Charles Curtis, United States senator from Kansas, was born in North Topeka, Kan., forty-nine years ago, on Jan. 25, 1860, being the son of O. A. Curtis, a soldier in the Union army, and his mother, Helen Pappan, a daughter of Julia Gonville, who is mentioned in the treaty of 1825 between the United States government and the Kansas tribe of Indians. He is the first member of Indian blood elected to the senate. During his boyhood he was very fond of horses, acquired quite a local reputation for horsemanship, and for a period of nine years was a jockey, riding race horses, but he soon conceived that an education was essential to success. He was energetic, ambitious, and bound to succeed, and as he saw it was incumbent upon himself to work out his destiny, entered the public schools of Topeka. He worked incessantly, at every available time, selling newspapers, driving a hack in Topeka between school hours, devoting the proceeds of his earnings to the completion of his education, thus, as subsequent events proved, rising by sheer force of will and unwavering purpose from the lowliest of occupations to one of the highest offices in the gift of the state. Having by energy, enterprise and thrift completed his elementary education, he conceived the idea of making the profession of law his life work and in 1879 entered the office of A. H. Case, at that time noted as one of the ablest criminal lawyers in the state, and under his tutelage, young Curtis made such progress that in 1881 he was admitted to the bar. Mr. Case recognized the judicial faculty of his pupil and soon proposed a partnership, which was formed the same year. In 1884, Mr. Curtis turned his attention to politics, another rung in the ladder of his ambition, and in the fall was elected attorney for Shawnee county, which office he filled with ability four years. As prosecuting attorney he surprised everybody by his thorough knowledge of law and his efficient performance of the duties which the position he held imposed upon him, as it was during his administration that the prohibition law was first enforced. In 1892 he was elected by a flattering majority to Congress, and notwithstanding the fact that the state legislature redistricted Kansas, changing his representative district from Fourth to First, he was reëlected from the new district until 1907, when he was elected to the United States senate. During his fourteen years of Congressional life Mr. Curtis was recognized as one of the earnest, hard working representatives. He was a valued member of the ways and means committee, ranking high in the councils of the party, and was one of the committee of eleven Republicans to draft a gold standard bill, which was enacted into a law. Mr. Curtis was largely instrumental in the passage of the Indian appropriation bill, while a member of the house, and on the third day after he was sworn in as senator the bill came up before that body, and disregarding all precedent, which required a senator to pass his noviate in silence, made a speech which demonstrated to the older senators that a new and intelligent factor had become identified with them upon the subject of Indian affairs. Senator Long, appreciating the peculiar fitness and ability of his colleague to assist in properly shaping such legislation, resigned from the committee on Indian affairs and recommended the appointment of Mr. Curtis as his successor, and this action was taken. Since the reorganization of the senate the committee on committees has placed him, one of the youngest members of the senate, upon that important committee, and has also selected him as a member of the committee on appropriations, an honor rarely conferred upon so young a member of that august body. Through the efforts of Mr. Curtis and his colleagues, Forts Riley and Leavenworth have been made the greatest forts in the country and it is due to his efforts that a change of policy was made in reference to the disposition of the timber lands of the Chippewa Indians which will save between ten and fifteen million dollars to the Indians and the government.
On Nov. 27, 1884, Mr. Curtis married Annie E. Baird, who was born in Pennsylvania, Dec. 24, 1861. The Curtis family is interesting. The senator himself is like one of the Indians of Fennimore Coopertall, straight, with coal black hair, a swarthy complexion and interesting face. There are three children in the family: Permelia, the oldest, who lives at home; Henry, a student at the University of Michigan, who is making a name for himself as a brilliant scholar; and Leona, who has been a student at the University of Kansas, and is now attending school at Washington, D. C. Mr. Curtis has a beautiful home on Topeka avenue, Topeka. Kan., where the doors are ever open to their many friends.Pages 20-22 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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