Biography of Richard Curtis, Jr.

First Baptist Minister in Mississippi

Richard Curtis, Jr. was born in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, on May 20, 1756; son of Richard Curtis, Sr. and Phoebe, widow of William Jones.

Richard Curtis, Sr., and family (there was a stepson, John Jones, who married Anna, daughter of William Brown on 28 Jun 1768, and five sons and three daughters) resided in 1775 on the Great Pee Dee River, near the mouth of Black River, South Carolina, but came to the Natchez Country in 1780, where Richard Curtis, Sr. died near Cole’s Creek on November 10, 1784.

Accompanying Richard Curtis, Sr. to the Natchez Country were 3 sons, a stepson (John Jones) and 2 sons-in-law, three of whom later became pioneer citizens of Amite County: (1) son Richard, Jr. and his wife Pattie; (2) Son William Curtis and his wife; (3) and daughter Hannah Curtis, wife of John Courtney.

Richard Curtis, Jr., who had been licensed as a Baptist Minister in South Carolina in 1778, began to preach throughout the Natchez Country but especially in the Salem Community near Cole’s Creek. In 1795 he ran afoul of the Spanish authorities for preaching and officiating at the marriage of his niece, Phoebe Jones to David Greenleaf, and he was forced to return to South Carolina, where he was ordained in 1796. He returned to the Mississippi Territory in 1798, and as Moderator helped to organize in due and ancient form Salem Baptist Church on Cole’s Creek in Jefferson County as a regular Baptist Church, the first in Mississippi.

On May 9, 1806, Rev. Richard Curtis, Jr., assisted by Rev. Thomas Mercer, Rev. James Courtney from South Carolina, Rev. Isaac Jackson from New Providence Baptist Church and Rev. Jonathan Curtis from Salem Baptist Church, constituted the Ebenezer Baptist Church on Beaver Creek in Amite County and was the first Pastor.

Among the charter members were Mary Curtis, and his brother-in-law, John Courtney, both with letters from Salem Baptist Church on Cole’s Creek.

Mary Curtis (wife or daughter?) dismissed by letter on October 1, 1808.

Rev. Richard Curtis, Jr., was Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Adams County, Mississippi (organized in 1800 and was the second Baptist Church in Mississippi), and a messenger to the Mississippi Baptist Association in 1808-1811.

Rev. Richard Curtis, Jr., was disallowed a claim of settlement on Beaver Creek in Amite County in 1802, because the land was not improved, but was granted 320 acres there in 1808. He is listed as a citizen of Amite County in the Census of 1805 and 1810. (A relative also named Richard Curtis is listed in the Census of 1810 and 1816.)

Rev. Richard Curtis, Jr. died of cancer on Beaver Creek in Amite County, Mississippi on October 28, 1811, and is buried in the yard of what was years later the residence of Dr. W. b. Kinnabrew, about 1/2 mile from Ebenezer Baptist Church, and there is a marble obelisk in the churchyard.

John Courtney, brother-in-law of Richard Curtis, Sr., was appointed delegate from Ebenezer Baptist Church of Amite County, Mississippi on January 31, 1807, to attend the organization meeting of the Mississippi Baptist Association at Cole’s Creek Church.

He settled with his wife, Hannah Curtis, and 7 children on 666 acres on Beaver Creek, Section 30, Township 1 north, range 3 east in November, 1802.

Brother Benjamin Curtis, brother-in-law John Stampley, a Baptist Minister, and half brother John Jones and their families settled in the Cole’s Creek area of the Mississippi Territory.

(The author of the above, who remains anonymous, inserted following note. jtd)

The second Baptist Church organized in Mississippi was located at the confluence of Big Bayou Pierre and Little Bayou Pierre in Claiborne County, Mississippi. This area is not in the city limits of Port Gibson, Mississippi.

The second Baptist Church in Mississippi was organized in 1798, in Claiborne County, Mississippi and was know as Bayou Pierre Baptist Church. It ceased to exist in 1825

Submitted by Jeanne Truly Davis, January 2002.

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