ellen Furr. As I conduct the research on those buried there, I cannot help but be saddened by some of those whose lives lasted a matter of days. I am reminded of something my father-in-law, who was born in 1915, used to say. He mentioned that child birth was “the closest thing to death” one can experience. Complications can occur and so much can go wrong in bringing a precious life into the world.

The Maria and Charles Curtis Family

Maria Curtis inscription

Maria E. Curtis—born April 28, 1873—died November 23, 1914, at age 41. The inscription on the headstone reads: “Sleep on mother and take thee rest. God called you home. He thought it best.” There is also a carved image of a hand holding a link in a broken chain.

Charles W. Curtis—born February 6, 1866—died April 2, 1930, at age 64. No grave marker has been located.

Nellie Marie Curtis—born July 23, 1937—died October 13, 1937, aged 2 months. No grave marker has been located.

Short Biographies of the Maria and Charles Curtis Family

Maria E. Curtis was born Maria Ellen Hogan on April 28, 1873 toMtS Maria Curtis (2) Jesse and Sarah Catherine Thompson Hogan. According to the 1880 U.S. Federal census, Sarah Hogan, 25, was listed first and, therefore, most likely head of household. Jesse was not living in the household. The family was listed as follows: Sarah, 25, married, occupation “keeping house”; Maria E., 7, daughter; Charles W., 2, son; and George A. one month, son, born April 1880.

According to the Loudoun County Historical Marriage Records, Jesse Hogan married Sarah Catherine Thompson on June 1, 1871 (Jesse is listed as Jesse Hogeland, African American).

On the same page in the census and listed a few doors down was Jesse Hogan who was listed as a white, 30-year-old farm laborer. He was listed as living in the household of William English (white) and his family. The English family most likely lived on Britain Road, a little east of Mountain Road. In later census records, Jesse was listed as black. As noted in our October 2020 newsletter, William English built a general store probably in the early 1880s. By 1891, there was a post office in the store. Later in the 1890s, English moved the store to the intersection at Mountain and Britain Roads. By the 1930s, it was known as “Arnold’s Store” for the Arnold family who operated it until it closed in 1987. [source: Eugene Scheel, Map of the Short Hill, 2016; Scheel, Loudoun Discovered, 2002, Vol. 5, p. 139.]

According to a ledger of the Britain Colored School, in the possession of the Lovettsville Historical Society and dated the early 1890s, three Hogan children were listed as students: Charles, age 14; George 12; and Jesse, 9. Another ledger dated 1892-1898 recorded the parents or guardians and beside them were the children for whom they were in charge. Listed next to Jesse Hogan, Sr. were his children, George, Charles and Jesse. Also recorded were other children with Hogan as their surname. They were Guy/Greg, Jennie, Bessie, and Ella. Apparently, he was guardian for other children as well as his own. Maria is not listed as having attended school, although we only have ledgers for a certain time period. She may be in other ledgers not yet located. [sources: U.S. Federal Census. Ancestry.com; Loudoun County Historical Marriage Records: 1796-1926, loudoun.gov; Britain Colored School Ledger, courtesy of the Lovettsville Historical Society and Museum]

Charles W. Curtis was born about 1866 to George and Maria Armes Curtis. According to the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, the family was listed as living near Waterford, Virginia. Members of the household were enumerated as follows: George, 53, Mulatto, laborer; Maria, 42, Black, “keeping house”; George, 22, Mulatto, laborer and attending school; Susan, 14, Mulatto, attending school; Cornelia, 12, Mulatto, attending school; Melinda, 11, Mulatto, attending school; Lloyd, 9, Mulatto; Carey, 7, Mulatto; Charley, 4, Mulatto; Mary, two months, Mulatto.

The 1870 Federal Census marked a significant milestone in African-American history, in that it was the first census where formerly enslaved persons were counted. Often this was the first time those former slaves had surnames.

Several of the Curtis children were attending school in 1870 including George and Maria’s 22-year-old son, George. The census has the family living near Waterford. Many of Waterford’s citizens understood the importance of educating the formerly enslaved population and with an increase of returning Black Americans who had escaped to the north before or during the Civil War, the need to establish schools was essential. By the end of 1866, the Quakers had established 10 “colored” schools in Virginia. Even earlier than that, several Quaker citizens in Waterford had already begun teaching Blacks in their homes.

In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Land. Along with other lofty goals, educating newly freed slaves was one of its priorities. In 1866, the Quakers collaborated with the Freedman’s Bureau to purchase land on Second Street in Waterford and built a one-room schoolhouse. The deed read: “to the Colored people of Waterford and Vicinity.” [source: A Village in Time, 1660-1990, Discovering American History in a Small Virginia Quaker Village by Neil C. Hughes; copyright 2017]

It appears the Curtis children may have been students at this school. They would have been some of the first Black Americans to receive a formal education.

Charles W. Curtis may have been one of the voters listed in the List of Colored Voters for the Lovettsville Precinct, a story we featured in the September newsletter. Listed was a C.W. Curtis who registered to vote on October 16, 1896. No age was given; by all estimation, he would have been 30 years old. The information in the ledger stated he had “transferred from Bolington.” At the time, there were four precincts in the Lovettsville District—Lovettsville, Waters (Between the Hills), Bolington and Taylorstown. He was now registered in the Lovettsville precinct and, by all accounts, had been registered in the Bolington precinct at one time. Bolington is an area close to Mount Sinai Cemetery, his final resting place.

Charles W. Curtis married Maria Ellen Hogan in 1899. According to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Maria appeared to have been enumerated in two census records.

On June 14, 1900, Laban Grubb, census enumerator for the Lovettsville Magisterial District, visited the home of Charles W. Curtis, 35, head of household and listed as a day laborer. M. Ella Curtis, 26, was listed as his wife. They had been married for one year. In the 1900 census, if a woman had children, both the number of children born to her and the number still living was listed. On the original census page, it appeared to be “0” in both columns indicating she had no children.

On June 25, 1900, the same enumerator, Laban Grubb, visited the household of Jesse and Sarah Hogan, Maria’s parents. Maria was listed as living in that household as well. The following persons were enumerated: Jesse (written as Jessee), 48, head of household; Sarah, wife, 46; Maria E. Curtis, daughter, 27, married for one year. Maria also had one living child. Others listed were Jesse W., son, 17; Ira V., daughter, 12; Guy O., son, 7; and Christina A. Curtis, who is listed as a grandson to the head of household, seven months old. I would conclude Christina is Maria’s daughter. Also noted, Sarah was listed as having 10 children and seven were alive.

According to the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, it appeared that the Charles Curtis household may have been split once again. His household was listed as follows: Charles (listed as Charlie), head of household, Mulatto, 46, married 11 years and was a day laborer; Maria L. (since her middle name was Ellen, this may have been misunderstood), Mulatto, wife, 37, married 11 years and mother of two living children; Cornelius, son, 8, Mulatto (one of their children); and Lloyd Curtis, brother-in-law, Mulatto, 52, divorced.

A few doors down was the following household: Kate Hogan, head of household, Mulatto, 56, widow. From all accounts, this was Maria’s mother, Sarah Catherine Hogan who is now a widow. Also living in the household is Bessie Hogan, daughter, 18; Adel Cristina Curtis, granddaughter, 10; and Veoloa V. Hogan, granddaughter, one year old. Adel Christina Curtis appeared to be Christena A. Curtis, Charles and Maria Curtis’ daughter who now lived with her grandmother close by. The census record indicated the families lived in the rural section of Lovettsville. There were several members of the Arnold family living nearby and that indicated to me that the Curtis and Hogan families lived in Britain, on Mountain Road near Arnold’s Store. [source: U.S. Federal Census, Ancestry.com; Map of the Short Hill by Eugene Scheel, 2016]

MtS Maria Curtis closeup (2)Maria Ellen Hogan Curtis died on November 23, 1914 at the age of 41. Her children, Cornelius and Adele Christina would only have been 12 and 14 respectively. I cannot help but think that a few years earlier in 1910, could she had been ill and not able to take care of both children? Is that why one child was not living in the household? Her gravestone contains such a powerful message. Inscribed is a hand pointing down, holding a broken chain. According to Thoughtco.com, this symbolizes a death of a family member and the death represents a break in the marriage or perhaps motherhood. God is breaking a link in the chain in order to bring the soul unto himself. [source: thoughtco.com., a website explaining cemetery symbolism; Find A Grave.com]

By 1920, Charles, now 54, was living in a household with his two children, Cornelius, 18 and Adell. 19, and several other members of the Curtis and Hogan families, including Maria’s mother now listed as Catherine Hogan. Charles owned his house free of a mortgage and did farm work. There appeared to be four generations living in the household. [sources: U.S. Federal Census, Ancestry.com]

In 1921, Cornelius Curtis, at age 19, was enrolled as a student in the Guinea Colored School. A short biography in the report specified he lived about 1/8 of a mile from the school and attended 19 of the 43 days the school was opened. It also acknowledged he may have been in the first grade. Also, listed as a student in the Guinea Colored School was Margarette Beaner. As stated in the October newsletter, Lea M. Beaner, born around 1909, was often listed by her middle name Margarette Beaner. Cornelius and Lea Margarette were in the same class at the Guinea Colored School. [source: Guinea Colored School 1921 Term Report, Edwin Washington Project, dated November 1, 2012]

On August 10, 1927, Cornelius married Lea (now spelled Leah) M. Beaner and they got married in Hamilton. She was the daughter of Charles and Nellie Beaner.

In the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Cornelius Curtis, 28, was listed as head of household, and owned his home with a value of $500. He could read and write and was a farm laborer. Lea M., 21, his wife, could also read and write. Their sons were: Marshall L., one year, nine months old, and William B., eight months old. Charles Curtis, Cornelius’ father, lived there as well.

Charles W. Curtis died on April 2, 1930, shortly after the census was taken. He was 64 years old and died of tuberculosis. His place of death was Waterford, Virginia, where he was born. No grave marker has been located, but most likely he was buried next to his beloved wife, Maria E. Curtis, since his death certificate indicated he was buried in Britain, Virginia. [source: Loudoun County death certificate, Ancestry.com]

A dreadful, heartbreaking event beset the household of Cornelius and Lea Curtis. On July 23, 1937, they welcomed their seventh child, Nellie Marie Curtis, taking the names of both Cornelius’ and Lea’s mothers. The family lived in Purcellville at the time. I would imagine times were tough, since this was during the Great Depression, which was the longest and most severe worldwide economic downturn in modern history that began in the United States in 1929, and lasted until about 1939. Their precious daughter died on October 13, 1937 and the cause of death was malnutrition. She died at Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg. She was buried at Mount Sinai Cemetery, most likely alongside her grandparents, Charles and Maria Curtis. No grave marker has been located. [source: Britannica.com; Loudoun County death certificate, Ancestry.com]

John Benjamin Franklin Curtis

John B.F. Curtis—born April 4, 1879—died March 5, 1909

Short Biography of John B.F. Curtis

John B.F. Curtis was born April 4, 1879 and was the fourth child of James and Amanda Curtis of Lovettsville. According to the 1880 MtS John B F Curtis w death dateU.S. Federal Census, those living in the household were as follows: James H. Curtis, 31, farm laborer, could read and write; Amanda, wife, 28, could neither read nor write, and was “keeping house;” Charlotte, 7, daughter; Maria V., 4, daughter; Edward L., 3, son; and John B., 1, son. [source: U.S. Federal Census, Ancestry.com]

By 1898, John was enrolled as a student in the Britain Colored School where, according to the school ledger for the month of January, he had perfect attendance. He was enrolled as John B.F. Curtis. In the Britain Colored School list of parents and guardians, James H. Curtis was parent or guardian for Lee, John B.F., Edward and Maria Curtis. [source: Britain Colored School Ledger, Lovettsville Historical Society and Museum]

In October 1898, John was enrolled at the Lovettsville Colored School which was located, at that time, at S. Loudoun and S. Locust Streets in Lovettsville. According to the school’s ledger, he was 18 years old, and attended 23 days and was absent 11. He studied spelling, reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography and U.S. history. His name in the ledger was “John Benj. Franklin Curtis.” [source: Lovettsville Colored School Ledger, Lovettsville Historical Society and Museum]

John Curtis was featured in our October newsletter as one of the men in the List of Colored Voters for the Lovettsville Magisterial District. He registered on October 11, 1900 at age 21, and his name in the original register is listed as “J. B. F. Curtis.” James, his father, registered on July 23, 1888, when John was nine years old. He apparently saw the importance of exercising his right to vote because as soon as he was eligible, he registered. [source: List of Colored Voters Registered at Lovettsville Precinct, Lovettsville Historical Society and Museum]

Other than his name on the Colored Voters List in 1900, I was not able to locate him living in Lovettsville or in any other city in that time period. He died on March 5, 1909, just shy of his 30th birthday. He is buried in Mount Sinai Cemetery. It appeared he neither married nor had children.

Martha Ellen Furr

Martha Ellen Furr—born August 1, 1915––died August 10, 1915, age 9 days

The Short Life of Martha Ellen Furr

Martha Ellen Furr was nine days old when she died. The birth and death certificates have some information that differ in several ways. The birth certificate has the following information: Richard Furr, 35, father; Mary Furr, 20, mother. The place of birth for Martha was Morrisonville. Richard’s birthplace was unknown and since he was 35, he was born about 1880. When the mother’s name is listed on the birth certificate, it should be her maiden name, even though she may be married. Martha’s mother’s name was listed as Mary Furr, most likely indicating this was her married name. She was 20 years old, making her birth year around 1895. Her birthplace was unknown and her occupation was laborer.

Loudoun County birth certificates, at that time, had information about the births of a mother’s other children. On line five, the wording is “number in order of birth,” which would indicate how many other children a mother had birthed. On Martha’s birth certificate, “don’t know” was hand-written. Lines 20 and 21 had similar wording: “number of children born to this mother, including present birth” and “number of children of this mother now living, including present birth.” Both of those lines were left blank.

Martha Ellen Furr was born alive at 1:30 a.m., on or about August 1, 1915. She was brought into the world by a midwife. The first name of the midwife was not clear, but the last name was Hill. The address of the midwife was Hamilton, Virginia. The birth was deemed “legitimate” indicating the couple was married. [Loudoun County Birth Certificate, Ancestry.com; Loudoun County Historical Births and Deaths, 1912-1917, Loudoun.gov]

The following is information on the death certificate. Martha survived only nine days and died on August 10, 1915. The cause of death was meningitis. She was a resident of Morrisonville. Richard Furr was her father and his birthplace was Aldie, Virginia. Her mother’s name was Helen Palmer and Helen was born in North Fork, Virginia. Through further research, I could not determine if Mary Furr and Helen Palmer were the same person, although I am sure they were. The discrepancies to me indicate perhaps Mary Furr may have been known by her middle name, Helen, and that her full maiden name was Mary Helen Palmer.

Elijah S. Goodhart, the Lovettsville undertaker until the Brown family took over at his death, was the informant. Martha was laid to rest at Mount Sinai Cemetery on August 11, 1915. [source: Loudoun County Death Certificate, Ancestry.com; Loudoun County Historical Birth and Death Records, 1912-1917, loudoun.gov.]

In our next newsletter, we will continue to honor those interred at Mount Sinai Cemetery.