18 August 2012

Thomas Curry

1856 — 1925

Biographical Material

Tom Curry.   One of the oldest newspapers in Northwest Missouri is the Holt County Sentinel, which was established in 1865, and which has been publishing the news, carrying the local advertising, and doing an excellent service in boosting for the welfare of that county for nearly half a century.

The proprietors are the firm of Dobyns & Curry, and the junior member, Tom Curry, is one of the veterans of Missouri journalism.

A descendant of Revolutionary stock, Tom Curry was born in Plymouth County, Iowa, October 27, 1856, and has the distinction of being the first white child born in that county.  His parents were James Barnes and Mary (Philbrick) Curry.  James Barnes Curry was a grandson of Dr. Thomas Curry of Crawfordsville, Indiana, who in turn was a son of Hiram Mirick Curry, who was with General Washington at Valley Forge and a number of years later served also as a soldier in the War of 1812.  Tom Curry through his mother is of Danish lineage, being descended from Providenze Montz, who emigrated to this country and settled in Beesontown, Virginia, during the Indian wars.

Tom Curry was brought to Holt County, Missouri, in July 1857, and with the exception of a brief absence for experience on a metropolitan newspaper that county has been his home ever since.  When seventeen years old he began learning the printer's trade as an apprentice on the Missouri Valley Times, when Hasness & Kaucher were its editors and publishers.  He also was employed on the old Holt County Press.  In 1883 Mr. Curry became a partner of D. P. Dobyns on the Holt County Sentinel, the firm name being changed to Dobyns & Curry the same year, and that title has now existed for more than thirty years.  For ten years, from 1897 to 1907, Mr. Curry served as postmaster of Oregon.

On February 18, 1885, Mr. Curry and Wilhelmina Fiegenbaum were united in marriage, and they have become the parents of two children:  Will R. and Anna Helen, the latter now the wife of Johnson J. Rayhill of Milo, Missouri.  Mrs. Curry is the daughter of Rev. and Mrs. Henry Fiegenbaum of St. Joseph, Missouri, her father having been a pioneer minister of the German M. E. Church.

Source: Walter Williams, editor, A History of Northwest Missouri (Chicago, New York: Lewis Publishing Company, 1915) vol. 2, pages 1,288-1,289.

The citizens of Oregon learned with much sorrow early on Wednesday morning, 18 November 1925, that Mr. Tom Curry, publisher of The Sentinel, had died about 3:45 o'clock that morning.  While Mr. Curry had been in failing health for many years, and especially in most recent months, he had a most remarkable constitution, and remained active in business affairs up to the time of his death.  He had been at the office the greater part of the preceding day, and about 8 o'clock that evening had gone to the office on a little business.  He returned to his home after a few minutes and about 1:30 o'clock Wednesday morning became ill, and passed away while sitting in his chair, about 3:45 o'clock.  Death was the result of heart trouble, from which he had been a patient sufferer for many years.  It was indeed a shock to his good wife, who was alone with him at the time.  For many years Mr. Curry had suffered from kidney trouble, but he possessed such a wonderful constitution that he carried on his business affairs.  Since the death of the late D. P. Dobyns, which occurred 3 July 1924, Mr. Curry had been the sole proprietor of The Sentinel, and it was ever his ambition to maintain it as one of the leading weeklies of the state.  Mr. Curry became associated with The Sentinel in August 1883, when he and Mr. Dobyns purchased the paper from W. W. Davenport, and this partnership continued until terminated by the death of Mr. Dobyns.  For forty-two consecutive years Mr. Curry has been actively engaged in the production of The Sentinel, having had the management during most of these years, and as a result he had a wide acquaintance throughout Northwest Missouri, and in fact throughout the whole state.  It is doubtful if any one man had a bigger acquaintance in the county than he, and he possessed the faculty of making friends of all with whom he came in contact.  On 18 February 1885, Mr. Curry and Miss Wilhelmina Fiegenbaum were united in marriage, and during all these years Mrs. Curry has been a most valuable aid to him in his business affairs.  Besides the widow, he is survived by one son, Will R. Curry of the Indianapolis, Indiana Star; and Mrs. J. J. Rayhill of Stanberry, Missouri; four grandchildren, and two brothers, Autumn Curry, cashier of the Zook & Roecker Bank in Oregon and Mont Curry of Kansas City.  Mr. Curry was born in Plymouth County, Iowa 27 October 1856, being the first white child born in that county.  When a child of but two years, his parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Curry, removed to Oregon, where he attended our schools and when seventeen years of age began to learn the printing business, being an apprentice of the Missouri Valley Times, when Harness & Kaucher were editors and publishers.  He also worked on the old Holt County Press, and a short time he spent in the employ of metropolitan papers, and in 1883 began his connection with The Sentinel.  For ten years, 1897-1907, Mr. Curry served as postmaster of Oregon.  Funeral services will be conducted from the Oregon M. E. Church, Friday afternoon, 20 November at 2 o'clock, with interment in Maple Grove Cemetery.  A complete obituary will be published next week.

Source: Frances Gretchen (Klein) Leenerts generously provided this transcription of an obituary for Mr. Thomas Curry which she reported had appeared on Friday, 20 November 1925, in the Missouri Sentinel, of Oregon, Missouri. It is very possible that the newspaper was actually the Holt County Sentinel.

The funeral service for Tom Curry was held at the Methodist Church in Oregon on Friday afternoon, 20 November.  The wonderful hold he had upon the affections of this community was evidenced by the numbers that came out to pay a last tribute to their friend and neighbor, and by the wealth of flowers piled up and about his casket.  Every minister in the community participated in the services.  Each in turn spoke of the warm sympathy and support he had received from him who had so long been connected with The Holt County Sentinel.  Each one spoke of his great heart, his broad sympathies, his democratic fellowship and his ideal home life.  The ministers participating in the service were:  Rev. Kenneth R. Anderson of the Presbyterian Church; Rev. E. E. Sparks of the Methodist Church; Rev. G. W. Hawley of the Evangelical church; Rev. L. J. Hessel of the German Methodist Church and Rev. T. D. Roberts, a retired Presbyterian minister.  Rev. James H. Thompson, pastor of the Methodist Church at Burlington Junction, and formerly pastor of the church in Oregon, delivered the funeral address.  It was not a sermon.  Out of the fullness of his heart Rev. Mr. Thompson spoke of his long association with Mr. Curry, of the deep and abiding friendship that had grown up between them, of Mr. Curry's contributions to the upbuilding of the community, and of his unselfish life.  Rev. Thompson took for his text the story of David and Jonathan, quoting the passage where Jonathan takes leave of the departing David:  "And Jonathan said unto David, Tomorrow is the new moon; and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty.  We shall meet often times, but the seat of this beloved brother will be empty," spoke the speaker, "but the influence of his kindly life, his example as a home builder and a home maker, his work as a member of this community, will live on to inspire others.  The cold earth will soon hide his mortal remains from our view, but nothing can obscure our vision of him as memory recalls his every day life and work."  It was indeed a message of comfort to the bereaved and a deserved tribute to the good man gone before.  Miss Agnes Neudorff of St. Joseph, accompanied by Mrs. Fred P. Cook of Mound City, at the piano sang "Lead, Kindly Light," "One Sweetly Solemn Thought" and "Beautiful Isle of Somewhere," her rich soprano voice, tender and subdued, thrilling the hearts of the mourning listeners.  The active pallbearers were: Robert A. Jackson, W. H. Alkire, Charles W. Glenn, Leonard Botkin, D. B. Kinkel and Will L. Moore.  The honorary pallbearers were:  Dr. C. L. Evans, Henry C. Cook, Richard T. Dobyns, Morton Dobyns, L. R. Bagby of Craig, George A. Conway of Bigelow, T. C. Byrne of Omaha, Jesse C. Fitts of Kansas City, Will M. Maupin of Omaha, E. L. McDonald of St. Joseph, Ed R. Dobyns of Marceline and Fred Neudorff of St. Joseph.  Of the honorary pallbearers six had learned the printer's trade under Mr. Curry's tutorship.  At the cemetery the burial service was read, a brief prayer offered and the casket, garlanded with flowers, was lowered into the tomb.  Thus were the last sad rites concluded, thus the tribute of tears paid to a neighbor and friend.  Tom Curry was born in Plymouth County, Iowa 27 October 1856.  While yet an infant, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. James B. Curry, moved to Oregon and here the baby grew to manhood, attended the public schools, learned the printer's trade, and for more than two score years was actively connected with the publication of The Holt County Sentinel.  In 1883 he became associated with the late David P. Dobyns in the publication of this newspaper and that association continued until the death of Mr. Dobyns a little more than a year ago.  For ten years, from 1897 to 1907, Tom Curry was postmaster at Oregon.  Mr. Curry married Miss Wilhelmina Fiegenbaum at St. Joseph 18 February 1885.  Two children were born to them, Anna, now Mrs. J. J. Rayhill and Will R. now employed on the Indianapolis, Indiana Star.  These two, with the bereaved wife, survive him.  Two brothers, Montz of Kansas City and Autumn of Oregon, also survive.  Father and mother and two sisters, May and Emma, preceded him into the Great Beyond.  Four granddaughters, daughters of Mrs. Rayhill, also mourn the death of a grandfather who idolized them.

Source: Frances Gretchen (Klein) Leenerts generously provided this transcription of an obituary for Mr. Thomas Curry which she reported had appeared on Friday, 27 November 1925, in the Missouri Sentinel, of Oregon, Missouri. It is very possible that the newspaper was actually the Holt County Sentinel.


These documents name many people associated with the family history and the current state of my research allows me to identify some of them more completely on this page. Additional information may be found in the genealogical database on this web site.

James Barnes Curry

According to research from Marcia Philbrick at Our Family: Heartland Genealogy, James Barnes Curry, Tom's father, was the son of Thomas M. Currey (about 1768-1848) and Jane Barnes ( ? -1853) and was born on 10 March 1824 at Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Indiana. He died on 19 February 1886 at Oregon, Holt County, Missouri and was buried in the Oregon City Cemetery.

Mary (Philbrick) Curry

According to her death certificate, Mary Ellen Curry, Tom's mother, was born on 24 September 1830 in Licking County, Ohio, the daughter of Paul Philbrick (born in Maine) and Charlotte Goldsberry (born in Vermont).

Miss Wilhelmina Fiegenbaum

Thomas Curry's wife, Christina Wilhelmine Fiegenbaum, was born on 30 August 1859 in Galena, Jo Daviess County, Illinois, the sixth child of Rev. Heinrich Hermann and Clara Catherine (Kastenbudt) Fiegenbaum. As these documents show, she was commonly known by her second given name, or the nickname "Mina," which she used on her marriage license.

Rev. Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum was a pastor in the German Methodist Episcopal Church and consistent with the practice of the church he was posted to a new charge every few years. He and his family moved frequently throughout the middle western states during his career (see the chronology of his family's life). From 1870 to 1872, he served the church as the presiding elder of the St. Joseph (Missouri) District and from then on appears to have been a regular resident of that city. His wife, Clara Catherine (Kastenbudt) Fiegenbaum died at their home there in September 1897; he passed away in January 1905. Both were buried in Ashland Cemetery at St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri.

Will R. Curry

William, son of Thomas and Wilhelmina (Fiegenbaum) Curry, was born on 30 November 1885 at Oregon, Holt County, Missouri. He died on 4 May 1938 at Kansas City, Johnson County, Missouri. He was married to Ethel Welty. I currently know nothing about Ethel and her marriage to Will.

Jonathan Johnson Rayhill

Jay, as he was also known, was born on 22 March 1889 in Pana Township, Christian County, Illinois, the son of Charles Bonner Rayhill and Mary Edna Lukens. He died on 11 June 1952 at Los Angeles, California.

In an article about the Jay's marriage to Anna Helen Curry, published on 6 February 1914 in the Holt County Sentinel (Oregon, Missouri), the Rayhill family is identified as residents of Oregon, Missouri. Following his graduation from the local high school, Jay had lived mostly in the west, especially Seattle, Washington, "where he was in a responsible position with the Wells-Fargo Express company."

The newly-wed couple spent their honeymoon in Kansas City before moving to a farm in Milo, Vernon County, Missouri. In the 1920s and 1930s they were farming in Nodaway Township, Holt County, Missouri.

Anna Helen Curry

Anna, daughter of Thomas and Wilhelmina (Fiegenbaum) Curry, was born on 28 February 1889 in Missouri. She died on 11 March 1947 at Los Angeles, California.

Anna was married on 31 January 1914 at Oregon, Missouri, to Jonathan Johnson Rayhill. According to the marriage license, the ceremony was performed by Rev. T. E. Arnhold, a member of the Missouri Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Rev. Thomas Edward Arnhold was married to Clara Gertrude Steinmetz, Anna Curry's first cousin (Clara Steinmetz was the daughter of Johann Carl Conrad Steinmetz and Caroline Katherine "Carrie" Fiegenbaum, a sister to Anna's mother, Christina Wilhelmine (Fiegenbaum) Curry).

Jonathan Johnson and Anna Helen (Curry) Rayhill were the parents of five daughters: Edna, Alice, Lois, JoAn and Helen.

Miss Agnes Neudorff

Agnes Olive Neudorff sang at Thomas Curry's funeral service. She was the daughter of Frederick Franklin Neudorff (1859-1940) and his second wife, Mary Bauer (1866-1948). Mr. Neudorff was a hardware merchant in St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri. His first marriage, in 1881, had been to Lizette Clara Fiegenbaum (1862-1892), sister of Christina Wilhelmine Fiegenbaum, who was Tom Curry's wife.

Brief Genealogy

Thomas Curry's family

Christina Wilhelmina Fiegenbaum's family

Curry - Fiegenbaum family

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