Formerly serving in the British Army under Colonel Louis Prescott, Curtis was a sniper in the war against the Ashanti. During a sortie across the Pra River, the 11th Regiment of Foot suffered heavy losses, which lead to Prescott resigning from the army and opening Prescott Munitions.
Sometime after Prescott's resignation, Curtis left the army as well, opening a store across from the munitions factory. He and Prescott liked to joke around every now and then, insulting one another from across the street.
One day in 1868, Prescott challenged Curtis to use his Whitworth rifle to hit the twelve on the factory clock from his shop window. Curtis accepted the challenge but hit the clock just a few inches too low. Around the same time, Prescott was killed with a similar weapon, leading to Curtis becoming a suspect in the investigation.
When interrogated by the Assassins Jacob and Evie Frye, Curtis admitted to buying and selling stolen weapons from his attic, but he claimed to have nothing to do with the murder. This claim was verified by the Assassins when they identified Samuel Frye as Prescott's murderer.