Herbert Merton Houston and Lucy Smith

Herbert Merton Houston (05.04.1840 – 06.03.1900) was born in Enfield, NH. His parents John Houston and Judith Cox had six children: Levi, Betsy Ann, Parker H., Pauline, and Emma. John Houston worked as a blacksmith.

Herbert Merton grew up in Manchester, NH (Ward 6, Hillsborough according to census data from 1850 and 1860). He moved to Lowell, MA to become a machinist, and worked for a time in Smithville, NJ. He married Lucy Crook Smith (12.08.1838 – 1933) of Vermont on June 16,1869 in Manchester, NH.

Lucy’s parents were Robert Smith (b. 1810) and Christianna Lee (b. 1811), both born in Vermont. Christianna remarried a short time after Lucy’s birth to Samuel Johnson and Lucy grew up in Portland, Whiteside, Illinois.

Lucy Crook Smith

Lucy’s half-brother, likely Leland Johnson

Christina Lee Smith Johnson, Lucy’s mother

Lucy Smith’s grandmother. The photo is from a studio in Chelsea, Vermont.

The couple moved to Aurora, IL, where Herbert Merton worked for a railroad company, and then to a farm in Tampico, IL (confirmed by the 1880 census). Lucy’s older brother, Richard Smith, lived in Tampico as well until his death in 1907.

Herbert Merton and Lucy had four children, all born in Illinois: Merton Smith (b. 03.14.1871), Edith (b. 06.16.1873), Walter Lee (b. 05.1878), Harry Herbert (b. 10.06.1880).

A later picture (circa 1900) of Herbert Merton and Lucy with their three sons (from left: Walter, Harry, Merton).

The family either in a play or having a silly tea. Herbert Merton and Lucy again appear to be at center. The oldest brother Merton is in back, Walter is pouring tea into a woman’s mouth, and Harry is kneeling in front. Perhaps their sister Edith is in this photo too.

In 1883, Herbert Merton moved the family to Montgomery, PA to work with his brothers, Levi and Parker, at the Houston Machine Company. At some point, the family lived at 33 Houston Avenue in Montgomery [1].

Levi Houston became a prominent businessman in Montgomery, after he moved there 1873. His machine shop became a unit of the American Wood Machine Company. In 1891, Levi also opened the Hotel Houston. Around Montgomery (24) contains a profile of Levi Houston.

Herbert Merton died due to complications during an operation to remove gallstones at a Williamsport, PA hospital. He is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Montgomery, PA. The cemetery looks over the town and is on Cemetery Hill Road.

After her husband’s death, Lucy moved in with her daughter Edith and son-in-law, William Trego (b. 1873) of Pennsylvania. They lived in Richmond, NY on Staten Island.

Herbert Merton and Lucy’s sons were also married:

  • Merton Smith (1871-1963) married Alice Mae Taylor (1879-1948) of Pennsylvania. They had at least 5 children. Merton and Alice are buried in the Forest Home Cemetery in Waverly, NY.
  • Walter Lee (b. 1878) married Celia Shady (b. 1890) of New Jersey. Their children were Lee and Barbara. They also lived in Richmond, NY, before retiring to Miami, FL.
  • Harry Herbert (1880-1959) married Emily Shoemaker (1875-1950) of Pennsylvania. Their children were Harry Herbert and G. N. Crosby and the family lived in Yonkers, NY. Harry and Emily retired to Muncy, PA, where they are buried.

Lucy Smith Houston

Lucy and her brother Richard Smith

Lucy with her son Harry (far right) and grandson (far left) at Niagara Falls. Date of photo is probably 1918-19.

[1] Walter Lee Houston’s Pennsylvania Veteran’s Compensation Application shows 33 Houston Avenue as his legal address at the time of his entry into service. During the Spanish War, he was in the service from May 1, 1898 – October 29, 1898 and honorably discharged because he contracted typhoid fever. Walter’s WWI draft registration card describes as being tall, of small build, with blue eyes and brown hair.

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John Houston and Judith Cox

The son of John Houston and Polly Webster, John Houston Jr. (03.04.1808 – 08.03.1863) was born in Enfield, New Hampshire along with his siblings. He worked as a blacksmith and married Judith Cox (1808 – 07.28.1889) on 11.18.1831 at the Cox family farm in Wilmont, NH.

The couple at first lived in Enfield, but later moved to 165 Central Street in Manchester, NH. They had six children:

Betsey Ann, 1833-1892. Never married. Died in New Hampshire.

Levi, 1835-1892. First wife named Celia. Second wife was Louisa Merrick of New Hampshire. Two daughters Celia (b. 1871) and Pauline (b. 1877). Died in New Hampshire.

Emma, 1837-after 1910. Married Dr. Oramel Martin. Likely died in Rochester, NY. Her album is the source of these Houston family photos.

Herbert Merton, 1840-1900. Married Lucy Crook Smith of Vermont. Had four children. Died in Montgomery, PA.

Pauline, 1843-1925. Married George N. Crosby. Likely died in Rochester, NY.

Parker, 1848-1900. Married Lillian Mitchell of New Hampshire. Died in Rochester, NY.

John and Judith died in Manchester, NH and, most likely, are buried together in Valley Cemetery in Manchester. Betsey Ann and Parker are also buried in Manchester.

Houston graves at Valley Cemetery in Manchester, NH

More on the Cox Family

Judith’s daughter, Emma Houston Martin, wrote a letter to her nephew Harry Herbert Houston and his wife Emily Shoemaker about the Houston and Cox families. Judith Cox’s parents were “Scotch-English.” Judith’s grandfather was a Tory merchant,who lived in New York City. At the start of the revolution, he boarded up his shop and took the family to Maine. However, Judith’s father, David Cox (1767-1852), went only as far as Massachusetts. In 1789, David married Judith Corning (1767-1829) of Beverly, MA. All of the Cox children were born in Beverly. Emma writes that David Cox “was a sea captain a good many years, but retired and the later years of his life owned and lived on a farm in Wilmont where they died.” Judith Cox and John Houston were married at the family farm.

Additional Pictures of the Houston Family

Levi Houston, first wife Celia, second wife Louisa Merrick, and daughters Celia and Pauline

Emma Houston and husband Dr. Oramel Martin

Pauline Houston

Parker Houston and his wife Lillian Mitchell

John Houston and Polly Webster

Currently, nothing is known about John Houston’s parentage. John Houston (11.04.1778 – 04.21.1835) married Polly Webster (04.04.1784 – 08.20.1842) on March 24, 1797. They had seventeen children and are buried near Enfield, NH in Lockehaven Cemetery off Shaker Hill Road near the site of Enfield’s first Shaker meeting house.

John Houston and Polly Webster

An old letter, written by Emma Houston Martin (granddaughter of John and Polly) to her nephew Harry Herbert Houston Sr. and his wife Emily, relates Polly Webster to Daniel Webster (1782-1852), a New England politician who led the Whig Party and served as Secretary of State. Emma also links John Houston to Sam Houston (1793-1863), who served as President, Senator, and Governor of Texas with the statement that they must have descended from the same “’stock.’”  All Houstons, she explains, derive from five brothers “of English and Irish descent; three remained north, two went south, the progenitors of all our line.” A passage from New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial reiterates some of the family lore relayed in Emma’s letter:

He [Charles Harrison Cross] married, March 15, 1835, Caroline Webster Houston, born at Enfield, New Hampshire, February 12, 1812, died May 22, 1893, daughter of John and Polly (Webster) Houston, granddaughter of John Houston, who had two brothers, James and General Samuel Houston, the latter named the first governor of Texas, hero of the Mexican  war. Polly Webster was daughter of Thomas and Polly (Goodhue) Webster, and niece of Ebenezer Webster, father of the great Daniel Webster. Thomas Webster settled in New Hampshire in 1736 and was soldier in the revolution in 1775; also in Captain Joseph Norris’ company, Fourth New Hampshire Regiment, mustered out February 13, 1777.[1]

Further investigation, however, makes it unlikely that the famous Samuel Houston was John Houston’s uncle. If John Houston was indeed born in 1778, then he would be 15 years older than Sam. Still, they may be distantly related.

More on the Webster Family

Genealogical and Personal Memoirs . . . details some of the earliest Websters who originate from John Webster, who emigrated from Ipswich, England, and Thomas Webster, who emigrated from Ormesby, England in the mid-17th century.[2]  The passage quoted in the section above incorrectly names Polly’s parents. Their names were Levi Webster (2.20.1742 – 4.13.1818) and Rachel Morse (her first husband’s name), maiden name Goodhue (7.6.1742 – 5.9.1787), both buried in the Enfield Cemetery.[3]  An entry in an issue of the Daughters of the Revolution Magazine confirms Polly’s birth date and parentage.[4]

Levi Webster Rachel Goodhue Morse

Levi Webster and Rachel Morse Goodhue descended from English families who settled in Massachusetts, mostly in the 1630s:

  • Thomas Webster (1631-1715) and his widowed mother, Margaret Margery (1609-1687) arrived from Ormesby, Norfolk England in 1634 and settled in Hampton, NH
  • Daniel Brewer (1596-1646) from London, England settled in Roxbury, MA
  • Nicholas Noyes (1615-1701) from Cholderton, Wiltshire, England settled in Newbury, MA
  • Captain John Cutting (1586-1659) from London, England settled in Roxbury, MA
  • William Goodhue (1612-1699) from Deptford, Kent, England settled in Ipswich, MA
  • Francis Dane (1615-1696) from Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, England settled in Andover, MA
  • Thomas Low (1631-1712) from Groton, Suffolk, England settled in Ipswich, MA
  • Thomas Boreman (1570-1627) and son Thomas (1601-1673) from Claydon, Oxfordshire, England settled in Ipswich, MA
  • William Story (1614-1702) from Norwich, Norfolk, England settled in Ipswich, MA

Polly’s father, Levi Webster, was born in Kingston, NH. His parents were Thomas Webster (1715-1781), son of John Webster and Abiah Shaw, and Judith Noyes[5]. Thomas and Judith married on October 12, 1738[6] in Newbury, Massachusetts,[7] about 20 miles from Kingston, NH.

Levi’s great-grandfather was Thomas Webster II (1631-1715). Thomas Webster II was baptized in Ormesby, Norfolk county, England and came to Hampton, NH with his widowed mother, Margery, in 1634. He married Sarah Brewer in 1657, had nine children, and died in Hampton, NH.  His father, Thomas Webster I, died in 1634 in Ormesby, England.

Levi’s mother, Judith Noyes (1715-1790), was a Newbury, MA native, and a daughter of James Noyes (1683-1745), a housewright born in Newbury as well who married Sarah Coffin in 1713.[8]  James was the son of Timothy Noyes (born 1655 in Newbury, married in 1680 to Mary Knight) and the grandson of Nicholas Noyes (born 1615, likely in Cholderton (near Salisbury), England) who came to the New World in 1633 on the “Mary and John”, settled in Newbury, and married Mary Cutting, daughter of Captain John Cutting in 1640.[9]


[1] William Richard Cutter, A. M., ed., New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial, Volume 4 (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1914), 1863.  Accessed February 16, 2011, http://books.google.com/books?id=itAUAAAAYAAJ&dq=early%20new%20england%20families&pg=PA1863#v=snippet&q=thomas%20webster&f=false.

[2] William Richard Cutter, A. M., ed., Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boson and Eastern Massachusetts, Volume 2 (New York:  Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1908), 810.  Accessed February 16, 2011, http://books.google.com/books?id=kFoLBC2TwFYC&dq=%22thomas%20webster%22%20early%20new%20england&pg=PA565#v=onepage&q&f=false.

[3] “Rachel Goodhue Webster.”  Find a Grave.  Accessed July 23, 2011, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=60719046.

[4]Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine 48 January-June 1916 (New York, NSDAR, 1916), 186.  Accessed July 23, 2011, http://books.google.com/books?id=oHsmAQAAIAAJ&dq=%22levi%20webster%22&pg=RA1-PA186#v=onepage&q=%22levi%20webster%22&f=false.

[5]Family Data Collection – Individual Records, Edmund West, comp. (Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000).  Accessed July 23, 2011.

[6] The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Volume 47 (New York:  New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, 1916), 203.  Accessed July 23, 2011, http://books.google.com/books?id=jNcUAAAAYAAJ&dq=judith%20noyes%20new%20hampshire&pg=PA203#v=onepage&q=judith%20noyes%20new%20hampshire&f=false.

[7] Vital Records of Newbury, Massachusetts to the End of the Year 1849, Volume II (Salem:  Essex Institute, 1911), 359.  Accessed July 23, 2011, http://books.google.com/books?id=JilPAAAAYAAJ&dq=%22thomas%20webster%22%20%22noyes%22&pg=PA359#v=onepage&q=%22thomas%20webster%22%20%22noyes%22&f=false.

[8] Col. Henry E. Noyes and Henriette E. Noyes, Genealogical Record of Some of the Noyes Descendants of James, Nicholas and Peter Noyes, Volume 1, Descendants of Nicholas Noyes (Boston:  New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1904), 304.  Accessed July 23, 2011, http://books.google.com/books?id=87s6AAAAMAAJ&dq=%22thomas%20webster%22%20%22noyes%22&pg=PA304#v=snippet&q=%22thomas%20webster%22&f=false.

[9] Col. Henry E. Noyes and Henriette E. Noyes, Genealogical Record of Some of the Noyes Descendants of James, Nicholas and Peter Noyes, Volume 1, Descendants of Nicholas Noyes (Boston:  New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1904).  Accessed July 23, 2011, http://books.google.com/books?id=87s6AAAAMAAJ&dq=%22thomas%20webster%22%20%22noyes%22&pg=PA304#v=snippet&q=%22thomas%20webster%22&f=false.

Letter from Emma Houston Martin

March 12”

Dear Emily and Harry: —

It is impossible for me to trace the Houston or Cox lineage beyond our immediate family. Father had no pride of that sort. He frequently said — when occasion for for it — that his mother — grandmother Houston, was a cousin, second remove[d], from Daniel Webster. Both were born near each other in New Hampshire.

She resembled him physically very closely; was mentally strong and I have no doubt of the truth of the statement. I equally have no doubt grandfather Houston was a lineal descendent from the same “stock” with Sam Houston of Texas.

The legend is: five brothers came to this country, of English and Irish descent; three remained north, two went south, the progenitors of all our line. Our old family Bible contains the birth record of father’s and mother’s family, and our family, with deaths. I have it. Of course that tells nothing you are seeking. Mother’s parents were Scotch-English. Her grandfather was a merchant in New York City, a tory. When the war commenced, he went to Maine with his family, all but Mother’s father who would not go, but stopped in Massachusetts. He was old enough to understand the reason of his father going there but not old enough, or did not join the army. After the war great grandfather Cox, returned to New York and resumed business. I suppose he owned the real estate where his store was for this story has been handed down: the army was short of bullets — were taking all the lead they could find to make them of, he, before leaving for Maine, cut all the window cords, letting the weights drop to the bottom so they could not get them. Mother’s father never lived with his father’s family afterward. Mother’s mother lived in Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts. They were married there and all their children were born there. Grandfather was a sea captain a good many years, but retired and the later years of his life owned and lived on a farm in Wilmont where they died. Mother was married there. Father was born and all his children were born, in Enfield N.H. Wilmont is in N.H. Grandmother Cox’s family were Sissons. I don’t know about them only that they were very nice, and religious people.

I once visited a family of Houstons in Wisconsin. They were Scotch. Came from Scotland with a family of small children. This Mr. Houston had a little leaflet, printed, containing the Houston pedigree. I have several he gave me and have looked every where among my probable places for such things but fail to find them to send to you. I failed to trace connexion with my family, however. I knew too little of my family record to identify relationships, but there may be. They were very bright, intelligent people. I have not kept up correspondence with them for many years.

I was very happy, Emily, to get your letter, though its not of intention that I’ve delayed so long. Time and events are seeming in so mad a chase, days rush by so fast, that I’m not “on time” in much of any thing unless a “tickd [?] is bought” and I have to go or lose my chance. Then again, I’ve not had many days at a time that I’ve felt usual well. The winter has been so variable in temperature that colds have been frequent and most uncomfortable. I’ve neglected writing any of my friends as usual.

Mr. Crosby gave us a very pleasant account of his call on you. We were very glad of the account he brought home. I hope it will be convenient for you both to visit us not very far in the future. Only let us know a few days in advance.

Mrs. Crosby just came to my room and said: tell Emily I’m expecting a letter every day tellings when they will come to see us. She sends love to you both. I will say for myself don’t come till its more settled weather. This is a windy city, like all regions near a lake. We are only six miles from Lake Ontario and changes in temperature and wind in spring months are sudden.

We should want you to go all about the city and suburbs, its so pleasant in summer time you’d best come then. I visited friends in Patchogue, S. I. in the fall. A relative by marriage, a widow and her daughters. We were in New York three days. Had I known of your whereabouts I certainly should have called on you. The city is all strange to me, but my hostess knows it well. I had a lovely time. My husband’s relative, son of his nephew, Mr. John P. Martin, of 76 Livingston Ave. Yonkers, called on me in the city. His business is in the city. I don’t know his wife..

I hope you’ll find it convenient [?] to write me again soon. I’m very glad Harry has agreeable work. Hope you are both well. Am glad of your mention of Edith and Walter and Merton.

With very much love for you both. I am sincerely yours

Emma H. Martin
29 Lake View Park
Rochester
New York

Origin of the Name “Houston”

A pamphlet by Peter Houston of Scott, Wisconsin traces the origins of the Houston family to an area west of Glasgow, Scotland, near such towns as Renfrew, Johnstone, and Houston.  The story of the surname “Houston” begins with Hugo or Hugh de Padvinian, a Briton of Roman descent who owned the estate of Kilpeter in the Shire of Renfrew in 1160.  In 1250, “the name of Kilpeter was changed to that of Houstoun, and…Sir Finlay de Houstoun, third in succession from Hugo de Padvinian, assumed the name of Houstoun from the Entailed Estate now known as the Barony of Houstoun.”  Houston means “the settlement belonging to Hugh.”[1]  Presumably all Houstons descend from one offshoot of the ancient Houston family in Scotland.  The family coat of arms depicts two greyhounds, an hourglass with wings, and the phrase “in tempore”—memorializing some swift Houston who delivered a timely rescue.


1 “House of Names.”  Swyrich Corporation.  Accessed February 16, 2011, http://www.houseofnames.com/.