Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Finley Willson Houston

Finley Houston at the Virginia Military Institute, 1918

     He was the oldest son of one of Rockbridge County's most respected citizens. His father was an 1840 graduate of Washington College, and by the early 1870s Finley seemed destined to follow that same path. Fate would intervene, however, and young Finley would have to succeed in life on his own terms.

Finley Houston, 1870s

     Finley Willson Houston was born at Mount Pleasant farm, near Fairfield, on September 10, 1852. He was the second son of George Washington Houston and Annette Louise Willson, and their first child to survive infancy. Like his brother and his sisters, Finley grew up in a loving, but devoutly Presbyterian household. His father was an elder at New Providence Church, and Finley remained a part of its congregation until he was a young adult, when he transferred his membership to Lexington Presbyterian Church.

Finley Houston, about 1880
     Finley was a bright child, and his father doubtless saw in his son the potential of a career in a profession such as law or medicine. George Houston enrolled his son in Dr. Pinkerton's Classical School for Boys as preparation for entry into Washington College in nearby Lexington. But it was not to be. The summer before he was to begin his college courses, Finley was kicked by a horse. His injury was serious, and he was laid up for almost a year. He lost the sight of one eye. Finley never continued his formal education, and began to pursue a career in business instead.

Grace Ann Alexander (Courtesy of Elizabeth H. Robinson)

     By the early 1870s, Finley had taken a romantic interest in Grace Ann Alexander, who lived at nearby "Red House," the beautiful home called "Veranda" by the Alexanders.

Red House

     Born on February 1, 1851, Grace was the oldest child of Dr. John McCluer Alexander and Ann Eliza Gibson. After her father died in 1867, Grace was sent to St. Charles, Missouri, where she lived for a time with her uncle, William Archibald Alexander, a prominent lawyer and mayor of the city. While there, she attended the Lindenwood College for Women.

Grace Ann Alexander (Courtesy of Elizabeth H. Robinson)

     Grace then returned to Virginia, and by the early 1870s was once again living at Red House. In 1875, the same year in which his sister, Lizzie, would marry George Washington Estes Row, Finley asked Grace to marry him. Their wedding took place at Red House on October 26, 1875. The wedding was officiated by Reverend Horatio Davenport Thompson, minister at Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church.

From the Bible of Finley Houston (Courtesy of Elizabeth H. Robinson)
     During the first ten years of their marriage, Finley and Grace would spend time both at Red House and Mount Pleasant. All four of their daughters were born at Red House: Anna Bruce (born in 1877), Annette Willson (born in 1878), Grace Agnes (born in 1880, died in 1881 "after being given the wrong food") and Mary Alexander (born in 1882).

Anna Bruce Houston

Annette Willson Houston

Mary Alexander Houston
     Until 1885, Finley's primary occupation was that of farming. During the 1870s, he and his father worked as authorized agents of the Aultman & Taylor Company, and introduced the steam thresher to Rockbridge County.

Aultman & Taylor envelope, "Geo. W. Houston & Son, Fairfield, Va."

     The year 1882 brought many changes to Finley's life. His father died of pneumonia in February. Finley became deputy sheriff of Rockbridge County, and later would serve as deputy treasurer. Late in the year, he had a dramatic confrontation with the Valley Railroad, which was laying track behind the house at Mount Pleasant. It was during that troubled time that his youngest daughter, Mary, was born.

Major Finley Houston, Virginia Military Institute

     On January 1, 1885, Finley began his long tenure as quartermaster at the Virginia Military Institute. During his years there, he and his family lived on campus in quarters where Crozet Hall is now located. This was the first time the Houstons had a home all to themselves. Because of Grace's frail health, servants were hired to assist the family with the domestic chores.
     While at VMI, Major Houston had responsibility for ordering and keeping inventory for all supplies for the mess hall and barracks. He also saw to the maintenance and renovation of the Institute's buildings. Finley oversaw the construction of Jackson Memorial Hall 1893-1896.
     Finley and Grace never had sons, so Finley taught his daughters the same skills he would have shared with his boys. The girls were taught to handle a team of horses, and Bruce and Mary also learned to ride side-saddle (Annette, being anemic, did not have the strength or endurance for horse riding). Finley taught his daughters how to fish and shoot, and Mary often went hunting with him. In winter, the Houston sisters would skate on the North River (now named the Maury), and in summer they would go boating.
     Jennie Letcher, a daughter of John Letcher--governor of Virginia during the Civil War--ran a private school for girls at her home in Lexington. The Houston girls began their education there. Bruce, Annette and Mary then spent two years at the Ann Smith Academy, where Finley's mother and sisters had once been students. Annette and Mary finished their formal education at Lexington High School, while Bruce would go on to graduate from the State Female Normal School (modern Longwood University) in Farmville in 1900.


     Near Lexington, on the opposite bank of the Maury River, stands Clifton, a house built about 1815 that once belonged to the Alexander family, who were among Grace's ancestors. Soon after he became president of Washington College in 1865, Robert E. Lee persuaded William Preston Johnston to take a teaching position there. Johnston was a son of General Albert Sidney Johnston, who had been killed during the battle of Shiloh. During the war, the younger Johnston served as aide-de-camp to Jefferson Davis, and was captured with him in Irwinville, Georgia. After accepting Lee's offer of a professorship at Washington College, Johnston bought Clifton, where he and his family lived until the mid-1870s. Lee and Johnston used to sit on the porch at Clifton and watch the boat races of the college rowing teams.
     After the Johnstons left Lexington, Clifton changed hands several times. Then, on April 17, 1897, Finley and Grace Houston bought it and its accompanying 17 acres for $2,600. The Houston family moved to Clifton from their quarters at VMI. Clifton would remain in the Houston family for the next 80 years. The photo below shows the Houston sisters at Clifton in the late 1890s.

Mary, Annette and Bruce Houston at Clifton

     Major Finley Houston retired as quartermaster of VMI on January 1, 1902, having served 17 years at his post. He then assumed new and varied roles and would stay active for many years. Chief among his pursuits was farming. He raised award-winning hogs and grew water cress on Colliers and Buffalo creeks.

Finley Houston cress pond, early 1900s

Advertisement for Clifton Stock Farm

Feed bag tag, printed in New Mexico by Finley's son-in-law, Ben Harlow

     When the railroad came to Lexington in the early 1880s, a spur line was built in front of Clifton. In the photograph below, Clifton can be seen at right. House Mountain looms ahead and Lexington lies around the bend of the North River.

     Finley also had business interests in town. He was president of the Gazette Publishing Company, which published The Lexington Gazette. He served on the Tax Revision Board and the County Electoral Board. He was also a deeply committed Mason. He served as Master of the Mountain City Lodge No. 67, was Past High Priest of Royal Arch Chapter No. 44, and was a member of Moomaw Commandery No. 27, Knights Templar. He was also a Shriner. In the two photographs below, Finley poses in his Masonic uniform at Clifton:

     Although Finley and Grace's daughters had been tomboys when younger, by the turn of the century they had become lovely young women, and they attracted the attention of many young men attending Washington & Lee University and VMI. The sisters' names frequently appeared in the society pages of The Lexington Gazette as they attended dances, weddings and a variety of chaperoned events. Most evenings, a steady stream of young men would come calling on the girls at Clifton. The last would be expected to leave by 11 p. m. That was the hour Finley retired. Standing six feet and weighing 200 pounds, he made quite an impression on these lads as they arrived at his home. Upon retiring each night, Finley set his boots outside his bedroom door so that they could be polished by a servant by morning. If the last caller had not taken the hint that it was time to leave, Finley would drop the boots with an emphatic thud, which signaled that the evening had come to an end.
     Each of the Houston sisters married a graduate of Washington & Lee. Their weddings were held at Clifton. Bruce married William Emrys Davis in 1902. Annette married Benjamin Franklin Harlow, Jr., in 1905. And Mary married Americus Frederic White in 1914. The photograph below, taken on September 7, 1905, depicts the wedding day of Annette and Ben, who stand at far right. Mary stands at center, and Annette and William stand at left. Finley and Grace are seated. The newlyweds gaze into the camera; the others look off  to the side.

Wedding day of Annette Houston and Ben Harlow

     Always in delicate health, Grace Houston continued to decline during her years at Clifton. She suffered with rheumatism, among other things, but bore her misfortunes with fortitude and "sweetness of disposition."

Grace Alexander Houston

     Grace died on August 6, 1907. She was 56 years old. Her funeral was held at Clifton and was conducted by Reverend Dr. Charles Manley. She is buried in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington.

     After Grace's death, Finley and Mary continued to live at Clifton. The Harlows were living in Roswell, New Mexico and the Davises were living in Jellico, Tennessee. As Finley's health declined, Mary assumed responsibility for many things at Clifton, such as preparing the rooms in the outbuildings that would be rented to college students. This would sometimes require doing some painting, which Mary would take care of.
     After Mary and Fred White were married in 1914, they moved to Donora, Pennsylvania, where Fred worked in the management of a steel mill. Finley now lived alone at Clifton with one or two servants.

Finley Houston, 1916

     Life took a dramatic and tragic turn for the worse for the Houstons in 1916. During the birth of her first child, Finley's granddaughter, Mary, suffered complications. Her husband, Fred, kept Finley informed of Mary's condition in a series of handwritten notes mailed from Donora. All that modern medicine could do at the time for Mary proved unavailing, and she died on December 8, 1916. Her body was brought back to Lexington, where she was buried near her mother and sister Grace Agnes.

Finley's letter to his sister, Lizzie, February 1917

     The news of Mary's death had a devastating effect on Finley. He suffered a heart attack, but survived. Two months later, Finley wrote to his sister, Lizzie Row: "I have been so crushed over Mary's sudden & to me entirely unexpected death that I have not been able to talk or write about it...The funeral was one of the largest I ever saw. Mary had so many friends in all parts of the country & the flowers nearly filled the parlor..."
     Immediately upon hearing of her sister's death, Bruce Davis sped to her father's side to comfort him and help him with his correspondence, as he was having problems with his one good eye. Soon thereafter, Annette and her son Houston arrived at Clifton from Roswell, New Mexico. Fred had worried how he would be able to take care of his daughter, whom he named for Mary, and keep up with his responsibilities at the steel mill. Annette offered to take young Mary and raise her as her own. Fred decided he had become too attached to his baby to give her up, and he made do until he remarried in 1921.
     Finley convinced Annette and Ben to sell their interest in the printing business in Roswell and come home to Clifton. Ben took over at the Gazette Publishing Company and published The Lexington Gazette until 1946, and his son assumed control until 1962. In the photograph below, Finley sits with his grandson, Houston. Ben Harlow is at right, with Annette behind him. The woman behind Finley is not identified.

 Lizzie Houston Row traveled from Spotsylvania to Rockbridge to be with her brothers after the death of her niece. Finley, Will and Lizzie posed for this photograph, the only one of all three of them together known to exist:

     By 1925, Finley's heart problems had worsened to the point where he was bedridden most of the time. After visiting Clifton in December that year, Will Houston wrote to Lizzie: "I saw Finley twice last week. He is not in good shape at all. He is going around his room but Hunter [Dr. Oscar Hunter McClung, Finley and Will's cousin] is afraid of a stroke or apoplexy and we are all very anxious for him."
     In March 1926, an unfortunate incident added to Finley's woes, when his two dogs chased rabbits on the farm of a neighbor. Annette gave Will the details in a letter she wrote on the 12th: "Father has been in bed a week, had a right severe heart attack Thursday night of last week and has been in bed ever since. Monday a week ago Neil Wormledorf killed both of our dogs and Father got so worked up over the injustice of it that he has been sick ever since. I haven't said much about Father's being sick because he has so many bad spells and lately he hasn't felt able to do much talking without it being too much for him."
     Finley Willson Houston died at home at 2:15 a. m. on Christmas eve, 1926. His funeral was held at Lexington Presbyterian Church and was conducted by Reverend J. J. Murray, and with full Masonic honors. His death was front page news in The Lexington Gazette. He is buried with his wife and daughters in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery.

(Photo by Carl Weaver, Findagrave)

     Two weeks after Finley's death, Annette wrote this to her Aunt Lizzie: "I didn't want him to linger bedridden and helpless because it was such a punishment to him. It really made my heart ache to see how patient he was and had been for a year. Because he loved to go to town & meet his friends in the street to chat...For a man who loved people, who loved to be in the midst of things to have to spend his time between his room & the front porch, reading & feeding his pet squirrels, was very pathetic...He never once complained. Just accepted it."



Strout, Shirley Kreason. "Journey To Virginia." Themis, Winter 1957.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Annette Louise Willson

View from the front porch of Mount Pleasant

     James Willson was born in Scotland about 1715. When he and his brother Moses were still quite young, they immigrated to Ireland with their parents. Soon the Willson family laid plans to sail to the American colonies, where other family members had already settled in Pennsylvania. The Willsons safely boarded the ship that was to take them there, but tragedy struck while still near the western coast of France. The ship hit a reef, took on water and sank. Many of the crew and passengers lost their lives, including the parents of James and Moses. Another ship nearby, also making way to America, came to the rescue of the survivors, including the now orphaned Willson brothers, who were brought to Philadelphia. The Willson relatives already in Pennsylvania were contacted, and they raised the two boys as their own. Moses appears to have remained in Pennsylvania, while James made his way south up the Shenandoah Valley to Augusta County and what would become Rockbridge County. [1]
     James Willson bought 700 acres "of government land," presumably part of the Borden Grant, and in 1756 built a house on what he called "Mount Pleasant." After James' death in 1809, part of this land went to a daughter, who sold it to a family named Scott. Ultimately, James' grandson, Thomas, bought it from the Scotts, and Mount Pleasant remained a Willson property until his death in 1857 [2].

Map detail of Rockbridge County, c. 1863

     In the Civil War-era map detail shown above, Fairfield can be seen at the bottom of the image. The red line running obliquely just above it is the Valley Turnpike, modern Route 11. Just above that, "G. W. Houston" indicates the location of Mount Pleasant.

Thomas Willson (1794-1857)

     Thomas Willson married Elizabeth Hopkins Poague in Augusta County on October 9, 1826. They made Mount Pleasant their home, and raised nine children there. The first was Amanda Jane, born in 1828. She married William Lyle Hunter of Augusta County in 1853. Amanda and William had three sons together until her death on May 19, 1866.

William Lyle Hunter (1828-1881)

     Annette Louise Willson was born at Mount Pleasant on October 26, 1829. Annette had two younger sisters. Mary Elizabeth (1831-1888) married Fairfield physician John Alexander McClung in 1854. Elvira Ann (1837-1864) married Samuel Rutherford Lackey in 1860.

Dr. John Alexander McClung (1826-1910)

     Annette had five younger brothers, all of whom fought for the Confederacy, and who will be subjects of future posts here. They were: John Edgar (b. 1833), James Howard (b. 1835), Thomas Mitchell (b. 1840), William Norval--also spelled "Norvell" (b. 1843) and Matthew Doak (b. 1844).

Annette Willson Houston

     The Willsons were people of substance, and could provide their children with the best opportunities available. Annette attended the Ann Smith Academy in Lexington. Her daughter, Lizzie, and at least three of her granddaughters also went to school at Ann Smith.

George Washington Houston

     On May 23, 1850, Annette married George Washington Houston of nearby "Level Loop." The Houstons made their home at Mount Pleasant, which became the property of George after the death of Thomas Willson in 1857.
     George and Annette had seven children:
- Three sons who died in infancy 1851-1861
- Finley Willson, born September 10, 1852.
- Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie," born April 29, 1854.
- William George "Will," born October 31, 1864.
- Ann Eliza "Annie," born October 6, 1866.
     In 1875, Annette's two oldest children were married. In October, Finley married Grace Ann Alexander of "Red House," also known as "Veranda." For the next 10 years, Finley and his family  would stay at both Red House and Mount Pleasant. Lizzie married George Washington Estes Row in December. They lived on the Row farm in Spotsylvania County, where Lizzie lived for the rest of her life.
     The early 1880s brought stress and heartache into Annette's life. In October 1881, two of her grandchildren died. On the 7th, Lizzie's son, Robert Alexander Row died in Spotsylvania. On the 13th, Finley's daughter Grace Ann died. George Houston died of pneumonia at Mount Pleasant on February 18, 1882. This circumstance obliged Annette's son, Will, to return home from the Augusta Military Academy, where he had been a student. That same year, the Valley Railroad prepared the rail bed and laid track through Mount Pleasant. The blasting made necessary by the presence of rock near the ground's surface caused much damage to the Houston property, and several times family members or employees were nearly struck by flying rock. The details of that episode, and Finley's efforts to protect his family, can be read here.
     Annette's two youngest children were married in the 1890s. Will married Mary Frances "Fannie" Ervine in 1894. They made Mount Pleasant their home, and in fact lived there for the rest of their lives. Annie married William Morton McNutt in 1898. They immediately moved to Victoria, Texas, where Morton worked for the railroad. They returned to Rockbridge about 1901.
     By this time, Annette's health began to fail. In a letter written to Lizzie Row on November 19, 1898, Fannie Houston noted that Annette "wished to write herself for the past four days, but after a little note to Annie concluded it was a little too much for her strength. She is sitting up now a good deal now and came to the table this morning but is far from strong yet...I think when Ma gets stronger and becomes interested in things again she will be better. Her nerves are very much unstrung..."

First page of Annette Houston's last letter

     On May 24, 1899, Annette rallied to write her last letter to Lizzie. It is a cheerful note, full of news about herself and other family members. It reads, in part: "My Dear Lizzie, I wanted to write you on Monday but have not been very well for several days but am about as usual again....I have not been to N.P. [3] yet. W[ill] took me to the Snyder school house Sunday week to evening preaching. It was a beautiful evening. I enjoyed the drive and Mr. Wilson [4] preached one of his best sermons and everybody was so cordial. I was sitting near where Mr. Wilson passed when he came in. He stopped and spoke so cordially and after he was through preaching came and shook hands again and told me how glad he was to see me. It was 15 months since I had been to church before and when the weather gets hot will not be able to get there much this summer."
      The end came just a little over a week after she wrote this letter.

Finley's letter to Lizzie, June 2, 1899

     During dinner at Mount Pleasant on June 1, Annette suffered a stroke. Will phoned Finley at "Clifton," his home near Lexington. Finley drove out to Mount Pleasant and did what he could to help. He then wrote Lizzie and gave her the bad news:

"My Dear Lizzie
You will be suprised to receive a letter from me on this letterhead, & still more when I tell you it is 3 o'clock A. M. I had a phone message from Willie about 8:30 last night saying, 'Ma is very ill, come at once.' The line was not working well, so did not learn more until I reached him at one o'clock. Find that Ma was somewhat more complaining than usual yesterday morn, but got up when Aunt Lizzie came about 11 o'clock. At dinner she took her usual place & attempted to serve the coffee. Did not complain, although Aunt E noticed that she was very pale, seemed to turn so suddenly. Then she spoke of having a severe pain in her head, attempted to leave the table & would have fallen if they had not caught her. She was assisted to her chair by the window, declining to go to her room. They gave her camphor, rubbed her hands, etc. when she seemed to get better, but said she 'felt very queerly,' her 'hands & feet tingled & her mind seemed to be leaving her.' Willie thought her better & went on to his work. She walked to the kitchen to warm her feet & talked as usual, played some with Francis [5]. But later Fannie noticed that she was growing worse, so sent for W About six o'clock she lost consciousness--has been so ever since. She does not seem to suffer, but cannot be aroused, her pulse very quick and weak. I fear that the end will come very soon, or may come at any time. She spent part of last week & until Tuesday at Uncle Thos., attended church Saturday and Sunday.  She seemed to have a premonition of paralysis, spoke to W about it on their way home Tuesday eve. We are going to try to reach you by wire as soon as the office opens & will keep you posted..."

     Finley then added this postscript:

     "I wrote you a hurried note early this A. M. & later tried to reach you by wire, to let you know of Ma's condition. There has been no decided change since this morning, she is still just as low as she can be to live, the choking & gasping spells are more frequent & we think each will be the last. We had no idea that she would live through the day, any moment will be her last. She does not appear to suffer pain, is just slowly sinking...
With much love your affectionate Bro

     Annette Houston died early on the morning of June 3, 1899. Her obituary appeared in two local newspapers:

Lexington Gazette, June 7, 1899

     Lizzie took the train from Spotsylvania to attend her mother's funeral and to stay with her brothers for a few days. Later, she pinned flowers from her mother's grave to a piece of paper and kept them for the rest of her life:

     For Will, Finley and Annie (who was still in Victoria, Texas), the loss of their mother was a sad, but not entirely unexpected event, and they would be able to come to terms with her death. For Lizzie Houston Row, however, her own personal nightmare had just begun.
     Annette is buried next to her husband in the cemetery at New Providence Presbyterian Church. The inscription on her headstone reads: "Her children arise up and call her blessed."


[1] "Handwritten notes of Frederick Newton Willson (b. 1855 d. 1939), Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University and author of two books."

[2] Letter of Fannie Houston to Lizzie Houston Row, August 8, 1911.

[3] New Providence Presbyterian Church.

[4] Reverend Goodridge Alexander Wilson, pastor at New Providence 1892-1909.

[5] Son of Will and Fannie Houston.


Monday, January 2, 2017

George Washington Houston

George Washington Houston

     He was a quiet, pious man, a lifelong member of New Providence Presbyterian Church, where he was an elder. He was described as "a man of retired habits of life, unostentatious, but a useful citizen." He was a farmer, a man of business, a slave owner, a justice of the peace and a father deeply interested in the spiritual lives of his children.

Map detail of Rockbridge County, c. 1863 (

     George Washington Houston was born at "Level Loop", the home of his parents William and Elizabeth Finley Houston, on June 22, 1820. The 200-year-old house at Level Loop still stands near Hays Creek, about a mile west of Brownsburg, seen at left in the map detail above.

Reverend James Morrison (Washington & Lee Archives)
     George received his early education from Reverend James Morrison, pastor at New Providence Presbyterian Church 1819-1857. Born in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, Morrison was a graduate of the University of North Carolina.

New Providence Presbyterian Church (Washington & Lee Archives)

     Reverend Morrison prepared young George Houston well. George enrolled at Washington College in Lexington, where he graduated in 1840 at the age of 20.

George Houston. J. H. Burdette, Photographer, Staunton, Virginia

     George continued to live at Level Loop with his father and stepmother and stepsisters until he was 30 years old. On May 23, 1850, he married Annette Louise Willson of nearby "Mt. Pleasant." In the Civil War-era map above, Mt. Pleasant is located where "G. W. Houston" is indicated, just above the village of Fairfield. With the death of Annette's father, Thomas Willson, in 1857, George Houston became the owner of Mt. Pleasant; it would remain the home of the Houstons for 100 years.

Annette Willson Houston

     George and Annette Houston had seven children together, only four of whom survived childhood:
- Their first born, a son, died on April 13, 1851. He is buried at New Providence.
- Finley Willson, born September 10, 1852.
- Mary Elizabeth ("Lizzie"), born April 29, 1854.
- A son, born February 7, 1861, who did not survive.
- A fourth son, mentioned in a letter of genealogy kept by Lizzie Houston Row. This boy also died young.
- William George ("Will"), born October 31, 1864.
- Ann Eliza ("Annie"), born October 6, 1866.
     The 1860 census shows George and Annette Houston and their two oldest children, Finley and Lizzie, living together at Mt. Pleasant. Also part of the household were two of Annette's five brothers, Thomas and Matthew, her uncle James Willson and his daughter Elizabeth. George Houston's real estate was valued at $7,155, his personal estate at $5,472. Much of his personal wealth can be attributed to his ownership of 10 slaves.

James Willson (1791-1864)

     In 1864, the justice of the peace for District 6 of Rockbridge County was John Marion Templeton, who enlisted as captain of Company B, 4th Battalion Valley Reserves on April 16, 1864. Less than six weeks later, on June 5, Templeton was killed at the Battle of Piedmont in Augusta County. George Houston was elected to take his place.

The Aultman-Taylor Company

     During the 1870s, George and his son, Finley, worked as agents for the Aultman-Taylor Company, and introduced the steam thresher to Rockbridge County. Their names can be seen on the envelope shown above.
     After her marriage to George Washington Estes Row in 1875, George Houston's daughter, Lizzie, lived in Spotsylvania County. On October 7, 1881, her infant son, Robert Alexander Row, died. Her father, who had himself experienced the same loss three times, sent Lizzie the poem, "A Child in Heaven," copied in his own hand:

"A Child in Heaven"

     Just four months later, on February 18, 1882, George Washington Houston died of pneumonia at Mt. Pleasant. An appraisal of his estate was made, and an estate sale was advertised at the court house.

Estate sale of George W. Houston

     The estate sale of George Houston was not a success. In any event, even if all his belongings had been sold at top dollar, that money would have been woefully inadequate to satisfy the debts of his estate, which amounted to $2,440. It would be many years before his creditors--which included members of his family, friends, local merchants and others--would see any money. The tale of how Mt. Pleasant would be saved from financial ruin will be the subject of a future post.
     George is buried at New Providence. His headstone incorrectly displays "1829" as the year of his birth. The inscription reads:
George W. Houston
Born June 22, 1829
departed this life
Feb 18, 1882
in the assured hope of a blessed immortality


Brown, Katherine L. New Providence Church, 1746-1996: A History (Raphine, VA: New Providence Church, 1996)

Morton, Oren Frederick. A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia (Staunton, VA: The McClure Company, Inc., 1920)

Library of Virginia. Rockbridge County Chancery Causes, Index Number 1902-12, "Finley W. Houston Etc vs Heir(s) of George W. Houston Etc."

Ancestry. com

Washington & Lee University Special Collections and Archives

Catalogue of the Officers and Alumni of Washington and Lee University, 1749-1888