David W. Houston, the oldest living pioneer of Garnett, Kan., has had a long and honorable career in this state, and has filled many official positions of great responsibility. He was born in Mahoning county, Ohio, June 13, 1827, a son of John and Grace (McCall) Houston, both of whom were natives of Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. John Houston was born in 1782 and was a son of William Houston, a Revolutionary patriot, who fought at the battle of Brandywine, where he was severely wounded, taken prisoner and thrust on board the British prison ships anchored at Philadelphia. After lying there for several months he was exchanged and returned home, but never fully recovered from his wounds or the treatment received aboard the prison ships. He was the son of John Houston, who was the founder of this branch of the Houston family in America, and was a native of the North of Ireland, who emigrated to Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, in 1734. While the latter and his wife were on a visit to Ireland their son, William, the grandfather of Colonel Houston of this review, was born. Afterwards John returned to Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, where he died.
In 1800 William Houston and his family removed to Mahoning county, Ohio. John, the father of Colonel Houston, was the eldest of three sons and six daughters born to his parents, and was about eighteen years of age at the time of the family's removal to the dense forest wilderness in Ohio. He was a soldier in the war of 1812. In 1810 he married Grace McCall and to their union were born three sons and six daughters, namely: William, John McCall, Jane, Elizabeth, Mary A., Alexander, Melissa, David W. and Cynthia Y. Of this family but two survived in 1910Mrs. Mary A. McBurney, of Youngstown, Ohio, and Col. David W. Houston, of this review. In 1849 John Houston, with the subject of this review, then a young man, moved across the line into Lawrence county, Pennsylvania, where he and his wife ended their days on a farm.
Colonel Houston, after receiving a preliminary education in the common schools of his native state, and at the academy of New Bedford, Pa., entered Franklin College, at Meadville, Pa., where he completed the scientific course. Possessed of fine literary tastes and a genuine love of culture, his attention was finally turned to law, and to prepare for that profession he entered the office of Hon. D. B. Kurts, of Newcastle, Pa., where, after two years of diligent study, he was admitted to the bar in 1855. He at once formed a law partnership with Gen. R. B. McComb, at Newcastle, which continued until he came to Kansas, in 1858. He was radical in his anti-slavery views, casting his first vote for John P. Hale, in 1848, and longed to cast his lot with the anti-slavery movement in Kansas, and urged by his convictions he came to this state in March, 1858, locating at Garnett, Anderson county. He became a spirited actor in the stirring events of that period and spent much of his time guarding against the border ruffians who tried to establish slavery in the territory. He had begun the practice of law at Garnett and was thus engaged when the outbreak of the Civil war came. He promptly enlisted as a private in Company G. Seventh regiment, Kansas cavalry, and was soon commissioned first lieutenant, in which capacity he served until 1862, when he was promoted to the captaincy of Company H of the same regiment. Later he was promoted to be lieutenant-colonel of his regiment. This regiment was recruited in the summer of 1861, and was mustered into the United States service, 902 strong, at Fort Leavenworth, Oct. 28, 1861, for three years. It was immediately ordered into the field and served during the fall and winter of 1861-62 in western Missouri. Its first battle was on the Little Blue river, where Companies A, B and H were engaged with a force commanded by the notorious Upton Hays. On Jan. 31, 1862, it moved to Humboldt, Kan., and on March 25 was ordered to Lawrence. In May the regiment embarked on transports for Columbus, Ky., whence it shortly moved to Jacinto, Miss., and thence to Rienzi, Miss., where it remained until the evacuation of the post, Sept. 30, 1862. It was assigned to Col. Philip H. Sheridan's cavalry brigade, Army of the Mississippi, and here Colonel Houston was for a time brigadier-general on Col. Philip Sheridan's staff, and the regiment while stationed at Rienzi was constantly in the saddle, engaging in numerous severe cavalry skirmishes. The regiment was active during Van Dorn's raid upon Corinth and was in the advance during the pursuit of Ripley, Miss. Returning to Corinth it next engaged in an expedition into Alabama, under command of Colonel Lee, routed Roddey's cavalry at Buzzard Roost station and took a number of prisoners. On its return to Corinth it was ordered to join Grant's army at Grand Junction, and had a sharp engagement with the Confederate cavalry under General Jackson, near Lamar, Miss.; also routed the enemy's garrison at Holly Springs, on Nov. 28. As Grant's army moved into Mississippi the Seventh held the extreme advance during the greater portion of the campaign. It was the first to cross the Tallahatchie; led the advance into Oxford; was first into Water Valley; and was heavily engaged with the advance at Coffeeville. It then fell back with the cavalry to Water Valley and formed a part of the force sent to intercept Van Dorn, when that general captured Holly Springs and burnt Grant's stores. It was then engaged in guard duty along the Memphis & Charleston railroad until April, 1863, and in the latter part of that month became a part of Gen. Dodge's cavalry engaged with Roddey's and Forrest's cavalry at Tuscumbia, Leighton and Town Creek, later engaging with General Grierson in his famous raid through Mississippi. This regiment was stationed at Corinth from May 9, 1863, until Jan. 8, 1864, during which time it was almost constantly in the saddle and participated in many severe battles and skirmishes, notably at Florence and Hamburg, Ala., Iuka, Swallow's Bluff, Byhalia, Wyatt and Ripley, Miss. Colonel Houston was mustered out in March, 1864, after being forced to resign on account of being badly crushed when his horse fell on him after rearing with its hind feet on Colonel Houston's breast. His injuries required his detention in the hospital for some time, and so incapacitated him for duty that he resigned. The Seventh Kansas cavalry was finally mustered out at Fort Leavenworth, Sept. 29, 1865, having served a term of three years and eleven months, during which it marched, exclusive of distance traveled on transports and by rail, 12,050 miles. The Seventh was known as one of the fighting regiments of the war.
Returning to Garnett he resumed the practice of law. In the fall of 1864 he was elected on the Republican ticket to the Kansas state senate, serving two years, the sessions then being annual, and took an active part in the successful fight against issuing legislative grants to the railroads. In 1869 he was appointed United States marshal of the entire State of Kansas, by President U. S. Grant, and held that position until 1873. While serving as marshal he and his deputies took the census of Kansas in 1870, and it was also during his incumbency of that office that the fifteenth amendment to the constitution of the United States was ratified by the state legislature at Topeka, Colonel Houston being a stanch advocate of the equal suffrage of the two races. He was one of the organizers of the first Union League of Kansas, at Leavenworth, and was its first president. He was a delegate to the state convention that met at Osawatomie in 1859 to organize the Republican party in the state, was one of the vice-presidents of that convention, a member of its committee on platform, and helped to draft the first Republican platform adopted by the party in the state, being now probably the only member of that committee still living. When he was appointed United States marshal he removed to Leavenworth, and in May, 1873, purchased the "Daily Commercial" of that city, which he edited two years before disposing of it. In 1877 he returned to Garnett. He was one of the pioneers in railroad building and for many years was a director of the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston railroad. At his own expense he surveyed the line from Garnett to the territory line, made and filed a plat of the road with the Interior Department at Washington, D. C., in time to save this road its share of a 500,000 acre grant of government land, and all he ever received for those services was the honor of being a director of the road for a number of years. He frequently made inspecting tours over the line from Lawrence to the territory line by horseback, and as attorney for this road he prepared its present charter. Elected to the lower house of the state legislature on the Republican ticket, in 1880, he took an active part in passing the first prohibitory law under the prohibitory amendment to the state constitutions and in the fall election of 1884 ran for lieutenant-governor on the Prohibition ticket, as a protest against the stand taken by the Republican party toward the enforcement of the prohibitory amendment. In 1886 he was nominated for Congress by the Prohibition party of his district, again as a protest against the dilatory acts of the Republican party on prohibition. Since that time he has voted with the Republican party and still takes an active part in politics.
On Jan. 27, 1854, Colonel Houston married Miss Mary A. Johnston, the daughter of James and Nancy (Rankin) Johnston, both natives of Pennsylvania, the former born in Lancaster county and the latter in Franklin county. To Colonel and Mrs. Houston were born four children that grew to maturity: Grace M.; James J., now engaged in the hardware business at Guthrie, Okla.; Thomas W., now chaplain in the state penitentiary at Lansing, Kan.; and Victor G., associated in business with his brother, James J., at Guthrie, Okla. Colonel Houston and his wife are members of the United Presbyterian church, in which he has served as an elder for over fifty years. He is a member of Kilpatrick Post, No. 180, Grand Army of the Republic, at Garnett, was one of the organizers of the Grand Army of the Republic in Kansas, in 1872, and was the first delegate of the Kansas department to the National Encampment at Saratoga, N. Y., in 1872. Colonel Houston has now reached the advanced age of eighty-four years, and can look back upon a career full of years and honor, a career which for its activity and usefulness has set an unusually high standard for the future citizens of this state. He and his wife, in a beautiful and serene old age, are still residing in Garnett in the old home, which is endeared to them by nearly a half century of associations, and there they command the respect and esteem of all who know them.Pages 777-780 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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