Samuel Curtiss

Main St. Cemetery Marker: D7
Born: 1789
Died: 1867

Samuel CurtissSamuel Curtiss donated the land for Main Street Cemetery, improved Maple Avenue, was active in the Underground Railroad, and was the first to subdivide his land.

Samuel was born 1789, the year George Washington became our first President and Mary was born 4 years later. Sam volunteered during the War of 1812.

Samuel and Mary Hatch Curtiss began their life together in 1813 in Royalton, Vermont. By 1830 they had a family of 5 sons and like many others they wanted to provide a better future for them. So, with $1000 they came to Illinois in 1836 and purchased land in the Downers Grove area. The land here was a wild frontier and some Native Americans were still in the area. Having land in the center of the village, Samuel established a tavern, stable, and early post office. His son, Eli, was the first postmaster.

In 1838, he and Israel Blodgett decided to improve the trail running between Chicago and the settlements along the DuPage River. This road is now known as Maple Avenue. It ran through Downers Grove, but just a bit south of the main business area. They surveyed, remapped, and re-laid the street, using six yoke of oxen to pull a heavy oak log, dragging it back and forth for over two miles. They built the roadbed of what is now Maple Avenue. This newly improved road, along with the “Southwest Highway (Ogden Avenue) helped to bring new settlers to the growing area. They  also planted maple trees along what would become Maple Avenue.

As others, here he opposed slavery and helped with the activities of the Underground Railroad. Some of the land he owned became the Main Street Cemetery in 1856 and another piece was sold to the Baptist Church. When former slave Israel Blackburn came to town after the Civil War Samuel gave him land to farm. By 1864 Samuel sold a portion of his land for the first subdivision here.

Mary saw two of their sons go off to California to join the great gold rush but returned no richer. After returning from California son Charles became quite well known in the village serving as village trustee, president of the Farmers and Merchants Bank and even serving in the Illinois General Assembly for a few years.

Samuel Curtiss

Samuel was a very generous man and tried to use his money for the betterment of the community. He died a few years after the Civil War at the age of 78. Mary died in 1883.


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