Monthly Archives: June 2011

Oliver Perry Curbow – Son of Tilman P. Curbow

Oliver Perry Curbow was my husband’s great-great grandfather. In many ways, Oliver is more of a mystery to me than is his father Tilman P. Curbow. Oliver has been illusive – and the information we have on him has been difficult to locate. As I began researching the life of Oliver, it became quickly apparent to me that he lived a very transient lifestyle – never putting down roots – moving often, probably out of sheer necessity – always scrambling to make a living and more than likely never accumulating many material possessions. I think he must have led a very difficult life suffering the loss of two of his children in childhood – and then watching the remaining children struggle in their own personal lives. Through all of this, I would call Oliver Perry Curbow a survivor – having lived through some of the most turbulent events in American history – the Civil War and the Reconstruction-era of the south.

Oliver was born on October 18th sometime in the early 1840s in Georgia. (His Texas Death Certificate says 1840 – but I believe this is not correct. For my research purposes I use 1845. It should be noted that in every census year where Oliver was enumerated – he supplied a different birth year ranging from as early as 1837 to as late as 1847.) Oliver was the oldest son of Tilman Curbow and Elizabeth Box. During that time period, the Curbow family seemingly had a large presence in Gwinnett, Jackson, Paulding and Hall Counties – all located in north Georgia. None of my research has yielded a clue as to exactly where in Georgia Oliver Perry Curbow was born.

Oliver came west with his family – first to Itawamba, Mississippi then later to Ouachita County, Arkansas – then to Bowie County where the family waited out the Civil War Years.

We do not know what effect the five-year Civil War period had on our Curbow family. We do know that Oliver Perry Curbow, along with his mother and younger siblings, spent the war years in Bowie County, Texas with Oliver’s uncle, Wiseman Curbow and family. (The oral family history indicates that Wiseman Curbow was an overseer on a large Georgia plantation. He arrived in Texas with his young son Tilman David Curbow in about 1850 and was already settled near Simms in Bowie County, Texas.) We also know that Oliver’s father, Tilman P. Curbow, served in the Confederate States Army where he can be found in the muster rolls for both Arkansas and Texas.

I often think about the burden that Oliver’s mother, Elizabeth Box Curbow, must have faced as she saw her husband off to war. During that period the woman was considered the soul of the home (they still are!). Upon her fell the duty of managing the household, bearing and raising the children – and in rural communities the women would very often manage the farms and plantations on top of all that. Keep in mind also, at this time in history, “a lady” was not to leave the house without a gentleman escort; could not sign a contract on her own behalf; could not own property; and could not vote. During the Civil War period, women out of necessity picked up the harnesses that their husbands had laid down. The southern home during the Civil War was a place of severe hardship, constant fear and heartache.

Many years later Oliver Perry Curbow’s wife, Harriet Emeline McGuire, would file a Widow’s Pension Application for benefits in the State of Oklahoma. In this application she stated that Oliver Perry Curbow enlisted into the Confederate Army in 1861 out of Bowie County, Texas. (If the 1840 birth year is correct (which I do not believe it is), Oliver would have been 21 years old in 1861 – more likely he was about 16.) Major General C. H. Bridges by return correspondence to Harriet Curbow dated Sept. 10, 1931 states that Oliver Perry Curbow was not found on the muster rolls for the Confederate States Army during this time period, and it was concluded that he had not served the Confederacy, and her application for pension was therefore denied.

Below is an excerpt of a letter written by K.F. Rudisill (this person is the son-in-law of Harriet’s brother) on Harriet’s behalf in 1931:

“Dear Sir: I knew Oliver Perry Curbow. He visited my home when I was 9 years old, and I’ve had a neighbor that served in the Civil War, and these two old men would sit on our porch and talk about the war for hours at a time. I was too small to think of ever needing to remember their different companies and all that stuff and our neighbor, Mr. Sam Taylor, has been dead for several years. And Mrs. Curbow is so feeble in mind and body you can’t get much information from her. I hope you will do all you can for her, if any one ever needed a pension, Mrs. Curbow does. Thanking you in advance for a favor kindness. Yours respectfully, K. F. Rudisill, Box 256, Caddo, Oklahoma.”

At this point in time, I feel fairly comfortable in saying that Oliver Perry Curbow did not serve in the Civil War. The military has no record of him and no muster records exist to prove his service. It is interesting though that the family – or at least his wife – believed that he had served – maybe Oliver was a bit of a story-teller ?!

Oliver lived out his life with his wife Harriet where they raised six known children in various north Texas counties. (William David Curbow; Charles Franklin Curbow; Edwin Perry Curbow; and Taudia Mae Curbow; two are unidentified and thought to have died in childhood: M. E. born 1872; and B. H. born 1878).

Oliver Perry Curbow was about 76 years old when he died on March 29, 1921 at 4:00 a.m. in the morning in Denison, Grayson County, Texas. His physician states that the cause of death was chronic interstitial nephritis – and that he had been ill with this condition for four years. He was specifically treating Oliver from Jan. 20, 1921 until the day of his death. Nephritis is a kidney disorder.

Oliver Perry Curbow - Texas Death Certificate

The missing piece of the puzzle that remains to be found is the burial location of Oliver Perry Curbow – as much confusion exists surrounding the burial location of Oliver. The burial date of March 30, 1921 is provided by his Texas death certificate. The undertaker was George Shields. However, Oliver’s burial location is disputed. The death certificate states that Oliver is buried in Fairview Cemetery. This cemetery is a very large one managed by the City of Denison (who has maintained the burial records from the cemetery’s inception to present and is adamant that the index is complete and accurate). The City states that Oliver Perry Curbow is not listed in their index of burials at Fairview Cemetery.

Fairview Cemetery - Are you here?

As I bring Oliver’s life story to a close it is my hope that one day very soon his descendents will be able to stand at Oliver’s grave to honor his memory. I wonder if he could have ever imagined that we would be looking for him so many years later?

The days of long ago with all the hardships
With all the inconveniences
With all the vicissitudes, and with all their loneliness, passed;
We would not return to them if we could, yet they were days of happiness.

Excerpt from the life story of J. E. Gates – Grayson County, Texas – 1872

Read more about Oliver Perry Curbow here.

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Posted by on June 26, 2011 in Curbow


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Our Fathers – Then and Now

What Makes a Dad

God took the strength of a mountain; The majesty of a tree.
The warmth of a summer sun; The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature; The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages; The power of the eagle’s flight,
The joy of a morning in spring; The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity; The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities;  When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete; And so,  He called it … Dad.
Author Unknown

Father’s Day – today we set aside time to celebrate and honor fatherhood and to recognize the influence our Dads have had in our lives.

Me and my dad - Richard Ernest Montoya - "As old as she was...she still missed her daddy sometimes."

Richard Ernest Montoya - with Curbow grandson

This photo was taken around the time of my father’s death.  Dad – we still have your old easy chair.  It is tattered and worn – but we can’t bear to get rid of it.  It sits in your great-grandson’s room now.  He watches cartoons and eats his snacks in that chair – just like your grandson did.

Big PaPa with newborn Curbow

One of my favorite photographs.  My son was only a few days old and this was his first visit to Big PaPa’s house.

New Father

Where did the time go?  The boy is 25 years old!

And so the cycle of life continues – our newest Dad – and he’s doing a GREAT job.


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Posted by on June 19, 2011 in Odds and Ends


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Genealogy – To Share or Not to Share

I am excited to tell you that I finally bit the bullet and launched my own genealogy website (and probably bit off more than I can chew too!)  You can go to the “Family Tree” tab above and check it out.  It’s very much a work in progress.  Right now my head is spinning …. HTML, FTP, SQL, CSS….what the heck is all that?!  It’s my hope that I’ll be able to personalize the website as I learn more….but like I said….”very much a work in progress.”  I’m shocked I’ve gotten this far!

The actual genealogy database is set on private.  I have a lot of “clean-up“ type things that still need to be done (reattaching photographs, stories from, etc.).  So in other words, if you wish to view it you will have to make a request.  You can do this via the “Contact Us” tab which is located on the upper right hand side of the page under “Information.”  This will generate an email to me, and I in turn will issue you a user name and a password to access the database.

And this then brings me to my dilemma – setting the database on private in some ways defeats the purpose of having a website in the first place.

On the one hand I feel that if I make the genealogy available to the general public, then I will lose control over the information and how it is used.  I must face the reality that my research could appear in places which I don’t intend for it to be – such as paid commercial databases, etc.  This genealogy database represents untold hours of labor.  I even fell and broke my foot while hunting down a tombstone in a local cemetery!  All this for the ancestors!  For a short time when I was first starting with my tree was public and people would just come along and in one full swoop gobble up information that took me months upon months to compile.  Never a hello…a thank you…or a trading of information.  It was disconcerting also to see photographs of our dear grandparents posted on user sites who had only a distant relationship.

On the other hand, there is no doubt in my mind that family researchers should and in fact must share their information.  It is completely necessary in order to be successful.  I have made countless friends along the way, connected with distant cousins, and even reconnected with family members.  Many of the photographs that are most special to me have come generously from other researchers.  Should I then be hoarding my genealogy database?  Could my accurately documented and sourced database be a way to combat the misinformation that’s “out there” on some of our family lines?  By way of example, my husband’s ggg-granfather, Tilman P. Curbow, appears in 11 public trees on  All 11 trees contain gross errors in them – which just keep getting passed on from tree-to-tree.

To share or not to share….what do you think?


Posted by on June 12, 2011 in Odds and Ends


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This is the Face of Genealogy

Pearl Eva Spencer – My Grandmother

This entry is being posted in protest of the LAWeekly news article which was recently written purporting to showcase an upcoming genealogy conference.  The article was accompanied with a very “odd” and “offensive” photograph – see for yourself here

So I (along with many fellow genealogy bloggers) am posting photos of our family that would have served as far better choices for the article!  I concur with others that say, “What were they thinking”?!


Posted by on June 7, 2011 in Odds and Ends


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Jose Ylario Montoya

My great great grandfather, Jose Ylario Montoya, remains in large part a mystery. In the two census records where we can reliably identify him, we are told that he was born in January 1844 and the next one states 1845 in the New Mexico Territory. The San Juan baptismal and marriage records are silent when it comes to Ylario, only his death date is recorded there. I have long speculated that perhaps he was the first Montoya of our line to settle in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, perhaps arriving from another region of New Mexico. We cannot state with specificity who his parents are – but we have a potentially important lead in the 1850 census.

My cousin Carma and I have both gone through the 1850 New Mexico Territory census, line-by-line and name-by-name. We found only one Jose Hilario Montoya – and we found him in Santa Ana County, New Mexico Territory. Santa Ana was one of the seven original partidos created in New Mexico under Mexican rule. Under American rule, it became a U.S. territorial county from 1852 until 1876, when it was absorbed by Bernalillo County. Santa Ana County does not exist today.

1852 Territorial Map of New Mexico Territory

The 1850 census was enumerated January of 1850 – The person that I believe to be my great great grandfather Jose Hilario Montoya is indexed as “Jose Ilaria Montoya, age 6 born 1844 in New Mexico. He is living with his grandfather Joaquim Montoya, age 81, a farmer who owns $1,400 worth of real estate; his father, Jose Ignacio Montoya, age 47, a farmer; his mother Anna, age 30. Also in the home are 4 siblings: Mercia, age 14; Justo, age 8; Rebecca, age 3; and Jose Bernardo, 10 months. Also in the home are six children with the last name of Baca.  Their connection to the family is unknown at this time.  It should be noted that later in life Justo Montoya can be found in Rio Arriba County and Jose Hilario named one of his daughters Rebecca.

Could this be the family of my great great grandfather?

If – and it’s still an if – I can prove that this is the right family (and I believe it is) then Hilario’s father, mother and grandfather are identified. Further, with the grandfather’s name, this line can be tied back to Bartolome de Montoya through his son Diego de Montoya, a Spanish Alferez. (An Alferez was the next highest ranking official after the Majordomo. He was generally in charge of the king or magnate’s private army, his knights and his armory.)  But I am getting ahead of myself – back to what we do know!

In June of 1860 the family is still present in Santa Ana County, in Pena Blanca. My Montoya grandfather (if this is him) is indexed as “Jose Lario,” age 20 born 1840. He is living with Jose Ignacio, age 90 (the grandfather – but the name is misindexed) who owns real estate worth $1,800 and personal property worth $10,800. Also in the home is his mother Anna Maria, age 40; and nine siblings. Jose Ignacio (the father) must have been skipped by the enumerator – or he has died. There are many Montoya and Gallegos families nearby.

Based on later census records we know that our Jose Ylario Montoya had a wife named Josefa. In the Marriage Books of Santo Domingo and Pena Blanca, there is a marriage record that indicates that Jose Ylario Montoya was the legitimate son of Jose Ignacio Montoya and Ana Maria Gallegos, and that he married Josefa Montoya on 26 November 1863. In my mind the clues are adding up that this is more than likely my great great grandfather, Jose Ylario Montoya.

The 1870 census was enumerated on the 5th day of July, and we see that the family has relocated to Trinidad, Las Animas County, Colorado Territory. My Ylario is indexed as “Jose Hilario,” age 33, he is a farmer who owns $200 worth of real estate and $178 worth of personal property, he states that he was born in New Mexico; he cannot read/write; We find him living with a daughter, age 6, Versele and a son, age 5, Ambrosio. There is no wife in the home. Ylario is living next door to mother Anna, age 54 who is a housekeeper. She owns $350 worth of real estate and $218 worth of personal property. Five of her children, and Ylario’s siblings, are still in the home. Interestingly, living on the other side of Ylario Montoya is the family of Polaris de Herrera. I do not know the connection; however, Ylario would later in life take a mistress, Augustina de Herrera, and have a large family with her, including my great grandfather Maximiano de Herrera Montoya.

1870 Census - Colorado Territory

And here’s where it gets very confusing – the 1880 census finds Jose Ylario Montoya in Bosque, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, where my grandfather and great-grandfather were born. He is indexed as “Ilario,” age 35 born 1845 in New Mexico.  He is a laborer living with his wife Josefa, age 30. The children all belong to Augustina de Herrera, and she cannot be found in any census record – Jose, 16; Marina, 10; Maximiano, 8; Rebecca, 6; Albina 4; Anastario, 2; and Albina, 2 months.

The 1900 census was enumerated in June of that year. Ylario is still in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. He is indexed as “Ilario J.,” age 56 born Jan 1844; He states that he has been married for 36 years, which matches the marriage record out of Santa Ana County. Ylario is living with wife Josefa who is 50 born Mar 1850; She states that she has given birth 2 times and that both children are living. Living right next door is the mother of Ylario’s other children – who is indexed as Augustina Herrera who was born Oct 1850. She still has four children in the home. Augustina states that she is divorced and that she has given birth to 9 children – 7 are living.

1900 Census

The family story is that Augustina de Herrera was the mistress of Jose Ylario Montoya – and that she lived right next door to Ylario and Josefa. Based on these census records, it is unknown to me who raised my great gandfather, Ylario or Augustina.

According to the death/burial records of the San Juan de los Caballeros Catholic Church in Rio Arriba County, Jose Ylario Montoya died and was laid to rest in Velarde Cemetery on 7 Oct 1902.  I have no information on what became of Josefa Montoya or Maria Augustina de Herrera.


Posted by on June 5, 2011 in Gallegos, Montoya, Odds and Ends


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