Aurore Eaton's Looking Back: Gov. Currier's story filled with mysteryBY AURORE EATON
Special to The New Hampshire Union Leader
October 01. 2012 6:55PM
Moody Currier's governorship was the capstone of his long and successful career in public life. In his family life, however, he could not escape sadness, disappointment and secrets.
Moody Currier married Lucretia C. Dustin of Bow in 1836. She died in 1847 of a heart condition, when she was 38 years old, leaving Moody to care for their daughter, Lucretia, named after her mother. Tragically, the girl contracted tuberculosis and died in 1859, when she was only 19 years old.
Moody mourned her death in a touching poem that tells the dying words of a young woman who asks her friend to comfort her absent father, 'Tell him I'll wake again when morn/Sweet beams of light shall spread./And life's immortal day shall dawn/Upon the sleeping dead./Tell him, that still his dying child/A father's love retained;/Though frail and weak, yet calm and mild,/The goal of life she gained.'
Eight months after his first wife's death in 1836, Moody married Mary W. Kidder. Records indicate that her only child was a stillborn son born in 1850. Mary Currier died in 1869, but her death was not recorded in the New Hampshire records. She may have been living apart from Moody, possibly in another state. Had there been trouble in the marriage?
Moody married 40-year-old Hannah A. Slade, a local school teacher, that same year. Hannah was a native of Brookfield, Vt. She was educated at the prestigious Thetford Academy in Vermont and in Boston.
Her studies included literature, mathematics, music, Greek, Latin and French. Hannah readily took to her new role as mistress of Moody Currier's new mansion, located on the current site of the Currier Museum of Art.
The enduring mystery of Moody Currier's life was his relationship with Charles Moody Currier, who was born in 1851. John B. Clarke wrote in his 1875 history of Manchester that Moody had three children 'of whom one survives, Charles M., teller at the Amoskeag National Bank.' But, in his will written in 1890 Moody declared that upon his death he would bequeath, 'To Charles M. Currier of said Manchester one hundred dollars. Said Charles has been called my son but he is not my son, was never adopted by me, and is no relation to me whatever.'
This was peculiar wording to include in a will. From census and other records we find that Moody Currier raised Charles as his own child.
In the 1860 census Charles, then 9 years old, was living with Mary and Moody Currier in the family household at 196 Pine St. Moody's home at that time was filled with people, including his widowed mother, Rhoda (Putney) Stevens, elderly relative Sally Putney, plus two boarders and an Irish servant.
When Charles was 18, Moody gave him a job as a teller (or clerk) at his bank. By 1873 Charles owned his own house on Walnut Street. But, by 1880 something had come between Moody and Charles, as the younger man was no longer employed by the bank. By 1881 he no longer owned the home on Walnut Street. In the next few years he worked for different local businesses as a bookkeeper, and lived in rented rooms. Charles moved to Washington, DC in 1891, and we lose track of him until 1918, when he died in Scituate, Mass.
His death record lists his mother as Mary Kidder and his father as Moody Currier, and the place of birth as Boston, Mass. Why would Charles have been born in Boston if his parents were living in Manchester?
When Moody Currier died in 1898, his obituary stated, 'He was three times married, but no children survive.'
So, who was Charles M. Currier? Was he Moody Currier's son by his marriage to Mary Kidder, or was his father someone other than Moody?
In either case, Moody plainly decided to deny and disown Charles in 1890, and he was never mentioned again in published materials about Moody Currier after that time.
Next week: Hannah Currier and the creation of the Currier Gallery of Art.
Aurore Eaton is executive director of Manchester Historic Association; email her at email@example.com.