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Madera Biographies: CURTIN

Cornelius Curtin
Etta Martin Curtin

   CORNELIUS CURTIN, At the time he came to Madera in 1889 Mr. Curtin found a small hamlet, with meager business facilities and little promise for the future.  However, with keen discernment he detected favorable indications and resolved to identify himself with the town, a decision which he had no occasion to regret.  On the other hand, the competency which he enjoys has been accumulated entirely since he came to his present location and represents the results of his investments and business enterprises here.  While his interests have been varied, his name is especially associated with the livery business which he conducts and with the raising of stock on his stock farm.

    Of eastern birth and Irish parentage, Cornelius Curtin was born in Franklin County, N. Y., December 22, 1860, and was third among seven children, all but one of whom are still living.  Two of his brothers, Matthew and Daniel, own and operate farms in Tulare County, the former who was an early settler of California, having been for some time a resident of Yolo County.  The father, John Curtin came from Ireland and settled upon a farm in New York, where he remained until his death.  His wife, who bore the maiden name of Mrs. Spillings, was born in Ireland and died in February 1904, on the home farm in New York at eighty-four years of age.  The boyhood years of Cornelius Curtin were uneventfully passed in assisting on the home farm and attending the public schools of the district.  He was sixteen when he started out to earn his own way in the world.  Ambitions to settle in the west he came to California.  Almost all of his money had been spent in railroad fare and he had but $5 left when he reached Sacramento.  Starting out to seek work, he was met by the tax collector, who made him pay a poll tax of $2. This beginning did not seem auspicious, but to a young man of energy and good health the lack of money is not a discourage fact.

    On his second day in California Mr. Curtin secured work on a hay press and continued at the same place for two months.  He then went to Merced County, where he worked as a farm and by the month for two and one-half years.  Next he secured employment on a farm in Tulare County and from there in the spring of 1880 came to Madera.  For two years he drove a stage from Madera to Yosemite.  In 1882 he started a livery business on the block where he still remains buying the corner where he has since conducted business.  His first building, a frame stable, was destroyed by fire in 1880, be he rebuilt the same year and now has a two-story stable, 100 x 150 feet in dimensions, and with sheds besides, the total capacity being over two hundred head of horses. The livery is the largest in the county.  A full assortment of vehicles is kept, suitable for any purpose desired.  In addition to the barn, Mr. Curtin owns three hundred acres of irrigatable land adjoining the city on the south and under cultivation t alfalfa and grain, besides which he owns a stock ranch in the foothills.

    The family residence erected by Mr. Curtain, stands on Yosemite Street.  After coming to Madera he married Etta Martin, who was born in Kansas and died in this city, leaving a son, William, a graduate in the June class of 1904, Santa Clara College.  In religion Mr. Curtin is a Roman Catholic and a contributor to the charities of his church.  He co-operated in all movements for the benefit of Madera, including the Board of Trade, which has been a helpful agent in the growth of the town.  His political allegiance is given to the Democratic Party, in which he has been a prominent local worker, having been for some time a member of the County Central Committee and its chairman for one term.

Guinn, J. M., History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the San Joaquin Valley, California, (Chicago: Chapman Publishing, 1905), page 613.

Transcribed by Harriet Sturk.

Last update: September 5, 2000
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