Saturday, April 26, 2014

52 Ancestors #16: Sam B. Houston

General Sam Houston on the left, Uncle Sam Houston on the right
 This week's post is kind of a tale of two Sams: General Sam Houston of Texas fame & my Uncle Sam Houston who lived in Cameron, Milam Co., Texas. My paternal great uncle Hubert Houston who was a nephew of my great grand uncle Sam always used to claim that our Houstons were related to General Sam Houston. My problem was that Uncle Hubert only shared his basic Houston research with my branch of the family & never shared his supporting documentation of any link between us & the General. I have never found any concrete evidence of a link between our two Houston families, although I do have a suspicion they are related. I just don't know how.

My working theory for this (even though I haven't found irrefutable documented proof) is based on more than just family resemblance. Our family has always taken particular notice that General Sam & Uncle Sam look very much alike, but there is also the fact that Sam had two brothers named Luther Henderson Houston (my paternal great grandfather) & Charles Culberson Houston. I don't remember where I heard it, but somewhere over the years, I either heard or deduced I heard that Luther got his middle name Henderson from his father John Young Houston's sister Elizabeth who married Hollie Middleton Henderson. I had nothing to base on where Charley may have gotten his middle name Culberson from until I happened to be doing some research on General Sam many years ago.

General Sam Houston descends from John & Margaret Cunningham Houston of Ireland through one of their sons, Robert, who married Margaret or Mary Dunlap Davidson. John & Margaret Cunningham Houston had another son, John, who married Mary Ross (supposedly, some of the data is a little sketchy this far back).  John & Mary Ross Houston had a son named James, who is by tradition or supposition, married to Mary Hughey. James & Mary had a son named John Y. whom many are unclear on exactly who he married for certain (& no, no one ever comments on what the middle initial Y stands for, although Mary & James did have a younger son in their family named Young Gresham Houston). Most agree that he married someone named Elizabeth or Betsey (same difference, right?), but there is a disagreement on what her last name was. I have documented proof that my paternal third great grandfather John Young Houston (who I call Sr to distinguish him from the other John Young Houstons who came after & were named for him) was married to Elizabeth  "Betsey" Rodgers on 25 Nov 1809 in Morgan Co., GA where James & Mary Hughey (& John Young Houston Sr.) lived. (See My ancestor has been said to have been the son of John & Mary Young Houston. John Y. Houston, son of James & Mary Hughey Houston, is supposed to have married Elizabeth Maddox a year earlier on 25 Nov 1808 in Clarke Co., GA (however, I don't have documentation of this). Clarke is two counties northeast of Morgan County, GA & was probably where the bride lived, the premise being here that couples sometimes got married in the bride's county of residence.

James & Mary Hughey Houston also had a daughter named Mary who married Isaac Culberson. (This would make General Sam her uncle. I heard once from a cousin, Debra Nell Houston, that she had heard this claim of Uncle Hubert's also & although she did not now recall the exact relationship, she thought that General Sam was also supposed to have been an uncle many times removed of ours). If there is a connection between our family & General Sam's, is this where Charley, like Luther, got his middle name from?

Our Houstons  & General Sam's ancestry started out in SC from Ireland; they then migrated to GA & AL before settling for good in Texas. General Sam was reportedly very well known for siring children out of wedlock with many women, but although, our mutual relatives followed the same migratory patterns, I do not believe our female relatives were anywhere nearby in the same time period to have fallen victim to his "charms of persuasion", so where is the connection that would explain why our families seem to resemble each other? As far as I know, there is no documented proof of one that I have ever run across where I could say without a doubt in my mind that there actually was one.

Back to Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam was born the eighth of nine children to John Young (Jr) & Roxie Lindsey Houston on 29 Sept 1895 in Maysfield, Milam Co., TX. He farmed & lived his entire life in Milam County, Texas. He married Mary Price, daughter of a neighbor Moses Wright Price & Nannie Elizabeth Richards, on 26 Aug 1915 in Milam County, Texas. Mary taught school for a number of years in the community where they lived. They were blessed with no children of their own, but when the children of James William & Anna Pearl Turnbow Reynolds were orphaned after their parents' deaths, Sam & his older brother Will Houston, split the children into two groups with each brother taking charge, adopting, & raising the orphaned Reynolds children as their own.

The children Sam & Mary took in were Mary Faye & Edna Mae Reynolds. They also adopted & raised as their son, a boy named Douglas. I am not very clear on whether he was one of the Reynolds children or not. The information I have says he was, but I have a note that he may also have been a Woodson; in which case, I do not know who his biological parents were before Sam & Mary adopted him. Douglas died in a tragic plane crash during college while on his way home for a visit  in 1946. Mary Faye & Edna found good husbands, married & stayed close to home.

Uncle Sam died of a coronary occlusion at the age of 70 in Cameron, Milam Co., TX on 6 Apr 1966. He was laid to rest at Oak Hill Cemetery in Cameron. His wife Mary survived him by 12 years & was also laid to rest there in 1978. Below is a photo of Sam & Mary that was shared with me by my cousin Donna Fuller Delamar. I do not know the time or place, but it is obvious that they were attending someone's funeral (perhaps Douglas'?). Whatever the connection, I hope to one day be able to break down this brick wall.

Sam & Mary Price Houston

"Texas, Marriages, 1837-1973," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Apr 2014), Sam Houston and Mary Price, 26 Aug 1915; citing Milam, Texas, , reference ; FHL microfilm 981393.
"Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Apr 2014), Sam B Houston, 06 Apr 1966; citing certificate number 25955, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2117976.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

52 Ancestors #15: Viola Houston Otts Colbert

William Andrew Otts & Viola Houston
Otts, date & place taken unknown
This week's post is about a great aunt I never had the opportunity to know, but whose life I am able to relate to. Viola Houston was born into a large family on 24 Jan 1891 in Maysfield, Milam County, Texas. She was the seventh of nine children & third daughter of John Young Houston & Roxie Jane Lindsey Houston. She survived the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918 that claimed four of her family members. She was married to the love of her life at a time in her life when others would have considered her an old maid (age 35). She married William Andrew Otts, son of James & Susannah Russell Otts of Marak, Texas, on 22 Oct 1926 in Cameron, Milam County, Texas. She may have expected to live out her life here, but such was not to be.

Just four short years after their marriage, Andrew was taken from "Ola" when he developed nephritis (an infection that shuts down a person's kidney so that they can no longer adequately filter proteins which allows for the build up of toxins) & died on 19 Oct 1930 in Marak, Milam Co., Texas. He was laid to rest with other Otts family members at Marak Cemetery. They had no children together, although it is unknown whether the fact that they had no children was due to age or what I like to refer to as the "Houston curse" in which many of the female relatives of the Houston family line seem to be barren for whatever reason.

From photos that have been passed down to me by a cousin, Donna Fuller Delamar, it was easy to see that Andrew & Ola were much in love & I'm sure his death must have been a burden that was hard to bear for her. Five years later, she married Ernest Sproull Colbert, son of Henry C. & Lola/Lula Brown Colbert. Ernest was an oil field developer & he had been married before to Lily Mae Walton. They (Ernest & Lily) were married in about 1918 in Walters, Cotton Co., OK & had five children together, four boys & one girl, before Lily's death in 1934. Ernest moved his family to Texas where he met & married Ola & she became step-mother to his children.  The 1940 census shows their family living in Wichita Co., Texas which is quite a long ways from Milam County. Ernest's oldest son Floyd worked in the oil fields also. They eventually moved to Marlin in neighboring Falls Co., Texas & Ernest retired in 1952.

Viola "Ola" Houston Otts Colbert
Ola & Ernest had no children together. She was widowed a second time when Ernest died seven years later in 1959. She died a year later of a pulmonary embolism on the anniversary of his death (11 Mar 1960) in Marlin, Falls Co., Texas. She was laid to rest beside Ernest at Hillcrest Cemetery. Ola seemed to me to have been a nurturing mother type so I can relate that her life may not have gone quite as she had planned. A photo of her that was shared with me by Donna Fuller Delamar seems to reinforce this. I don't know when or where it was taken, but she seems a little sad. Most of the Houston relatives I have known or seen pictures of all look very alike & in her appearance here in this photo, I can definitely see the family resemblance. She's looking down & I wonder if this might not have been taken at a cemetery. Compared to the earlier photo, she seems to have lost weight. Whatever life dealt her, she was able to find happiness & a family of her own in the end.

"Texas, Marriages, 1837-1973," index,  FamilySearch  ( : accessed 18 Apr 2014), William Andrew Otts and Viola Houston, 22 Oct 1926; citing Milam Co., Texas, , reference Vol.18 P543; FHL microfilm 1481550.
"Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch  ( : accessed 18 Apr 2014), William Andrew Otts, 19 Oct 1930; citing certificate number 49905, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2135427.
"United States Census, 1940," index and images,  FamilySearch   ( : accessed 18 Apr 2014), Ernest Colbert, Wichita Falls, Justice Precinct 1, Wichita, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 243-28, sheet 9A, family 212, NARA digital publication of T627, roll 4163.
"Texas, Deaths and Burials, 1903-1973," index,  FamilySearch  ( : accessed 18 Apr 2014), Ernest Sprull Colbert, 11 Mar 1959; citing , reference 9544; FHL microfilm 1846233.
"Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images,  FamilySearch   ( : accessed 18 Apr 2014), Viola Houston Colbert, 11 Mar 1960; citing certificate number 16240, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2116166.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

52 Ancestors #14: Elizabeth Walker Holland

Elizabeth Walker Holland, date unknown,
my 5th great grandmother
This week's post is not intended to inspire political discourse on the ethics, etc., of the slave trade of the 19th century. It is inspired by a 2013 movie many of you are probably familiar with or have heard of called "Twelve Years a Slave".

I'm a southern born & bred & a proud sixth generation Texan. While most of my ancestors were not slave owners, a couple of my ancestors, mainly the Turnipseeds & Hollands of AL & GA, did hold slaves. (Turnipseed family history claims that the Turnipseed family were such good masters to their slaves that they took our surname for their own after their emancipation & the Civil War ended. A maternal aunt of mine claims they were "servants", but I have never bought into that line of reasoning. I won't sugarcoat what they were, i.e., slaves, & I won't accept as gospel at simple face value that we were such good masters to the people we held in bondage per se). Of all the periods of history I have ever studied, the 1800's & the Civil War period has been the most interesting to me. All that said, I have never been a proponent of slavery or racism or felt that either were right or justified.

My husband Chris & I don't make mad dashes to the theater every time there is a new release & it is often months or years before we see something that was mentioned in the headlines usually. This week, we watched "Twelve Years a Slave" which chronicles the story of Solomon Northup of Hebron, NY. There is a Holland family story concerning the death/murder of my fifth great grandmother, Elizabeth Walker Holland that I have always found a little amusing because I read into it what she must have been like as a person.

Elizabeth Walker was born on Christmas Day 1790 in Putnam Co., GA to Thomas Walker & Mary Burns. She was one of five children. On 16 Jan 1812, at the age of 21, she married John Rickman Holland, son of Thomas & Pheobe Rickman Holland in Putnam Co., GA. Together, she & John had nine children: five girls (Mary, Nancy, Martha, Sarah & Simruda) & four sons (Thomas, William, John & Samuel). They started family life in Putnam Co., GA & later moved to Troup Co., GA where their last two children were born. 

Marriage record of John Rickman Holland & Elizabeth Walker, Putnam Co., GA
In September 1840, John headed for Texas, which at that time was a free & independent republic, eventually settling in Erath Co., TX. Eight of his nine children would wind up joining him (Texas is a great state to live in!) before all was said & done. In December 1854, John petitioned the Coryell County, Texas courts for a decree of divorce from Elizabeth who had remained in Georgia with her only remaining daughter Martha & her husband Moses Holland who was a first cousin through John's brother James. A twelve man jury of his peers evaluated his case under the direction of District Judge R.E.B. Baylor & decreed that "John R. Holland be forever absolved both in person and property from all matrimonial obligations toward the defendant, Elizabeth Walker Holland." He continued to send money for her support & immediately divided his Texas lands among their children, including a 500-acre tract in Erath County deeded to Moses and Martha Elizabeth Holland who remained in Chatooga County, GA, with her mother, Elizabeth. Divorce, as everyone knows, was rare back in those days so you had to wonder what the lady was like to drive her husband all the way to Texas to get away from her (or did she just not want to go to Texas with him? No one knows for sure, but it's likely she wasn't easy to get along with).

Here is where the story of Elizabeth takes a turn of for the worse. Elizabeth lived on a plantation in Chatooga Co., GA with her daughter & son-in-law/nephew. She had a maid (who was for all intents & purposes a slave) to wait on her named Julian or Julia Ann whom she had promised her freedom upon her (Elizabeth's) death. On 4 July 1861, when the maid & Elizabeth were alone, the maid struck Elizabeth on the head with a rolling pin, killing her, & dumped her body down a well. The neighbors came out to look for Elizabeth & upon discovering her body, the maid admitted to doing the deed, saying that "she was tired of waiting upon ole miss & never being able to please her". The girl was lynched on 12 July 1861. Elizabeth was buried at Ebenezer Cemetery in Chattooga Co., GA.

Gravesite of Elizabeth Walker Holland
at Ebenezer Cemetery, Chattooga Co., GA
I guess I always thought upon hearing this tale that it spoke to the kind of person she may have been to have a husband move to Texas & divorce her only to have a slave girl kill you by whacking you in the head with a rolling pin. The movie "Twelve Years a Slave" changed my perception of this tale. I'm not saying murder is right or justified, but her treatment of the maid probably, quite understandably, brought about her death. The movie is probably the most graphic of any I have ever seen depicting slavery in the South. It shows Solomon, who was a free man of color being forceably kidnapped & sold into slavery against his will. He was first sold to a minister who treated him well enough, but refused to free him when he showed his intelligence (i.e., he was educated & definitely not a slave originally) & had gotten crossways with a bullying overseer because he had debts to pay. He was then sold to a slave owner & his wife who were absolutely terrible people whose treatment of their slaves was beyond despicable. The man was a cruel sadist who quite clearly made known that he bought into the idea of the white race being superior to the exclusion of all others. The wife wasn't quite as fanatic as her husband, but made her disdain felt & often lashed out at one of their slave women in particular because the girl was her husband's favorite (I won't call her his mistress because she didn't seem to try to encourage his attentions. Her only concern was to survive her lot in life the best way she could). It was apparent that the man & woman who owned the plantation didn't have a happy marriage. The wife begged him to sell the girl or she would leave & the husband told her that he would rather she (his wife) leave than get rid of his favorite. 

It wasn't just this female character named Patsy who came in line for abuse either. Solomon, who had been renamed Platte when he was sold into slavery, was beaten & ridiculed & his master went after him with a knife at one point, trying to kill him, even when he had tried to do as he had been instructed to do. The tale of Solomon at least had a happy ending. Towards the end of the movie, a man who was from up north was hired to do some carpentry work on the plantation & he & Solomon struck up a conversation & a friendship of sorts. Solomon told the man his tale & begged him to get word to his friends & family up north. In time, several men came to the plantation to establish his identity. They threatened the plantation owner with lawsuits & took Solomon back up north where he was reunited with his family. After his experiences, Solomon later became active in the abolitionist movement & the Underground Railroad. The movie was good, thought provoking & well deserving of its 2013 awards. 

"Georgia, County Marriages, 1785-1950," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 10 Apr 2014), John Holland and Elizabeth Walker, 16 Jan 1812; citing Putnam, Georgia, United States; FHL microfilm 394053.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

52 Ancestors #13: Roxie Jane Lindsey Houston

Roxie Jane Lindsey Houston,
date unknown
Continuing on from last week's post, this week I am blogging about an incident in my great great grandmother Roxie's life. Roxie Jane Lindsey was  born on 27 Aug 1854 (incidentally, a day before my own birthday in August) in Rockford, Coosa Co., AL to James Monroe Lindsey & Mary Sarah Ann Little. She was the second of nine children & their first daughter. When her father went off to fight in the War between the States, it was her job as a youngster to ring a bell & warn others in the area that "the Yankees are coming".

Her father returned from the war & life continued on. She met & married a neighbor boy named John Young Houston (Jr.) on 15 Mar 1877 in AL. They had nine children themselves: Will, Della, James, Walton, Minnie, Luther (aka "Duke"), Viola (aka "Ola"), Sam & Charles (or "Charley"). John & Roxie moved their family from AL to Milam County, Texas in the early 1880's. They spent the remainder of their lives there. Her first comment on seeing the blackland prairies of Texas was to exclaim over a grove of nearby trees "Oh look at that orchard!"

Roxie was a very sensitive & emotionally high strung personality, but she was just like every other woman of her time. She cooked, she cleaned, she fed & raised her children & did laundry, but an incident in the fall of 1918 most likely tested her resolve. The fall of 1918 brought the Great Influenza Epidemic & many people lost loved ones during that time. Roxie lost four of hers in a matter of a couple of weeks. The first to succumb was her husband John. He had underlying health issues & had been complaining that he was not feeling well. It was believed that he was coming down with the flu. He went out to cut some fire wood near the house, but did not return as soon as Roxie expected him to. She went out to look for him & found him lying dead on the ground. She screamed & her son Will, who lived nearby with his family, heard her & came running. She fainted & her grandson Elmer dipped his hat into a puddle to revive her. Roxie was so distraught that she was unable to attend his funeral & burial at North Elm Cemetery.

It was raining as the family came home from John's funeral. The only children still living at home were Charley & Ola. Charley was sick with flu like symptoms, so Ola sent him on into the house & out of the rain to go to bed. Roxie recorded the last hours of Charley's life. The neighbors came in & a mockingbird sang outside in a mournful call that stayed with her for the rest of her life. Charley died on 9 Nov 1918 & was laid to rest in the Houston family plot at North Elm Cemetery.

Della Houston Crook was the next of Roxie's family to die. Her daughter Della lived in Little River & was married to Halcomb Bascom Crook. They also had nine children & the entire family came down with the flu when the epidemic hit. Della died on 11 Nov 1918 of the flu & attendant pneumonia caused by it, devastating her husband & children who were all still very ill themselves. She was laid to rest at Little River Cemetery in Milam County, Texas. Her death & leaving behind several small children was very hard for Roxie to bear.

Her grandson Elmer was the last to succumb. Elmer was the son of Will & Ida McKinney Houston. Will & Ida had four children of their own (Bertha, Ola, Beatrice & Elmer), plus they adopted two boys (Thomas Franklin & James Allen Reynolds) whose parents (James William Reynolds & Anna Pearl Turnbow) had died. (Jim & Anna had six children who were split up & taken in by Will & Ida McKinney Houston & Sam & Mary Price Houston when Jim & Anna died. Their children were Beatrice, Thomas, James, Mary Fay, Edna Mae & Douglas). He died on 15 Nov 1918 & was buried at North Elm.

Anyone can only imagine how all these events, one on top of another, affected Roxie. Roxie lived twelve more years in Milam County, Texas before being diagnosed with colon cancer. She died on 24 Sept 1930 in Buckholtz & was laid to rest beside John at North Elm. I close this week with a photo of Roxie & her grand-
children at a Houston family reunion. The date & place of the photo is unknown but, from the hairstyles & fashions & the fact that she died in 1930, would have to have been taken sometime during the 1920's. My great aunt Asalee Houston Ulicnik Thompson said she was twelve years old when her grandmother died. Since her maternal grandmother Caroline Valentine Bourland Green died in 1948 when she would have been close to 25 years old, I am assuming that she meant Roxie, her paternal grandmother; however, in comparing the dates, she would have been only seven years old at the time Roxie died. Asalee is the little girl seated in the front row looking off to her left in the photo & she looks to be about seven or so, so maybe this photo was taken just before Roxie's death. Although I cannot prove it, I believe the girl seated next to her with her hands in her lap is my paternal grandmother Beulah Mae Houston Kaufman. She was five years older than Asalee & would have been twelve when Roxie died. I can't ask her now since Asalee is no longer living, but perhaps she meant that my grandmother was twelve when their grandmother died. I don't know the identities of the rest of the people are in the photo, but assume they are the rest of Roxie's grandchildren. Roxie is shown holding the hand of one of her young grandsons. All in all, a great photo! I only wish I had identifying markers & knew who everyone was in the photo.

Houston Family Reunion, date & place unknown
Roxie with her grandchildren.

"Alabama, Marriages, 1816-1957," index, FamilySearch( : accessed 29 Mar 2014), John Y. Houston and R. G. Lindsey, 15 Mar 1877; citing reference ; FHL microfilm 1571845.
"Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch( : accessed 29 Mar 2014), J L Houston, 28 Oct 1918; citing certificate number 43862, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2073349.
"Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 06 Apr 2014), Della Crook, 11 Nov 1918; citing certificate number 51861, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2073413.
"Texas, Deaths and Burials, 1903-1973," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 06 Apr 2014), Chas H Houston, 10 Nov 1918; citing Buckholts, reference 2939; FHL microfilm 1481545.
"Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 06 Apr 2014), Elmer Powel Houstain, 15 Nov 1918; citing certificate number 51868, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2073413.