The memorial Augusta Munson Curtis gave for her husband and daughter stands today; she herself is all but invisible.
She was born June 17, 1833 in Greenfield, New York, the daughter of Jesse and Sophia Tal-madge Munson. Her father, a timber merchant, later moved to Bradford, New York. Augusta was sent to Madame Draper’s Seminary in Hartford.
She met George Curtis in the late 1840s: George’s diaries record carefully chaperoned outings to local beauty spots which included her at age 15. George had been a dry goods clerk and a teacher. But in January 1853 he began at Meriden Britannia Company, becoming treasurer the following year. Augusta’s father probably bought him into the business. If so, Jesse made a good investment.
Augusta and George were married in Bradford, May 22, 1855, and returned to Meriden to live at 26 Washington Street. Augusta’s diary (1877-1900) records chiefly mundane domestic events.
They had three children: George, Frederick, and Agnes. Frederick died young, but the other two have descendants. George died May 20, 1893, two days short of their 38th wedding anniversary. “The saddest of all records, dear George died this a.m. at ten o’clock,” Augusta wrote in her journal.
Exactly seven years later, Augusta had to write, “My dear Agnes died at 5:40 Friday, peacefully and with Christian fortitude and hope. . . everyone seemed to mourn for her untimely death.” It was her last journal entry.
In 1900, a public library was a strong civic cause. Augusta announced, on December 1, that she would provide a library if the town would provide $3,000 annually to run it. Meriden accepted, and the completed building was dedicated in 1902.
Augusta’s last years were marred by Alzheimer’s. She died, aged 80, on April 1, 1914. Her obituary noted that she and her husband had been “an ideal couple, and found the highest happiness in giving ungrudgingly of the time, talent and money to the work of making the lot of other people happier.”
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