THE HOUSTONS

My Grandmother Maxwell's Family
"Don't let the children forget us."



Hawkins Gregory came out of his farmhouse early one morning in the late 1830s and found a young boy standing in the yard. Apparently the boy had spent the night on the place. He told them that his name was John Houstion and that he was an orphan. He appeared to be about 10 years old. Mr. Gregory and Margaret, his wife of six years, had no children of their own so they took John Houstion in. They did the paperwork to make themselves his legal guardians and later took in two more children. John was recorded in their Bible as “John Houston orphan child seposed to be Born 1835.”

The Gregorys had moved to the Point Remove Creek bottoms north of Lewisburg in Conway County Arkansas from Tennessee in 1830. Hawkins was 27 and Margaret 23 and they had only been married two years when they made their move. The land they settled had been Cherokee land, but the Cherokee had been removed past that point to allow room for white settlers, thus the name "Point Remove" Creek. The land showed such promise that they sent word back to Margaret’s family. In 1832, one of her brothers came with his family and brought two other brothers with him.

Over the years John Houstion told two stories about how he came to be in the Gregory’s yard that morning. He told his family that his family had come to America from Ireland and that Yellow Fever broke out on the ship. His parents were afraid that if they died, the children would be without help and would be separated when they reached land. They asked the captain to promise to get the children settled if necessary, however they and the captain died and the children did become separated. Some remembered a version in which the parents died soon after reaching shore. Then a man named Rigdon Howard enters the story. He took John and John's brother and sister as his own children and eventually took them to Arkansas where John ran away. John never saw his brother or sister again although he did attempt to locate them in later life.

John’s story for official purposes was that he was born in Tennessee on January 25, 1833. He said that his parents died when he was two years old and that Rigdon Howard brought him and his sister and brother to Arkansas in 1837. When old enough, he escaped and made his way to the Gregory’s farm. John's story is printed in Goodspeed’s 1891 Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Western Arkansas in the section on the history of Conway County. The history continues by saying that “On attaining his majority he began life for himself, with very slender means.”

The U.S. Census records support this story. In 1840 Hawkins Gregory is listed as the head of a household in Griffin Township, Conway County, Arkansas. In the household are a woman aged 30 to 40 and a boy aged five to ten years old. The 1850 Census for Griffin Township adds more information. Hawkins Gregory is listed as a farmer aged 47 with real estate valued at $5,900. His birthplace was Tennessee. Margaret Gregory was 44 and she, too, was born in Tennessee. John Gregory was 16 and he is listed as having been born in Tennessee also. Then there was another Margaret, aged five, born in Arkansas. Although the name "Gregory" is not written beside each name a quote mark (") is there to indicate the same name as head of household. These data support the 1933 birthdate for John Houstion, and the possibility that John was living with them in 1840 when he was six.

John Hawkins Houstion
John Houstion
Company F36 Arkansas Infantry
Confederate Army

In 1856 John married Mary Ann Arnn. Mary Ann’s parents were Abihu Arnn and Margaret R. Blaid Arnn. Mary Ann was born November 11, 1831, so she was about 24 at the time of her marriage. The Arnn name came from the name Aaron apparently as the result of phonetic spelling. Birth and marriage information comes from the Arnn Family Bible. Abihu was born September 23, 1807 and Margaret on April 24, 1811. Abihu and Margaret were married October 6, 1829.

The 1860 Census shows that John and Mary Ann lived in Old Hickory and had two sons, Marcellus who was two and John H. Houston who was eleven months. The 'H' probably stood for 'Hawkins' although this John was known as 'Hawk' as he is identified on his tombstone. This John was my Grandmother Maxwell's father.

In 1860 Hawkins Gregory was 56 years old and he and Margarett still lived in the Old Hickory area. They had a young girl, Frances Beason, age nine, living with them and a young 'physician' named W. L. Deberry, aged 23. Hawkins had real estate valued at $2000 and personal property of $5600, a very well-off man for that day. On the other hand, John Houston's real property was listed at $200 and his personal property at $300.

John and Mary Ann had nine children; M. D., John H., Sarah F., George L., Margaret J., Henry M., Mary A., Charles and Luther. Mary Ann died January 30, 1884, at the age of 53. John then married again and had five more children according to Goodspeed; twins Effie and Jeffie, who died in infancy; Edward; John A.; and Bolivar. Sarah, George, Henry and Mary had died by 1891. A later story says that the second wife was Joanna Elizabeth Guest, the daughter of John Walker Guest and his first wife, Annis Ball.

John had a good farm in 1891, when the history was written, with 79 acres under cultivation. He was a Mason and held various Lodge offices. He was Justice of Gregory Township for four years. He was an elder in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

In a more recent publication of Conway County histories this additional information is provided by Lettsie Ennis Askew. This story says that Rigdon Howard took John’s brother and sister to Crawford County. John served in Company F 36, Arkansas Infantry of the Confederate Army from 1862 to 1865. This portrait is of John in his Confederate uniform.

This history seems to imply that John took the name “Hawkins” as a middle name from the first name of his benefactor. His son J. H. was John Hawk Houston, my mother’s maternal grandfather. This John Hawk Houston was born in June of 1859. He was called “Hawk” and his son, John Hawk Houston Jr., was called “John Hawk.” They both were often referred to as “J.H” and there was another J.H. Houston, also.

To recap then, John Houston was born around 1835 and was brought with a brother and sister to Arkansas around 1845 by Rigdon Howard. John ran off and came to the farm of Hawkins Gregory, who took him in. When he was old enough, he began life for himself with very slender means.

Abihu Arnn
ABIHU ARNN
1807 - 1893

Georgina Duncan's information indicates that the family name was Aaron, but was changed at some point as it was spelled phonetically the way it was pronounced. The family used Biblical names. In the Old Testament, Abihu was the brother of Nadab. Abihu was the father of Mary Ann Arnn who married John "Hawkins" Houston.
Great-great-greatgrandfather Arnn moved to Conway County from Henry County, Tennessee, in 1853 about the same time my Great-greatgrandfather Skipper moved from Tennessee. Perhaps they knew each other or even traveled together. Even if they knew each other, they had no clue that 85 or so years later two of their descendents would marry and produce me. And we, in turn, have no idea what our descendents will be doing 85 years from now.
John Anderson Condley
John Anderson Condley
Union Army Days
1853 - Abihu Arnn and his family moved to Conway County from Henry County, Tennessee. Abihu was 46 years old and his daughter Mary Ann was 22. Abihu's wife, Margaret R. Arnn was 42 years old. Henry County is on the Kentucky River northeast of Louisville. If the Arnn family was prosperous they probably traveled by boat down the Kentucky, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers and then up the Arkansas River to Louisburg at the mouth of Point Remove Creek. Otherwise they would have had a long difficult journey overland to Memphis crossing the Mississippi on a ferry boat then another 200 miles overland to Springfield, the Conway County seat at that time.

1856 - On March 6, 1856, John Houstion married Mary Ann Arnn as noted in the Arnn family Bible. Mary Ann was 24 years old and John was about 23.

1858 - Marcelius D. Houston, first child of John and Mary, was born January 11, 1858. By 1890 M.D., at the age of 32, was a prosperous man in the community.

1859 - John Hawk Houston, their second child, was born in June 1859. John Hawk Houston was my maternal grandmother's father.

1861 - Sarah F. Houston was born February 22, 1861. She died August 13, 1867, at the age of six.

Cornelia Josephine Conley, my mother’s mother’s mother, was born October 23, 1861, in the Hector Community. Her parents were John Anderson Conley, a Presbyterian preacher, and Emaline Draper. Josie, as she was called, grew up to marry John Hawk Houston.

1862 - George L. Houston was born in 1862 but died on August 13, 1867, at the age of five.
John Houstion and his two Arnn brothers-in-law joined the Confederate Infantry. John was about 30 years old and probably left for war in the fall. He left at home a pregnant wife who was 30 with two sons 4 and 3 years old and an 18 month old daughter.

One of John's granddaughters (my grandmother) told that when the men were back home and trying to avoid capture, the women would bury them under piles of leaves in ditches on the property. I was so young at the time of the telling that I wasn’t sure whether she was talking about her mother or grandmother. Since her mother was only a few years old during the Civil War, the stories must have come from her Grandmother Mary Ann, who was a young mother of four pre-schoolers and was in her early 30s during the war. John's second wife, Lizie, had been a teenager during the war and she might have had story to tell also.

1863 - Margaret Jane Houston was born June 17, 1863, during the war.

1865 - John "Hawkins" Houstion finished his tour of duty with Company F 36 of the Arkansas Infantry.

1866 - Henry M. Houston was born September 22, 1866, but died a year later. The war was over but times were difficult.

1867 - Sarah F. Houston, the first daughter of John and Mary Ann, died August 13, 1867, at the age of six.

1868 - Mary A. Houston, named for her mother, was born June 4, 1868, but died December 3rd of that year.

1870 - Charles Roach Houston was born November 11, 1870. At this point John Houstion was about 37 years old and Mary Ann was 39. My great grandfather John Hawk Houston was eleven years old, his older brother, M.D. was twelve, Margaret Jane was seven, and Charles was a baby.

The 1870 Census provides this information. John's surname is now spelled "Houstion." His age is 37 and his property is vaued at $163/$700. Mary is 39, Marcellus is mispelled, but he is 12, John Hawk is listed as "Hawkins" and he is 10, Jane is six and Charles is nine months.

1872 - Luther, the last of the children of John and Mary Ann, was born January 20, 1872, but died in 1875.

1876 - My Great, Great, Great Grandmother Margaret R. Arnn died November 7, 1876. She was 65 years old. She had seen all of her daughter Mary Ann's children born.

1880 - The family had not changed a lot since the 1870 Census. The township had been renamed 'Gregory' in honor of Hawkins Gregory. Marcellus Houstion had married Mary J. (Mollie) Greer the previous year. Marcellus was 22 and Mollie was 17. John Houstion was 46, Mary Ann (listed as Margrett) was 48, Hawk (listed as J.H.) was 20, Margaret (listed as Jane) was 16, and Charles (Charley) was 8. A. Arnn was living with them. He was 72 and listed as father-in-law.

During these years John Houstion was a Royal Arch Mason teaching at the Masonic School. He was an elder in the Cumberland Presbyterian church at Mt. Vernon and he served four years as Justice of the Peace of Gregory Township which had been named for his benefactor, Hawkins Gregory.

1881 - John Hawk Houston (or Hawk as he was known) married Cornelia Josephine “Josie” Conley November 6, 1881. Hawk was 22 years old and Josie was 20. Hawk had just started farming on a plot of wooded land in the Old Hickory community in western Conway County just east of the Point Remove Creek bottoms where his father had grown up. Hawk’s land is still in the Houston family in 2005.

1883 - John Hawk Houston, Jr. was born May 26, 1883, to Hawk and Josie. John Hawk, as he was known, was the oldest brother. He and his three little sisters survived to adulthood. He was 12 years older than his first sister and 16 years older than my grandmother, his youngest sister. They were very close and he is photographed with her at her wedding.

1884 - Mary Ann Houstion (my great, great grandmother) died January 30, 1884, at the age of 53. John Hawkins remarried May 1, 1884. His second wife was Joanna Elizabeth “Lizie,” who was 32 years old. John was about 51. Lizie was in her teens during the Civil War and may have been the source of the few stories that my grandmother remembered.

Hawk and Josie’s second child, Elbert B. Houston, was born in October 1884. There is an unusual break in the births of children between Elbert in 1884 and Eva in 1895.

1891 - Goodspeed’s history of Arkansas was published 1891. It included stories of both John Houstion and M.D. Houstion, but not of Hawk.

In 1891 Hawk Houston had been married for 10 years and he and his wife had two young sons. His mother Mary had died and his father, John Houstion, had been married to Lizie for six years. There were three young half-brothers, Edward, John A., and Bolivar. Hawk’s older brother, M.D. was a prosperous farmer in the area. Siblings Margaret Jane (28), Charles (21), and Luther were still living. (But a later account said Luther died in 1875.)

The last child of John Houstion and his second wife, Lizie, was Lettie Katherine born August 25, 1892. John was almost 60 and Lizie was 40. They had been married for eight years. I don't have a record for the date of John Houstion's death.

1893 - Abihu Arnn (my great, great, great grandfather) died on February 24, 1893, at the age of 85 years, 5 months, and a day. He outlived his wife by 17 years. However, he didn't live to see the birth of his three little Great Granddaughters by his daughter Mary Ann.

During the late 1890s Hawk and Josie had three daughters; Eva Josephine Houston on May 1, 1895; Maudie Grace Houston in 1897; and my grandmother, Eugenia Frances Houston, born May 21, 1899.

1900 - In the final year of the Nineteenth Century, Elbert B. Houston, second child of Hawk and Josie, was living in June when the 1900 Census was taken, but died before the end of the century at the age of 16. That left the immediate family at the end of the century with Hawk, age 41; Josie, 39; John Hawk, Jr., 17; Eva, 5; Grace, 3; and Jean, 1. Oddly enough, my Grandmother Eugenia Frances Houston was listed in the 1900 Census as a one-year-old white male son named Eugene. The family had dropped the 'i' from their name.

According to the 1900 Census, Hawk's father, John Houston, was still living in Gregory Township. He was listed as 65 years old indicating a birthyear of 1935 and the month of his birth was listed as March. He indicated for the census that his place of birth was Tennessee, but gave no place of birth for his parents. Hawk's mother had died 16 years earlier at the age of 53. Hawk's young step-mother, Joanna Elizabeth Guest Houston, was listed as age 43 with a birthdate of June 1856, so the her birthday was a little later in June. The article on John Houstion in a recent Conway County history said she was born in 1852. If the 1900 Census data is correct she was only two years older than her stepson Hawk. The three surviving children, Hawk's half-brothers and half-sister, were John E. Houston born in September 1888 and 11 years old (at the census time in June); Bolivar B. Houston born March 1890, 10 years old, and Lettie Houston born August 1892, 7 years old.

I don't have information on Josie's parents.

Siblings - Hawk's older brother, M.D., was living in Morrilton on June 9, 1900 when the census was taken. He was 42 and Mary Jane was 38. Their children were John L. (17), Leila (15), Hugh L. (13), and Charles Lester (10).

Margaret Jane was married to George Massingill and they lived in Gregory Township near the Houstons. George was 39 years old and Margaret was 36. They had been married for 17 years and had seven children: William, age 16; Julias, age 13, George, age 10, Bertha, age 7; Charlie, age 5, and Silar (uncertain spelling, a daughter), age 2. They all had birthdays after the census date so by the end of the century they were a year older than the ages listed here (except Silar).

Charles Houston and his wife, Sarah C., lived in Gregory Township. His birthdate is listed as November 1869 and Sarah's as September 1871. They had been married five years and had no children.

There were five named "John" in the family. Four generations were named "John" and it is difficult to keep them straight. The orphan John Houstion may or may not have used "Hawkins" as a middle name. Some say he did. His second son was named "John Hawkins" or "John Hawk" some say one, some the other, but it is agreed that he was known as "Hawk" Houston. Hawk's oldest son was named John Hawk Houston, Jr. and was known as "John Hawk" to distinguish him from his father. John Hawk named one of his sons J. H. Jr. (or John Hawk, Jr.?). He was known as "J. H." The other John was Marcellus' son, "John L." Marcellus was known as "M. D."

1845 - 1900 A lonely orphan boy arrives in Arkansas; a family is begun.
1901 - 1920 The John Hawk Houston children come of age.
1921 - 1939 "'Til death do us part."


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Posted 6/5/05