Charles Curtis was born January 25, 1860, in Topeka, Kansas, to Oren Arms and Ellen (Pappan) Curtis. His mother had American Indian ancestry—Kansa, Osage, and Potawatomi. He worked as a clerk for Topeka attorney A. H. Case and later as partner. He was elected county prosecutor in 1884 and became widely known for his strict enforcement of the prohibition law. Curtis rose to national prominence with his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1892.