The Josiah Curtis House
Built 1780 in Wethersfield, CT
The house was acquired in 1980, exactly 200 years after it was originally built in 1780 in Wethersfield (today Old Wethersfield), CT. The discovery of the initials IB and date 1780 carved into a hand planed wood board by the first landing of the front stairway, which was plastered over and discovered during dismantling, confirms the date. The initials are probably those of the builder or a workman. When discovered, the board had been put in place with the initials and date upside down, and was returned to this original position with the initials and date framed out and left un-plastered for viewing.
When the house was acquired for relocation to Salisbury, CT it was referred to as the Josiah Curtis House. According to Curtis genealogy, the first Josiah Curtis was born in the U.S. in 1721. If this Josiah Curtis built the house, he would have been 59 years old and his son Levi (born 1749) would have been 31 years old. However, the Curtis family genealogy could also support a time line supposition that Levi Curtis, son of the 1st. Josiah Curtis and father of the 2nd Josiah Curtis built the house in 1780 shortly after his marriage to Rhoda Stoddard in 1779.
Levi’s son Josiah (the 2nd) was also born in 1799. It appears further probable that Levi’s son, Josiah inherited the house and raised his own family of 7 children (assuming they all lived) in the house.
In addition to naming one of his 7 (recorded) children Josiah (the 3rd), Levi named another son Hezekiah Butler Curtis.
The initials HBC were discovered on the backside of the house’s sub-sheathing when a later period lean-to kitchen addition was removed. These initials undoubtedly belonged to Hezekiah Butler Curtis, the first-born child of Josiah Curtis and Betsy (or Anna) Butler.
As the house was referred to as the Josiah Curtis House at the time of its purchase and subsequent dismantling, and the discovery of Hezekiah’s initials, we know that at the very least three generations of Curtis family lived in the house; possibly more if the Wethersfield land records were researched. However, it is speculative by this writer that the house passed to Hezekiah as the first-born, and that it was Hezekiah who later painted his initials on the sub-sheathing when he possibly “modernized” the house by adding on the kitchen addition. The artistic treatment of the combined HB in the HBC initials and the larger stylized C is probably not the work of an adolescent or youngster, but of a more mature man.