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.

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