Henry John Curtis was the third child of Gersham Curtis and Elizabeth Jane Molyneaux. He was born on the 17th February 1854 on Prince Edward Island. He would have been less than a year old when the family set sail for NZ.
As a young man he had a gold claim at Lyell in the Buller Gorge and was involved in a court case in 1877/8 over a claim jumping dispute. He not only won his case but wrote a pem about it. He sent a copy of "The Jews Lament" to his sister in a letter.

Curtis's Cave                                           January 21, 1878
Dear Sister,
                     I was agreeably surprised on coming home last night to find a letter from you, also one from William. I think I will be able to fill up this paper for once. In the first place we have had a great law suit about the ground it cost us twenty five pounds to get a lawyer up from Westport but we won the case, it cost the other man about fifty, his name is George Knopp a Jew. After us finding this cave and getting payable gold in it he tried to jump a piece of ground the mouth of the cave thinking by doing so he would stop us from going down, but he was completely slewed. He also tried to do his own mate out of the claim tey had, they lost that case also. I composed a local song about him after the case was over, of which I will send you a copy, he is studying revenge now. There is quite a small rush here, the cave is pegged out from end to end, some how a report got in the paper that young Waites opened the cave but it was untrue, they were never out  here. And a cat could not get into it when first we found i untill we opened out the entrance. Mr. C. has the next claim to us. I do not know if it is any but the last claim at the lower end of the cave is very good. Our ground will pay us ten ounces a week when we have water, but that is only when it is raining like the devil, at present we have made nothing out of it. What with law suits and one thing and another, building a big dam, it has run away with all the gold. I have found another small cave here, no gold in it, but I got about two hundred weight of Moa bones out of it, some of them very perfect - there was never any found this side of the island before. There has been a lot sent down to Mr. Broad K.M. to Westport. I wish I could send you over a box of stalactites we have some beauties in our place. I will see if I can't send you some by the coach to Reefton and get them forwarded on. Now for the Jew's lament.

                                                      THE JEWS LAMENT.
Air the unfortunate man,
I went to the Lyle a summons to make
To see if I could not get rid of my mate
The case it is over my mate put me through
I am really a very unfortunate Jew.

With Curtis and party the case to I lost
The warden he told me to pay all the cost
The day I first saw them I ever shall rue
I am really a very unfortunate Jew.

When unto the warden the case I did state
He said it was sharp work between me and my mate
For Hill had found out just in time it wastrue
I am really a very unfortunate Jew.

This law case to me it has been a pill
But I do not care so much if I got rid of the Hill
And my friend Mrs. Quadri she's turned on me too
I am really a very unfortunate Jew.

And when I got back I was there just too late
The pegs were all in measured off by the tape
They are all against me, Oh what shall I do
I am really a very unfortunate Jew.

Through going to law I am left in the cold
And to make matters worse I've spent all my gold
My friends they are all coming down to a few
I am really a very unfortunate Jew.

If only I had won what money I'd save
With judgement for damages, likewise the cave
Will some one not tell me what course to pursue
I am really a very unfortunate Jew.

I'll go back to the Lyle my grief for to tell
I have all the expenses to pay in as well
My friend Mr. Metcalf will he be true
Perhaps he will say poor unfortunate Jew.

Metcalfe was the man that took his case in hand, if he won it he was to get one half of the ground.  He is the editor of the Lyell Argus.
                                                                         H. Curtis.


In Wise's Post Office Directories for 1880 - 1881 he is listed as a goldminer at Inangahua. He is also listed as such in the Electoral Rolls from 1882 to 1887. He was living some of this time in the Lyell also.
He met Elizabeth Hannah Bissett, nee Jones, some time around 1880. She was the daughter of Edward and Mary Ann Jones  and born in 1861 in Hobart. She had married a David Gardiner Bissett who was the Scottish born seacaptain of the brigantine "Sarah Pile".
After a daughter was born to them (Isabella) in Hokitika in 1879 he set sail andwas never heard of again.
Elizabeth and Henry John lived together and their first child, Elizabeth Rose, was born in Westport on 14th June 1881.
Henry John was born on 24th December 1882 at Channel Flat, Lyell.
Edward Curtis (known as Edwin) was born on 27th February 1884 at Flax Bush, near Lyell.
Arthur John was born on 27th July 1885 at Palmerston Street in Westport.
All the above children were originally registered with the Bissett surname as Henry John and Elizabeth did not marry until 9th March 1889 after she was declared a widow on 10th October 1888.
A month after the marriage the above children were all christened as CURTIS at the Anglican Church in Westport on 30th April 1889. The marriage was witnessed by Henry and Emma Swain.
Myrtle was born on 28th March 1889 in Westport.
Alfred Robert was born on 8th April 1891 in Westport.
Elida Ellen was born in 1893 in Westport.
Pearl Cecelia was born on the 10th November 1895 in Westport.
William George was born on the 19th February 1899 in Westport.
Ruby Mary Ann was born on the 6th of July 1900 in Westport.
Hinemoa was born on the 10th June 1902 in Westport.

The family originally lived at Russell Street then later moved to 145 Peel Street. Henry worked as a goldminer, a carpenter and a boat builder. Some of the boats that sailed on the Buller River had been built by Henry.
Elizabeth Hannah's daughter took her own life (for no apparent reason) by jumping into the Buller River. She is supposedly buried along with Gersham and young William George.
He died at his home in Westport on the 21st of June 1922 and Elizabeth Hannah also died at home on the 21st of August 1949. They are both buried in the Orowaiti Cemetery in Westport.





Elizabeth Hannah and Henry John.
Henry John with wife and sons.
Family Outing: From left Hinemoa, Ruby, Pearl (rear), Myrtle, Lizzie with Gwynne on lap, Darcy Thomas front, possibly Cliff Thomas with hat at rear, Arthur (Edwin's son) on Elizabeth Hannah's lap.
Born 14 June 1881 Westport.
Died 10 May 1982 Westport.
Known as Lizzie. Lived some of the time up in the North Island with Pattersons.
Elizabeth Rose Curtis married Charles Mathew Martin in Westport on the 11th June 1910. 
Charles was born 23 October 1874 in Westport and died 16 July 1952 in Westport.
Elizabeth Rose Curtis
Hinemoa, Myrtle, Charles Martin, Elizabeth Rose, Edwin and Ruby.
ELIZABETH ROSE CURTIS
Myrtle Curtis
Born 25 March 1889 Westport.
Died after birth of Barbara Elizabeth on  13th November 1931 in Westport.
She is buried at Orowaiti Cemetery in Westport (plot E1167/8) along with husband.
Worked for the Westport News typing.
Myrtle married Clifford Hart Thomas in 1913. Witnesses at the wedding were H.D. Mace and E.E. Curtis.
Myrtle and Clifford had the following children all born in Westport:
Clifford Darcy b. 29th March 1916.
Gwynne Hinemoa Hannah b. 7th October 1917 d. 8 May 1921.
Curtis Hart b. 15th April 1920 d. 1968.
Margaret Ethel b. 1th July 1922.
Alwyn Patricia b. 30th March 1927.
Barbara Elizabeth b. 13th November 1931.
Ruby looked after them for three years after Myrtle died.
Hinemoa took Margaret to school when she started.
Elida Ellen Curtis
Born 2nd June 1893 Westport.
Died 7 August 1990 Auckland.
Married Walter Richard Clayworth in 1917.
Walter b. 1887 d. 7 October 1938 Alfredton.
Witnesses at the wedding were Edwin Clayworth, Guy Clayworth and Pearl Cecelia Curtis.
After her husband died Elida moved back to the South Island to be close to her family. Ian Henry was about 11 years old at the time. She purchased a section in Bartletts Rd., hope/Ranzau. Supported her family by apple p[icking and knitting. A very hard worker and grew all her own food.


Pearl Cecelia, Walter Richard Clayworth, Elida Ellen and ? Clayworth.
Curtis Hart, Margaret Ethel, Myrtle and Clifford Darcy.
Edwin Curtis
Born 27th February 1884 Flax Bush, near Lyell. Died 1959. Registered as Edward at birth.
Married Maud Ursula Hirter on 11th June 1912 in Westport. Witnesses at wedding were Walter Clayworth and Myrtle Curtis. Maud died 26 September 1945.
Stones Directory of 1948 lists Edwin as a cycle mechanic of Peel St. Westport.
Edwin and Maud were divorced some time after the birth of their fourth child. Edwin went back to live with his mother after the separation. Maud supposedly involved with other men.
Offspring:
Maria Ellen b. 1913 A clever child known as Nell as a child - left home at twelve to live in Wellington with Hirter grandmother. Ran DIC in ChCh then worked for Craddocks Garage in Westport until retired.
Arthur James Henry b. 19 April 1915 d. 26 December 1986 Timaru. Married Mavis Nelson b. 5 December 1918 d. 30 August 1988.
June b. 1920 Married James (Jim) Mouat.  Lived Invercargill.
Molly b. 1922. Married George Eric Daly.





The local newspaper wrote of the wedding:

A pretty wedding was celebrated at the residence of the bride's parents last Saturday, the contracting parties being Mr. C. Martin, youngest son of the late Mr. J. Martin, and Miss Lizzie Curtis, eldest daughter of Mr. H. Curtis of Westport. The ceremony was prformed by the Rev. J.R. Dart. The bride, who was given away by her father, was attired in cream voille, prettily trimmed with silk insertion, wore the usual veil and orange blossoms, and carried a white prayer-book, the gift of her mother. The chief bridesmaid, Miss Myrtle Curtis, wore a pretty cream dress, trimmed with insertion and carried a bouquet of cream roses and honeysuckle. The bride's two small sisters, Misses Ruby and Hinemoa wore white silk, relieved with pink and pink silk bonnets. The bridegroom's present to the bride was a handsome watch and chain, and to each of the bridesmaids a pretty gold brooch; the bride's present to the bridegroom  a handsome watchguard. Mr. E. Curtis acted as best man. The happy couple who have the best wishes of a large circle of friends, were the recipiants of many useful and handsome presents.
Charles was a builder and built their house at 145 Romley Street. Her niece thought she was inclined to be prim and proper. They had no children of their own but when her younger sister died in childbirth, Elizabeth and Charles adopted the baby, Barbara Elizabeth.
Elizabeth Rose was a staunch Anglican.
Charlie was a patient little man who was pleasant and easy-going. Lizzie allowed him sixpence a week to have a beer.
She lived in Kirsty Home for the last five years of her life. She was then still fit as a fiddle but her kidneys packed up and she died.
Ruby, Angus William Douglas (Bill), Pearl Cecelia and L.J. Douglas.
William George Curtis
Born 23 February 1899 Westport.  Died 31st May 1901 Westport. Supposedly buried in old part of Orowaiti Cemetery along with Gersham and Isabella Bissett.
Pearl Cecelia Curtis
Born 10th November 1895. Died 20th July 1971.
Married 28th April 1924 at St. John's, Westport to Angus William Douglas b. 21 November 1890 d. 22 October 1946. Witnesses at wedding L.J. Douglas and Ruby Curtis.
Offspring all born in Westport:
Noel Henry Douglas b. 18th April 1925.
Ronald Douglas b. 20th September 1926.
Allison Elizabeth Douglas b. 22nd January 1928.
Zona Alice Douglas b. 2nd January 1930.
Keith Williams Douglas b. 14th April 1931.
Ruby Douglas b. 5th January 1935.
Arthur Leslie Douglas b. 28th September 1940.


Ruby Mary Ann Curtis
Born 6th July 1890 Westport. Died 2nd August 1971 Westport.
Never married.  1960 Electoral Roll lists her as residing 122 Romilly St., Westport, spinster.

Henry John Curtis
Born 24th December 1882 Channel Flat, Lyell. Died 24th December 1918 Westport.
Ruby Mary Ann and Hinemoa.
Hinemoa.
Hinemoa Curtis
Born 10th June 1902 Westport. Died 22nd May 1975 Westport.
Married her widowed brother-in-law, Clifford Hart Thomas 1933 in Westport.
Trained as a nurse.
Offspring all born in Westport:
Pamela Mary b. 24th August 1935.
Albert George b. 6th December 1936.
David Lloyd b. 18th January 1939.
Elizabeth Magan b. 2nd February 1942.



Alfred Robert Curtis
Born 8th April 1891 Westport. Died 9th October 1919.
Married Jessie Jane Voyce 1912 Westport. Witnesses to marriage were William David Ballard and Annie Voyce.
Said to be the bad egg of the family. There is thought to be a son by the marriage.
Arthur John Curtis
Born 27th July 1885. Died 27th October 1947.
Never married. Worked for Westport Times until he retired.
The chocolate uncle to his nephews and nieces - giving them half a crown. 
After he retired he worked as a roadman at Waimea Creek at the start of the Buller Gorge. Lived in a tent with wooden sides and sacks on floor about five miles up. Always had a fox terrier - one of which was called Pickles.
He walked to town every weekend with his dog. At 145 Peel Street when home. A heavy drinker.