The Shanks

The Curtis Family

he Curtis family is believed to have immigrated from England to Colonial Virginia in the early 1700s.  They had two sons born in Virginia; Thomas and James.

Thomas was born in Colonial Virginia circa 1725.  He and had five sons; Moses, James W., Fielding Wood Sr., John and Hillary.

Moses was born around 1760 in Virginia.  After the fall of Charleston, Moses served in Colonel Brandon’s Regiment[1] [2] a part of the South Carolina Militia during the American Revolution.  In 1780 he married Patsey Staggs in South Carolina with whom he had five children with; Hillary, Ephraim, Harlan, Fielding Russell and Joel.  Moses died in 1830 in Jackson County, Tennessee.

Hillary Curtis, Sr. was born in 1795 in Union County, South Carolina.  He wed Susannah Gulley in 1815 with whom he had nine children with; Moses Moore, Bilbry, William B., George T., Hillary Jr., Jane, Martha Jane, James Thomas and Rebecca “Hannah”.  The family lived in Tennessee where most of the births occurred then later relocated to Arkansas. [3] Hillary Sr. died in Arkansas in 1864.

Moses & Elizabeth Curtis

Moses Moore Curtis was born in Purdy, Tennessee in January of 1818.  His first wife was Louisa Nixon who died within 2 years of their marriage.  A year later he married Elizabeth Blackshear on October 8, 1842 in Lincoln, Tennessee. [7] During the years 1844 until 1869 they had a total of fourteen children, one being Robert.  Moses has several occupations, he had worked as a wagoner,[4] an overseer,[3] had a job at a planing mill[5] and had also been a farmer.  During the American Civil War he enlisted with the Confederate States of America and was a private in Captain Roberts Company – Mississippi Artillery[8] [9] while two of his brothers joined the Union Army.  By 1900 Moses was living with his one son, Jefferson “Jeff” Davis[6].  Moses was laid to rest in Tishomingo, Mississippi.

Jefferson "Jeff" Davis

Robert Curtis was born August of 1847 in Tishomingo, Mississippi.  He had worked both as a farmer [10] and as a night watchman.[6] His first marriage was May 14, 1868 to Martha F. Russell, they had one child together, Emma Elizabeth.  Robert later married Josephine McClure on Christmas Eve 1878 in Giles, Tennessee.  Robert and Josie had 5 children of their own; Berty I., Anna B., Edgar H., Minnie M., and Effie Lee.  Robert passed away July 10, 1923 in Little Rock, Arkansas.[12]

Emma Curtis Shanks

Emma (Curtis) Shanks

Emma Elizabeth Curtis was born in Tishomingo, Mississippi on September 29, 1875.  Her first marriage to a man with the last name of Schoggin and resulted in his death 3 years later. [6] Emma returned to living with her father and stepmother and worked as a seamstress with her two older half sisters; Berty and Anna.  She then married David Crockett Shanks with whom she bore three children with; Robert D., Edgar H. (which happens to be the name of her half brother), and Genie Louvenia.  The family had lived in Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas.  David C. Shanks petitioned for a divorce and it was finalized before Genie’s 13th. birthday in Pulaski County, Arkansas.  By 1930 Emma went on to become a live-in servant for the Lauck family of Hill, Arkansas. [11] In her later years she relocated to South Gate, California and lived with her eldest son and his wife. [13] until her passing on May 16, 1957.


  1. Ross, Bobby Gilmer “Roster of the South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution”, Volume I, A-J
  2. Daughters of the American Revolution magazine, Volumes 43-45
  3. 1860 U.S. Census of Population
  4. 1850 U.S. Census of Population
  5. 1870 U.S. Census of Population
  6. 1900 U.S. Census of Population
  7. Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002
  8. Confederate Capt. Roberts’ Co., Art’y Miss, Company Muster Roll dated 29 Sept. 1861
  9. U.S. Southern Claims Commission Master Index, 1871-1880
  10. 1880 U.S. Census of Population
  11. 1930 U.S. Census of Population
  12. Division of Vital Records, Arkansas, Dept. of Health.  Akansas Death Index 1914-1950. Arkansas: Arkansas Genealogical Society.
  13. California Voter Registrations, 1900-1968
Last Updated:  February 2011

The Curtis Family & The American Revolutionary War

The Fall of Charleston ~ May 12, 1780

n early 1780, General Henry Clinton sent about 10,000 of his Redcoats in to Charleston which was being defended by General Benjamin Lincoln and his Patriots.  Charleston was the most important American port south of Philadelphia and was under a very effective siege by the Redcoats, the Patriots became trapped.

Charleston, South Carolina (1780) ~ Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

The shelling began and the British bombardments were hitting their targets.  The people of the city had very little with which to fight back.  Gen. Lincoln offered to give up the city if the Redcoats would allow his men to leave.  Unfortunately Gen. Clinton’s response was to inundate them with even more shelling.

The situation grew worse as Gen. Clinton ordered a non-stop barrage on Charleston on May 9, 1780.  The city erupted in flames, buildings were reduced to rubble and its citizens could endure no more.  With no where else to turn, Gen. Lincoln was forced to surrender Charleston.

Over 5400 men lost their lives in the battle and the Patriots suffered a devastating loss of armament losing 10 warships, four hundred cannons and countless ammunition.  Any hope the people had of independence was fading.  The loyalist in the Carolinas began to openly support the crown and the leaders in the North believed Britain would retain Georgia and the Carolinas.  The fall of Charleston was the Patriot’s lowest point in the war.

Most South Carolinians were pledging allegiance to the crown, as the glimmer of freedom was rapidly vanishing.  At this time Moses Curtis entered into the war joining Brandon’s Regiment with the South Carolina Militia.  His brother, Fielding Wood Curtis Sr., joined the Continental Army.  They both fought in many battles together, the most infamous battle being “The Battle of the Cowpens” which occurred on January 17, 1781 and drove Cornwallis and his army out of the Carolinas.  Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Patriot” is a fictionalized version of that battle.

Curtis Family and the American Civil War

oses Moore Curtis enlisted September 29, 1861 with the 3rd. Mississippi Infantry ~ Confederate States of America,  yet two of his younger brothers; William and Hillary Jr., enlisted three years later with the 3rd. Arkansas Union Cavalry Regiment, Co. I and fought for the other side.

The Seven Stars Light Artillery was commissioned by Governor Petus on May 14, 1861 and contained two captains; Capt. Hezekiah G.D. Brown and Capt. Calvit Roberts.  The unit started out as Captain H.G.D. Brown’s Company.  In August 30, 1831 the unit received its orders and was to be a part of the 3rd. Mississippi Infantry.  The company subsequently changed its name to Captain Roberts Company, Mississippi Artillery.   Capt. Roberts was the brother-in-law of Capt. Brown.

Moses Moore Curtis Company Muster Roll

The unit, like many other C.S.A. units, was stationed in Jackson, Mississippi due to the fact all major rail lines ran through the area.  There were thousands of troops that marked the landscape with scores of tented campsites.  Capt. Brown petitioned the State’s Quartermaster Department for tents, camping equipment and rations.  Recruiting notices appeared in the local papers and posters were tacked to nearly every tree, building and wagon calling for volunteers.  The women labored with needle and thread to clothe the men for the field.

Moses enlisted at Camp Clark located in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and was mustered into Confederate service by Lt. Carleton Hunt from the Louisiana Artillery.  Most of the enlisted were men were from Copiah, Rankin, Hinds, and Simpson Counties in Mississippi.

The unit was considered “light” artillery due to the fact they only had four Smoothbores, two Howitzers (one 6 lb. and one 12 lb.) and two rifles.

On July 9, 1863 most of the unit was captured at Port Hudson and the unit was paroled the same month.  In February of 1864 the unit disbanded into three companies; A (old A and E), B (old B and D), and C which folded into Moorman’s Cavalry on February 23, 1864.  Many of the men from Capt. Roberts Company went onto serve in other Mississippi commands.

Even though Arkansas was a Confederate state, Little Rock  fell to Union Forces in 1863.  Arkansans supporting the Union formed some eleven infantry regiments, four cavalry regiments, and two artillery batteries to serve in the Union Army. None of those saw any heavy combat actions and few took part in any major battles they served mostly as by patrolling areas that had heavy Confederate activity.  It is during this is the time that the two brothers joined along with many others recruited primarily from Conway, Yell & Pulaski Counties in Arkansas.

The Shanks Family

David C. Shanks

David C. Shanks (Cir. 1899) U.S. Army

avid Crockett (D.C.) Shanks was born in Clarksville, Tennessee on October 9, 1876.[1] David was married to Emma Elizabeth Curtis and they had three children together; Robert David (R.D.), Edgar H. and Genie Louvenia, all born in Tennessee.  D.C. worked as a painter [2] before enlisting in the United States Army in 1899.  Ten years later he became a farmer during World War I. [1] In 1910 the family was living in New Decatur Town, Morgan County, Alabama[3] but by 1920 they had relocated to Eagle Township in Pulaski County, Arkansas.[4] A few years later the couple divorced on July 5, 1924 in Pulaski County, Arkansas.[5] He then married Ella, fourteen years his junior. By 1930 the couple lived in Los Angeles at which time David worked as a butcher.[12] He passed away February 3, 1933 and is buried at the National Cemetery in Los Angeles.[16]

Gertrude & R.D. Shanks

Gertrude & R.D. Shanks

R.D. Shanks was born on October 6, 1907.  He married Gertrude Shackelford on February 15, 1941 in Garland, Arkansas.  They had two children together; Charles and Geraldine.  During the course of their marriage the moved from Arkansas to South Gate, California.  R.D. passed away on December 4, 1974 and was buried two days later at Landmark Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas[6].  Gertrude survived for nearly thirty years longer and was buried at the same cemetery in February, 2002[6].

Edgar Shanks

Edgar Shanks Family

Edgar Shanks was born on January 11, 1910.   He was married to Edith with whom he had two daughters with; Donna and Jeanne.   The couple was living in South Gate, California when Edgar passed away at 53 years of age in an area hospital on September 24, 1963.  He was buried two days later at Park Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles[7].  Aside from his wife and children he was also survived by five grandchildren.

Genie Louvenia Shanks

Genie Shanks

Genie Shanks was born August 29, 1911 in Davidson County, Tennessee[8].  At the young age of 15 she married Ned O. Bates on March 28, 1926 in Lonoke, Arkansas[9]. The couple had a daughter, Thelma L. Bates, that died in infancy [10] [11], they divorced shortly after.  After the divorce Genie went to live with her brother Robert in Little Rock, Arkansas.[12] Genie then wed George Russenberger on October 24, 1931 in Saline, Arkansas[13].  They had one son, Manuel David Russenberger.  After George passed away in 1971, Genie moved west to California and later married again to Vincent Celani[14] who later passed away in 1989.  Genie passed away in 1994 in Indio, California[15], her remains were cremated.  In addition to her son she was survived by one granddaughter.


  1. World War I Draft Registration Card (dated 12-Sep-1918), Serial No. 367, Order No. 197
  2. United States Army Register of Enlistment 1899, Page 170, Line 4
  3. 1910 U.S. Census of Population
  4. 1920 U.S. Census of Population
  5. Arkansas Divorce Index 1923-1939
  6. Arkansas Ties website
  7. Obituary published Sept. 26, 1963 on page B-8, unknown newspaper
  8. Davidson County, Tennessee births
  9. Arkansas County Marriage Records, 1837-1957, Page 171
  10. Obituary published in unknown newspaper
  11. Arkansas Ties email
  12. 1930 U.S. Census of Population
  13. Arkansas County Marriage Records, 1837-1957, Page 349
  14. State of California, Riverside County, Marriage Certificate (dated 18-Jul-1979)
  15. Riverside County Death Certificate
  16. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Nationwide Gravesite Locator.
Last updated:  February 2011