Portrait of Elisha Curtiss


This gentleman's paternal grandfather came from England and settled at Huntington, Connecticut, where the subject of this sketch was born July 17, 1793. His father, Andrew Curtiss, was also born at Huntington. He was a soldier in the Revolution; was on duty at New York when the town was taken by the British. In 1797 he emigrated to this county and settled in Charlton, where he lived nine years; then moved to Ballston and purchased the farm now owned by Asa W. Curtiss.

Elisha lived with his father till he was twenty-three years of age, when he married Elizabeth Waterman (daughter of Asa Waterman, of Ballston), and commenced for himself as a farmer, which occupation he followed for a few years; he then went with Colonel Young (canal commissioner) as assistant, and was engaged in the construction of the canal until its completion in 1825, when he was appointed superintendent. This office he held until 1830, when he gave notice of his resignation, which was some months previous. The canal board, who were Samuel Young, Henry Seymour, Wm. C. Bouck, Silas Wright, Azariah C. Platt, and Abram Keyser, gave him the following neat compliment:

"Resolved, That the skill, economy, and ingenuity which Elisha Curtiss has exhibited in the discharge of his duty as superintendent on the canal, entitles him to the approbation of this board, and that the clerk of this board transmit to him a copy of this resolution."

While Mr. Curtiss was superintendent he took his family to West Troy, where he built the first weigh-lock, and another at Albany. In 1829 he purchased the farm adjoining the old homestead in Ballston, and in 1830 removed there and made substantial improvements on the farm. After remaining one year he again went forth to assist in the construction of our national highways, and took part in building the Albany and Schenectady railroad, which was the first railroad in America; also, the Troy and Ballston railroad, and others. When the Erie canal was enlarged, he, with Harvey Davis, took contracts for three sections, which was completed about 1842, when he returned to the farm, and has since followed that calling.

His wife died Aug. 22, 1829, leaving five children, three of whom are now living, - Asa W., Frederick, and Elizabeth Holister. Mr. Curtiss was again married in August, 1830, to Miss Belinda Waterman, sister of the former wife. They both, and Mr. Curtiss, united with the Presbyterian church at Ballston Centre about 1823, and have since been consistent and active members. Mr. Curtiss is at this time the oldest elder in the church; and now, as the life of this pioneer, already lengthened more than a decade beyond the allotted threescore years and ten, is drawing towards its close of activity, he can look back over its varied shadows and sunshine, its struggles and its triumphs, and, with a serenity born of an unfaltering trust in One who doeth all things well, await with composure the inevitable hour that comes to all living.



Transcribed from the original text and html prepared by Bill Carr, last updated 2/7/00.

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