Richard Curtis was born in Virginia on this day in 1756. Sometime after the Lord saved him, he began to have a burden to live in Mississippi. With that in mind his church licensed him to preach and began to encourage him in prayer. At that point, the Curtis family along with several others began an arduous journey into the wilderness. As the group neared the conclusion of their trip, floating down the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers in three boats, they were attacked by Indians, and all but one in the trailing boat were killed. The rest succeeded in making it to the mouth of Coles Creek about twenty miles upriver from Natchez. There they landed and established a settlement, beginning to meet as a Baptist church.
At the time, Manuel de Lemos Gayoso was the Governor of the Natchez district. As a Roman Catholic, he restricted religious freedom in his territory, making the evangelism of Brother Curtis dangerous. But a man named Stephen De Alvo was born again, renouncing his Catholicism and uniting with the Baptists. This resulted in the governor’s edict that the Baptists “desist from their heretical psalm-singing, praying and preaching in public or they would be subjected to sundry pains and penalties.” In 1795, Gayoso sent his militia to arrest Curtis with plans to send him to work in the mines in Mexico for the rest of his life. Providentially, Brother Curtis was warned of their approach. He and Brother De Alvo, along with another man, left their families and escaped. After several weeks of travel, they finally reached the church at Great Pedee, South Carolina, where Bro. Curtis was finally ordained. Soon after that, Mississippi became a part of the United States, and the three brethren returned, apparently arriving early one Lord’s Day. When Sister Curtis came for worship that morning, she was so surprised to see her husband standing on the pulpit ready to preach, she instantly fainted. In the subsequent years, the Salem Baptist Church grew and prospered under the leadership of Christ and His undershepherd, Brother Richard Curtis.