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Matriarch retains genealogical details page 2
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.
PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 11/30/2009

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"She used to tell us a lot of stories, and I used to ask so many questions," Curtis said.

Clearly, she remembered the answers.

As she reached into a shoe box that contained six or seven generations of family photos, she pulled out an image of a soldier who lived long ago.

"This is my mama's uncle, he fought in the Civil War," she said, holding his photo against her face. "He was at Appomattox for the surrender, and then he walked all the way from there to Caroline County."

When asked his name, she responded in typical fashion by giving his whole name: William Wirtley Durrett.

'KNOW WHO THAT IS?'

Curtis pulled out a photo of a kid she used to call Curly Top. That was Vernon Acors, who lives down the road from her.

She fumbled for another picture and held up one of two servicemen.

"Know who that is?" she asked Acors, handing him the image.

He squinted for a better look. "I believe that is my daddy."

"I know it is," Curtis said. "He was my first cousin. I kept him the day his mother was buried. He was 2, and I was 9."

Acors' father's mother died giving birth to her 12th child, and Curtis' mother, Mary Virginia, took all the children to raise as her own. It broke her mother's heart, Curtis recalled, to see her sister's children deal with such a loss.

One day, Acors' father asked Curtis what his mother looked like. Even though Curtis was a child when she died, she still remembered her beautiful locks.

"She had the prettiest hair," Curtis said. "That's where they get their curly hair from. Mama's hair was straight as a poker, and so is mine."

MATRIARCH OF THE FAMILY

Curtis is the oldest member of Waller's Baptist Church, and one of seven Payne grandchildren still alive.

Like her "Big Ma," she likes her family close. Of her two children, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, all live within three miles of her except one grandson in Richmond.

Still, it has been hard to watch so many loved ones go before her. Her husband, Robert, died in 1970, and she never remarried, although she did have a boyfriend.

"He died 10 years ago, on his son's 20th birthday," she said.


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