Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Life of Ezra Houghton Curtis Contributed By Janis M. Hardy • 2013-07-29

Ezra Houghton Curtis was born in Rutland, Tioga County, Pennsylvania, February 19, 1823. His father, Enos Curtis, joined the church about the time the Book of Mormon was first published. It is said of Enos Curtis that he accepted Joseph before the church was organized. Enos and his family lived in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, near Harmony, for a number of years and here had the opportunity to learn about Joseph Smith. Also, in later years, Enos was one of the five missionaries sent out by the church in 1831, who preached the gospel to Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball.
While Ezra was yet a small boy, he, with his family, went through persecutions and mobbings of the saints. The family was driven in various moves, first from Kirtland, Ohio, then on to Missouri and later to Illinois. Ezra was a young man twenty-one years of age living in Nauvoo when Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred. He heard the last speech of the Prophet given on the public square, and often told his family he heard the Prophet say, “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but am calm as a summer’s morning.” When the saints wept, the Prophet told them to “Cheer up for every tear you shed shall be veiled up and poured out in wrath upon our enemies.”
When the saints were expelled from Nauvoo, Ezra, with his father’s family, went to Mt. Pisgah, Iowa, where he found and later married Lucinda Carter. He and Lucinda thereafter went to Council Bluffs where they spent three or four years before going to Utah. They crossed the plains with the Joseph Horne Company. Fortunately, they had a good team of horses, perhaps the only one in the company. The others were driving mostly teams of oxen. Ezra hunted game along the way and supplied the company with meat. His wife drove the wagon most of the way to Utah. He and his father-in-law Dominicus Carter, did blacksmith repair work for the company. Brother Carter was an excellent blacksmith by trade and Ezra learned much from him.
When they reached Utah, Ezra and his wife settled in Provo along with his father-in-law Dominicus Carter, as some of the first settlers of Provo. In addition to taking care of his own needs, Ezra was frequently called upon to aid others in the great western migration. The handcart companies of 1856, for example, were overtaken by cold weather and the early snows of the winter before they reached their destination. They suffered greatly from hunger and fatigue. Ezra, with others, was called to go with his team and wagon to assist the rescue party and bring the suffering travelers to the valley. He also served as a scout during the Indian troubles in Utah, sometimes being away for several weeks at a time before returning home. At times the drum, the call to “the minute men,” would beat in the night, and the brethren would be required to leave their families, not knowing where they were going or when they would return.
Later, Ezra was called to go to what is now the southern part of the State of Utah to help settle that section of the country. He and his brothers-in-law were the first men to settle in what later became known as Cedar City. Next they moved to Sevier River Valley where they helped settle and develop the area for a future town site which later became the town of Aurora. Ezra built the first home there, a log dwelling. Here they took up land and began building a canal. As a result, a substantial farming community was developed.
Ezra and Lucinda spent the remainder of their lives in Aurora. Lucinda died January 26, 1904. Ezra passed away eleven year later on August 28, 1915, at the age of ninety-one years, but he was fairly active for his years. Even at that point of life, he managed to get around and do a few chores. He fed calves, chopped wood, pulled weeds and did a number of odd jobs.

Ezra lived a long and useful life as a member of an early convert family, a rugged pioneer, and experienced colonizer, and a worthy servant of the Lord. Here was a man who devoted himself in loyalty to the Church leaders and helped build the Kingdom in the great west. 

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