Curtis, James, Jr. (ca. 1806–1849)

By: Corine Thomas, Charles L. Reid, and Linda A. Reid

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: December 1, 1994

James Curtis, Jr., also known as James C. Curtis, Old Three Hundred settler, was born around 1806 probably in Lincoln County, Tennessee, to James Curtis, Sr., and Peggy Isaacs Rutledge Curtis. Between 1820 and 1823 the family left Tennessee for Alabama. Curtis married Polly Ann Hide in Jefferson County, Alabama, on June 11, 1823. They accompanied James's parents to Texas. On August 19, 1824, he received title to a sitio on the east side of the Brazos River in what is now Brazos County. He later moved to Bastrop County to be near other Curtis family members. Curtis and his wife were recorded on the 1829 census of Stephen F. Austin. He may have been the James Curtis who served under Henry S. Brown on an Indian campaign in 1829. Republic of Texas audited claims show that James Curtis, Jr., was a member of a ranger company under Capt. John J. Tumlinson, Jr., from February 22, 1836, to July 20, 1836. Curtis served in the army under Edward Burleson from July 27, 1837, to November 9, 1837. He was a private in Jesse Billingsley's company on the expedition against Adrián Woll in 1842 and was also mentioned by John H. Jenkins as one of four men attacked by Comanches during a mustang hunt near Plum Creek in July 1842. Apparently Polly died sometime after 1829, and Curtis married Rebecca C. "Tamer" Gray before 1843. They had one daughter, Sarah Ann Elizabeth Curtis. They were divorced in 1848. Curtis died of consumption, probably in the summer of 1849 in Bastrop County. A notice appeared in the Texas State Gazette listing his brother Elijah Curtis, appointed in July 1849, as the administrator of his estate.

Many Texas historians have confused James Curtis, Jr., with his father, James Curtis, Sr. The younger Curtis does not appear on the list of Old Three Hundred members compiled by Stephen F. Austin, which is on file at the General Land Office. This list only shows a "James Curtis." The presumption is that it meant James Curtis, Sr. However, Lester G. Bugbee listed both Curtises as members of the Old Three Hundred.

Lester G. Bugbee, "The Old Three Hundred: A List of Settlers in Austin's First Colony," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 1 (October 1897). John Holland Jenkins, Recollections of Early Texas, ed. John H. Jenkins III (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958; rpt. 1973). Kenneth Kesselus, History of Bastrop County, Texas, Before Statehood (Austin: Jenkins, 1986). Marion Day Mullins, First Census of Texas, 1829–1836, and Other Early Records of the Republic of Texas (Washington: National Genealogical Society, 1959). Texas State Gazette, August 25, 1849.
Time Periods:
  • Mexican Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Corine Thomas, Charles L. Reid, and Linda A. Reid, “Curtis, James, Jr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994

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