Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897
[p. 338] This respected resident of Perry township, Lawrence County, has an interesting life-history, replete with suggestions to the young man, who would rise above his fellows, and enjoy the comforts of an independent competency in his old age. Mr. Curry has the distinction of being both a railroad man, although now retired, and a landed proprietor. Beginning at the very bottom round with hardly a cent to his name, he has risen and made money, and saved it, at whatever employment he was engaged.
He is of pure Irish parentage and birth, as he was born in Ireland in 1832. Growing up as a lad he attended school, and worked for a farmer until 1848, when he left his native shores to seek his fortune in the Western Republic. Landing in Massachusetts, he remained in that State for a period, working for a dairy farmer and doing other kinds of labor for two years; then, seeing a chance to better his condition, he bought a team and began grading on the railroad, receiving $2.50 per day wages. It was not so very long until another opportunity to rise presented itself, and Mr. Curry signed a contract to lay ninety-six miles of track on the railroad; finding this business profitable, he employed himself for three years in railroad contract work. Minnesota was the next objective point, and in that State, Mr. Curry took up sixty acres of land, built a substantial house thereon, and bought in addition two sections of improved land, adjoining his own. This property remained in his hands for one year, when he realized from it in hard cash, making the sum of $1,000 by the transaction. He then returned to the East, and settled in Pittsburg, Pa., where he again entered railroad work as a section foreman on the Pennsylvania Company's tracks, the position yielding the income Of $30 per month. By the time eighteen months had passed, Mr. Curry had outgrown his station, his merit was given due recognition, and he was promoted to be foreman of track-laying for the same company, and his services were then valued at $75 per month. Having amassed wealth, whatever his occupation, Mr. Curry was able to acquire a choice strip of territory in Perry township, where he resides. With his customary executive ability, improvements have been made on the house, and gradually, for such things require time, the whole farm has assumed a prosperous air under his supervision, and reflects strongly the owner's habits of thrift and method.
Mrs. Curry is also of Irish parentage; she was Martha McKinney, her father's name being John. Of the eight children, born to our subject and his wife, three—Robert, David and Mary—are deceased. Those living are: John, who allied himself with Caroline Siegler and has a daughter, Bessie; William H., who wedded Lilly Hamilton, and is the father of one son, William; Rebecca, who became Mrs. William B. Smith, and bore her husband two children—William J. and Ruth; Anna, who married Charles Hamilton, and has a daughter, Mabel; and Harry, who resides at home with his parents, who are now getting well along in years. Mr Curry is a stanch Democrat, and the family attend the United Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Curry's father, W. C. Curry, was a native of Ireland, who earned his living by the sweat of his brow in tilling the soil; his death occurred at the age of sixty. He espoused Jane Douglass, daughter of James Douglass, and their entire family of six children reached mature years. They were: David; John; Sarah; Elizabeth; Nancy; and the William whose personal history we have endeavored to outline.
Mr. Curry is a typical product of the circumstances that make it possible in the United States for the advancement of enlightened workingmen, who will observe the cardinal principles of thrift, economy, and self-education. He has risen from being a day-laborer to a position of a man of independent wealth, and has been the architect of his fortune in the truest sense of the word. His wide knowledge of railroad affairs renders him an authority, and he can converse for hours in an instructive way on his favorite subject—the railroad.
Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897
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Updated: 26 May 2001