Huston Family in Alpena County, Michigan

According to Franklin Warren Houston of North Middleton, Kentucky, (as recorded in E. Rankin Huston's "History of the Huston Families") the names Huston and Houston jointly descend from Robert House-son of Dublin who was born July 5, 1450.  The name is supposedly of some Celtic origin, but that part is not explained.  Robert's son John, born in 1475, was sent to St. Andrew's College, Scotland where he subsequently held a position of languages instructor.  John House-son's son Samuel was born September 3, 1523 and eventually took his father's position at St. Andrew's when John House-son died.  Samuel House-son had two sons Alfred, born September 6, 1572, and Abnor, born October 10, 1577.  With the Reformation and its attendant wars and religious discrimination raging through Europe, the House-sons decided to hide their ancestry by changing their names.  Alfred chose Houston and Abnor chose Huston.  They married twin daughters of Welch Sconce, an Aberdeen merchant, on  January 13, 1607.  Alfred married Ruth and Abnor married Rachel.  On April 12, 1612 Alfred Houston and his family moved to the Jamestown Plantation.  He was an adherent to the teachings of the reformer John Knox, and he became the Knox doctrine preacher in Jamestown.  Alfred convinced his brother Abnor to leave his mercantile business in Wales, Corwon, Scotland and join the Jamestown Colony.  Abnor Huston and his family sailed for Jamestown on September 3, 1616.

In Jamestown Abnor Huston met John Rolfe of Pocahontas fame.  Abnor combined his own business background with Rolfe's background with the colonists, the local Indians, and their agriculture, and they jointly formed a company to sell colonial tobacco in England along with potatoes and Indian furs, all of which were in high demand in England, Ireland, and continental Europe.  Abnor and Rachel Huston had three sons who all married on Christmas day 1633.  Joseph married Jane Lennox, John married Margaret Hathaway, and Samuel Married Rachel Alexander.  Joseph, Samuel, and their respective families moved to Fairfax, VA.  From there three of their sons moved back to Ireland.  It is a matter of speculation that the Irish Hustons who subsequently immigrated to Canada from Ireland were descended from these three sons.  In 1654 the third son, John Huston, moved his family to the place where Philadelphia would be started by William Penn.  He helped Penn survey his land grant and became influential in that community.  E. Rankin Huston believes that all of the old Hustons in America are descended this John Huston.  Our branch of the Hustons, if they are indeed related to this family are related through the three sons who moved back to Ireland, only to return to the States almost two hundred years later.  There is further evidence that in between these two times, a John Huston emigrated from Ireland in 1735 to Cumberland Co., PA.  He had a son Robert Huston who married a Margaret Davidson.  They had a son Samuel Huston who married an Elizabeth Paxton.  Sometime after the family moved to Virginia they changed the spelling of their name to Houston that was used by their distant relatives who still lived in the Shenandoah Valley, descendents of Alfred Houston.  Their son was Samuel Houston, who had a town in Texas named after him.

The Huston family I know of came originally from the north of Ireland, and they settled for a time in Thurso, Quebec, between Lachute and Ottowa on the Ottowa River.  The patriarch of this clan in North America was named Joseph Huston, and he brought his family over the pond in the late 1820's.  His son, Robert Huston, married Letticia Edgar in Goderich, Ontario, about 45 miles northwest of Stratford, Ontario on the Lake Huron shoreline.  They moved their family to the Ida Grove, Iowa area in 1878 after an eight year stopover in Alpena, Michigan.   The family appears to have been part of a group of families named Huston that also moved to the Stratford area, and they all appear to have recycled the names Robert, Joseph, and Samuel in wild profusion.  Members of the Stratford Hustons are know to have moved separately to the southern Michigan area, and I have a photo of an R.J. Huston, dated Bay City (MI. ?), Oct. 21, '89 but bearing a Stratford, Ont. photographer's mark (Maitland, Market Square, Stratford, Ont.).  This R. J. Huston is unknown to our family.  To make things more difficult, some of the families appear to have thought that the rest of the family didn't know how to spell and changed the spelling to Houston.  As far as I can tell, none of them used the Heuston spelling used in Ireland, as in Heuston Station, the train station in Dublin.

The Huston family in Alpena County, Michigan began with Joseph Edgar Huston (Edgar was his maternal grandfather's last name, and he shared his middle name with a number of brothers and nephews).  He moved back to Alpena County in about 1880 from Ida Grove, Iowa to work in the lumber camps (he appears in the 1880 census in Alpena).  He worked for the Richardson lumber company and met Annie McDade who was a cook in the camp.  They were married and my grandfather's older brother Victor were born in Alpena.  In the early 1890's they returned to the farm in Iowa.  After one to two years in Iowa, Annie McDade's brother Tom McDade, who was a well-known Alpena lumberman and part-owner of the Richardson lumber company, told them they could buy a farm on the Richardson lands.  It was a piece of land near where M-32 crosses the North Branch of the Thunder Bay River about six miles east of Hillman.

Joe and Annie Huston's surviving son Thomas Merrick (another characteristic family name) was born, I believe, in Iowa in 1891, but he lived in Alpena County almost his entire life.  He married Elsie Munns, a young English immigrant, and they had two children, my mother Catherine and her younger brother Robert Joseph (again).  Grandpa Merrick died quite young in 1928 when my mother was seven years old and uncle Bob was five.  As a consequence I have only second-hand knowledge of him.  My grandmother re-married to James ("Jimmie") James who was the person I knew as grandpa.

The Known Huston Tree Stratford, Ont. Hustons
The Known McDade Tree Lyle, MN Hustons
The Munns Family Joseph, Annie, and Merrick Huston
Photos of Unknown Hustons and Friends


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