Provenance: a record of ownership; the place of origin

Have you ever thought about the provenance for some of the records in your family files? As I’ve been recently reviewing the notes / resources for an ancestor, Hiram M. Currey, I came across a set of 1924 letters for which I have no record of their source.

These letters provide the only clue I have about the whereabouts of Hiram M. Currey after 1844. Thus, figuring out the source of the letters is critical to determining how reliable the information in the letters might be.

While I suspected that I might have received these letters from one of two CURREY researchers that I corresponded with prior to 2000, I started trying to figure out the source by identifying the authors of the letters.

Since I couldn’t figure out Ada’s maiden name, I looked thru my RootsMagic file for a granddaughter of Providence Currey named Ada and found an Ada A. McCain. A Google search for Ada McCain turned up a RootsWeb site for Ada’s mother, Eliza Ann Currey which contains a reference to these letters in the endnotes.

Since the author of the web site is one of the researchers I corresponded with, I now know the provenance of these letters!

There are a LOT of clues in these letters about the CURREY family, but only a brief mention of Hiram Curry.

Providence Curry had a brother Tom Curry, and a brother Hiram Curry.
Hiram Curry went to the goldfields of California in the early days
before Providence Curry and his family came to Oregon, and they lost
all trace of him, and never knew what became of him. Max Currey, a son
of Hiram Currey, lived with Mrs. Ashley (daughter Providence Curry)
for sometime. He became a dentist and lived in Kansas City.

This letter provides the following clues:

  • Hiram is a brother to Providence and Thomas Currey
  • Hiram went to California before 1853
  • Hiram had a son named Max who was a dentist

While I’ve been able to locate documents connecting Hiram to his brothers, I have not been able to verify the other clues.

However, these letters may provide the only clue to where I might find Hiram Currey after 1844!

Set of letters
from Oregon

Nellie Rose Jones (Mrs. Wilber A)

I have been looking over more old letters, particularly the Curry
letters, and have out about 23 letters in envelope send to you to
read. As I re-read the letters I made notes of Items that seemed to me
of special interest-. I am typing these notes for you. As you reed the
letters you may find something I have overlooked, but I believe my
notes contain the highlights. You may have a copy of the WILL of the
grandfather of Samuel Colver, Jr. but I am not sure so am enclosing
a copy. Then the letter of the Mrs. Willis of San Francisco and her
notes gathered from ^he Newberry Library, Chicago, gives me the exact
date of the marriage of Samuel Colver Sr., and Rachel Curry, and the
place. Also tell that my great great grandfather, Hiram N. Curry, who
was State Treasurer of Ohio from 1516 to 1820, speculated with public
money and resigned his office in Feb. 1820. I am led to believe that
he was about 60 years of age that time, and married for the second
time in 1821. $1800 seems to be the amount of his defalcation. He was
In Ohio in 1805. maybe before. He lived to be a very old man and died I
in or near Crawfordsville, Indiana, it seems.
Best wishes for success,
(Mrs. William A.) Nellie Rose Jones

My notes from the letters follow;
Providence Curry was the brother of Rachel Curry Colver (Mrs. Samuel
Colver, Sr., ) She was born 1791 and was my maternal great grandmother.
Providence Curry had a brother Tom Curry, and a brother Hiram Curry.
Hiram Curry went to the goldfields of California in the early days
before Providence Curry and his family came to Oregon, and they lost
all trace of him, and never knew what became of him. Max Currey, a son
of Hiram Currey, lived with Mrs. Ashley (daughter Providence Curry)
for sometime. He became a dentist and lived in Kansas City.

Providence Curry also had a sister Sarah, who never married and
a sister, Rebecca Currey Marks. They lived in Crawfordsville, Indiana
In his later years Hiram Currey, father of Rachel Currey Colver
Providence Currey, Ton Currey, Hiram Currey, Sarah Currey and Rebecca
Curry Marks, lived In Crawfordsville, Indiana, and married again in his
old age. (Note, He married in Ohio in 1821 – his second marriage, then
went to Indiana. Nellie Rose Jones)

One daughter of Providence Currey was Ida Currey, who married
an older brother of [?] above

page – 2
circuit Judge of this district, (Note – I believe he was principal of)
the Grants Pass public schools around 1890. He was there a number of
years if I am not mistaken. N. R. J.) Their son now lives in Salem,
Oregon, and is clerk of the supreme court. His Mother lives with him
(1-29-1951). She is the youngest daughter of Providence Currey and is
first cousin of my grandfather, Samuel Colver, Jr.

Colonel George B. Currey was a brother of Ida Currey Benson. He
was a man of some prominence in early Oregon history. Note- Members «f
the Curry – Currey family spell the name either way.

According to W. L. Curry of Ohio, his great grandfather was James
Curry who came from Ireland to Virginia in 1762. He lived In Staunton,
Va. Dr. Spencer Garwood says Rachel Curry was a sister of Otway Curry –
but W. L. Curry says he does not know who she was, though he knew her

Hiram M. Curry was State Treasurer of Ohio 1816 – 1820 – resigned
February, 1820. ( From Howe’s Collections of Ohio) Vol. 1, page 168
H. M. Curry lived in Champaign county, Ohio. Page 141 – Mr. Kilbourn
was chairmen of a committee to consider the petition for relief of the
bondsmen of H. M. Curry, former State Treasurer,

History of Logan and Champaign counties 1805 – 1921- page 250
July 24, 1806, married, Samuel Colver to Rachel Curry – Found In Newberry
Library, Chicago.

Provedence Monts Curry came from Kentucky, Harrodsburg, according
to his granddaughter, Ada Marks, who wrote to me in 1924.

Ada McCain Maddux, Kentland, Indiana, granddaughter of Providence
Monts Currey (she spells it Provedenze), who was a brother of my great
grandmother, Rachel Currey, says, in a letter me dated March 29, 1924
“Mother (Elizabeth Currey) has told me that the grandfathers lived to b
be over one hundred and In the letter that my grandfather wrote her
tells of his grandfather being 114. 1 think that the grandfather
is burled either at Thorntown, Indiana, or Crawfordsville. Ind.*(Note;
I believe she means her great grandfather, Hiram Currey.)

Howe’s Historical Collections of Ohio, Vol. I, page 165
Treasurers of Ohio, John Armstrong, 1792-1803; William McFarland, 1803-
1816; Hiram M. Currey, 1816-1820, resigned February, 1820. A term of
office was three years, then could be re-elected for two .

Vol. 6 p. 135. Vote in the 5th district for congressman, H. M. Curry received
105 votes from Champaign county

Page 141 – Actions of General Assembly of 1823-24 State of Ohio.
Mr. Kilbourn was chairman of a committee to consider the petition for
relief of the bondsmen of H. M. Curry, former State Treasurer,
By this examination it appears to the satisfaction of your committee
that the purchase of property to which the raid Curry applied the public
money, in the full amount of hie defalcation, was all made prior to
his re-election to the treasurry office; that the petitioners had no
knowledge of his defalcation, nor was the fact then apprehended by tho
treasury committee.

page – 3
The petitioners certainly had reason to believe that the General
Assembly would not re-elect a known defaulter, nor one with whom after
the annual examination and report, they were not well satisfied, and so
believing they entered into the security bonds in question; but the
actual defalcation was soon after discovered.

It thus appears that the said petitioners have done more in
effecting security to the State by the property of said Curry than was
contemplated by the resolution of the Legislature, in that they have
removed the incumbrance on the property by paying $1800 in cash, and
they have exhibited with their memorial the Treasurer’s receipt given
in conformity to the provisions of the said resolution, for §55.73
more than the sum originally due the State from said Curry.

During the time they were making these laudable and efficient
exertions, and to the present time, expensive and vigorous prosecutions
have been carried on against then by the agent of the State, which is
not justly chargeable against them.

—prayer of said petition is reasonable and the petitioners should
be discharged from all liabilities in the premises without further
payment. ( these lost two lines were the finding of the committee to
look into the matter of the petition.) -——a committee was appointed
to look Into the property and the auditor was authorized to rent it.

Vol. 15 – page 93 – Reference to H. M. Curry, Treasurer of State
—to pay order of $33,000 for erection of State and public Buildings
at Columbus, Ohio, In 1817.

Vol. 3 page 37 – Marriage record Franklin county. Vol. 1814-1830
August 30, 1821, Hiram M. Curry and Elizabeth Lane, by Charles Henkel.

Vol. 1 page 36 – Franklin county. June 14, 1805, Alexander Reed
and Phebe Cary, married by Hiram Merick Curry. (Note by N. R. J., This
proves that he was living in Ohio in 1805 – so Samuel Colver and Rachel
Curry were married there , too. )

Vol. 2, page A04 – 404
A Mr. Henry Smith. Union county, came in 1836 when age ?, with
parents from Columbia county, N. Y. —writes recollections —-‘the
Colvers, Millers, and Davenports were kin.* He continues – schools-
debating society weekly,— ‘ I recall the names of three or four who
displayed a good deal of ability in these forensic contests; Samuel
and Hiram Colver, who were young lawyers, sons of the early pioneer,
Samuel Colver.

Note by Nellie Rose Jones; All of the above Information was
gathered In the Newberry Library, Chicago, Ill., by Leone Cady Willis,
215 Santa. Rosa Ave., San Francisco, California. She is a descendant of
Angelina Colver who was a sister of Samuel Colver, Sr., and her letter
to me was in 1934.

Belmont Road R.4. Box 2B, Hood River, Oregon
Jan. 17, 1924.

Mrs. Nellie Jones, some time ago I received a letter from you
seeking for some information about the Currey family and I have not
answered it sooner in hopes that I could find out what you wanted to Know.
My mother Is living with me, she is 83 years old and is the daughter of
Providence Currey, who was the brother of Rachel Currey Oliver, You stated
in your letter that Providence Currey had only one brother, Tom, and my
mother tells me that there was another brother, Hiram, who went to the gold
fields of California in the early days “before Providence Currey and his
family came to Oregon and they lost all trace of him and never knew what
became of him. Max Currey, a son of Hiram Currey lived with my mother’s
family for some time . He finally “became a dentist and the last known of
lived in Kansas city. Providence Currey also had two sisters, Sarah who
never married and Rebecca Currey Marks, They lived at Crawfordsville. Ind.
Mother does not know the names of either of her grand parents on the Currey
side. Her grand father lived to “be a very old man and married a second time
when he was quite old and lived at Crawfordsville “but that is all she
knows about him.

I should be interested to know more about this society you speak of,
can you join it if you have Currey ancestry? I will see if I can find any
way of getting the names of my great grand parents. I have an aunt living
in San Jose, she Is the youngest of mother’s sisters and she might Know.
her address is 465-N-12th st. San Jose. Cal. Mother has one brother
living, P.M. Currey, his address at present is Andrews, Oregon.

I am very sorry not to “be able to give you more information but If
this little is of any use to you I am glad and hope to hear from you again
some time. We are some sort of cousins I believe.
Yours sincerely.

Ethel (Currey Ashley) Tomlinson

Boise Idaho
1602 State & 16 St
Feb 9 1924

Dear Cousin if you will permit me to
say cousin

I am writing you in answer to a letter Carrie Harvey just sent me
I cannot give you the information but I think I can put you in
touch with a cousin who can

I made a visit to my aunts home in Indiana about twenty years
ago this aunt has since died but her Daughter whose address I
will give you might know as I think they have better record of
the family than we here in the west

My Mother is still living is now 83 years of age she makes her
home with my sister whose address, I will also send you she to
may be able to give this information

I wrote her some time ago as I knew you were trying to get the
lineage of this branch of the family

I will also write to this cousin in the east we did coraspond
for several years but finally dropped off
now I should apologize to you for useing type and especially
since I am just learning and make so many mistakes I haven’t
learned how to space or use the quotation marks am not
taking any instructions am just picking it up off hand and
some may think I am starting in late but I do not as I
have three more years yet before, reaching my three score years
and if I can make the letters at all one can read it better
than my writing as I am a very poor scribe

I am also getting track of another Uncle
who may be able to give some information
will write you again when I hear more
Sincerely yours
Emma G. Harden

Maddux Auto Shade Co. (letterhead)
Manufacturers of
For all makes of Closed
Cars, Public Buildings
Homes, Etc.
Office No. 5 Boone Bldg.
Factory 408 Scott St.
Covington, Kentucky

[Wrote[ to Will Curry
and Mr. Maddux
April 4, 1924

March 29, 1924

Mrs Wilbur A. Jones,
Klamath Falls, Ore.

Dear Cousin:—
Your letter was forwarded to me here from Kentland, some days
ago, and would have answered sooner, but thought that we might go
back to Kentland for a few days.

As to information, to the D.A.R. organization, I can give you
nothing sure, but think that a cousin of ours in Indianapolis, Ind.
will have the facts, as he was in correspondence along that line
some years ago.

If you will address him Will Currey, Indianapolis Times he
will answer you I am sure.

In the home at Kentland is a paper; or rather a letter that my
grandfather Provedenze Monts Curry wrote to my mother, that gives
the line of family as he knew it. The family came from Ky. I think
Harrodsburg. They were originally from Greece, and the name was
spelled Kuri.

Here in Covington, and Cincinnati the name Curry is as common as

Smith, some of us are ‘bootleggers, and some in very high standing; also
there are colored people of that name. The family were slave holders
and I have heard that they had many slaves, but I think that the number
was not as many as has come down to the present generation.

We will be in Kentland sometime this summer and I will then get the
letter and make copies of it to send to you.

I am so glad to got the address of Mrs. Harden, as I had not had any
word from her for some years. She made us a visit in Kentland while
my parents and brother were living.

This Will Curry of whom 1 spoke is a son of Tom Curry of Oregon
Missouri, and his fathers name was Tom. I think.

I think that the grandfather is burried either at Thorntown, Ind.
or Crawfordsvillle.

While we lived in Goodland, Ind there was a cousin of mother’s made
us a visit, and her name was Sarah Marks Billings, her home was in
Monmouth Ill. She afterwards stayed with us six months in Gallatin
Mo. where father preached. She returned to Monmouth and we lost trace
of her hearing that she had married a Do. of St Louis Mo. she was
about sixty at this time. I did know the name of the mamex man whom
she married but have forgotten it.

I am the only living member of my family, my father died in 1914, March 16, and mother died in April of 1916. Then just three years ago my only brother dropped dead, from heart trouble.

Two years ago I married the best man that ever a woman had, and am
very happy, we have lived at Hammond, Ind. where Mr. Maddux is an Internal
Revenue officer, but his health failed, so we came here for the winter,
we keep a flat here where we can come and rest when we get tired of the
office work.

We will be here for several weeks yet, and may not go back at all.

I will call Will Curry when we are in Indianapolis, and see what he
can tell me, but you had better write him as it is uncertain when we
will leave here.

I always say that all the Curries are related, good, bad and indiffer-

Mother has told me that the grandfathers lived to be over one hundred
and in the letter that my grandfather wrote her tells of his grandfather
being 114. So you see that we have a good chance to see many changes yet
to come.

I do not know where to place you, are you a grand
daughter of one of my mother’s sisters?

I saw where a Monty Curry was arrested for bootlegging
in Cin. not many days ago, and persume that he is some of the
family, but did not hunt him up. Then I saw the death of a very
much respected man of that name who died in Cal. and was being
buried n Cin. just last week.

Mother always thought that there were none of the family
in the war, but she might have been mistakened.

If I can be of any more help, will be pleased to do so,
You can address me as Mrs A. Dick Maddux, Covington KY.
Apt. 6 Boone Bldg. Emma will remember me as Ada McCain.

Yours most sincerely,

Ada M. Maddux

Now that I know the provenance of these letters, I not only can craft a citation that includes that provenance but also seek out the original papers from Oregon!

“Nellie Rose Jones,” undated; letter, Colver Family Papers; Collection No. AX 126; University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon; photocopy obtained from Steven Shook. contains typewritten notes from other letters.

For those interested in the Currey/Colver families in Oregon, some of the Colver Family Papers are available on the Oregon Digital page. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find these letters in that online collection.