Sarah Jane and Thomas's Birth Dates and Parents' Deaths
Family lore was that James Curtis was killed in the mines two weeks before Sarah Jane was born, and that her mother died during childbirth. But according to the birth certificate from the Registration District of Leeds, 1863....Birth in the Sub-district of North Leeds in the County of York, Sarah Jane was born on the 15th day of September in the Workhouse, Beckett Street, Leeds. Father was James Curtis, mother was Mary Curtis, formerly Garraughty. Father was a laboreur. The informant was listed on the certificate with the mark of Mary Curtis, mother, on the 19th of September.
A correspondence from A.J.Jamieson, Archivist, Leeds District Archives to Elizabeth Winter states that "If Mary died giving birth to Sarah Jane, she could not have registered the birth.." Nor was Elizabeth Winter able to find records of either parent's death in 1863.
Sarah Jane's brother, Thomas Curtis, apparently gave varying information about his birth. The death certificate (State of Montana, bureau of Vital Statistics) lists his year of birth as 1865. And his tombstone in Montana has 1863 carved into it.
But a correspondence from Robert E. Finnigan of the Leeds Diocesan Archives to Pat Gerrity states he was born May 27,1860. This is the most believable, as we always understood Thomas was an older brother to Sarah Jane.
The photo on the left above shows Aunt Ella at Thomas's grave. The photo on right was taken by Bill McDonnell in July, 2004 -- almost sixty years after Ella's death in Oct, 1944.