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Matriarch retains genealogical details
Partlow resident Madeline Curtis is the matriarch of her family

 Madeline Curtis shares pictures of her ancestors, most of whom lived in Partlow. She can recite their birth dates, wedding dates and other biographical facts.
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Date published: 11/30/2009

By CATHY DYSON

Ask Madeline Curtis about anybody in her family--from Civil War ancestors to her great-grandchildren who get off the bus at her house--and prepare to be amazed.

Curtis--who turns 93 Wednesday--knows almost every detail imaginable.

About those who came before her, she can recite who married whom, when and where, and what the bride wore--down to the color of trim on her gown and the flowers on her hat.

And where the couple had their wedding photo taken.

And the bride's middle, maiden and married names.

"She has people calling her all the time," said Vernon Acors, whose grandmother was the sister of Curtis' mother. "There's nobody who knows genealogy like she does."

Curtis, who pronounces her first name Mad-uh-leen, says her memory's not that keen anymore, that she can barely remember what she did last week.

Don't be fooled.

Her two great-grandchildren, Thomas Jay and Maycen Alexis Heflin, are 13 and 8. Without taking a breath, Curtis rattles off details of their lives, for instance that Thomas played football last season and is now into wrestling. She loves to see him eat because he seems to enjoy it so much.

She cooks regularly for him as well as for her son, who comes by for dinner, and for others on special occasions. Just last week she made a lemon meringue pie for her daughter and a cherry one for a friend; their birthdays were the same day.

Without skipping a beat, Curtis talks about her other great-grandchild, Maycen, who reads two grade levels above her age.

"I'd like to think she got that from me," brags her great-grandmother, who also likes to have her nose in a book.

Then Curtis continues: "Her birthday is the 24th of October, and I don't know who her teacher is this year, but she had Mrs. [Ann] Dickinson last year."

Any more questions?

LOVED FAMILY STORIES

Virginia Madeline Payne grew up in Partlow in southern Spotsylvania County, across the road from the rambler that has been her home for almost 50 years.

Lots of relatives lived nearby, but she was particularly close to her Payne grandparents, Samuel and Amanda Payne.

She was one of 26 grandchildren in the family, and her grandmother--her "Big Ma"--loved Sunday gatherings with the whole clan.


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