Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Honoring the College and University Level Teachers in Our Family, Past and Present


Teachers teach all other professions

During the months of September and October, 2015, we’ve been honoring and recognizing the Educators in our Family Tree, past and present. I am presenting quite a few educators in today’s blog post. I am sure that there are many more whom I either have not identified, or did not know. Please feel free to comment and tell me about those I have missed so that I can either include them here with a correction or write an addendum.

It just so happens that I had the blessing in my life to teach children with behavioral and emotional issues in first  through sixth grade right out of college. After being at that level for three years, I moved to the Junior High level where I taught students aged 12-16, they would be classified middle and high schoolers today.  When we first moved to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1980, I had the opportunity to teach Interpersonal Communication at North Carolina State University for 3 years as a “Visiting Lecturer”. Most of you know, with my BA from Greensboro College and my MA in Clinical Psychology from Chapman College,  I went on to become an individual and family therapist for twenty years after that.  My point is to say, having taught at the different levels, and known so many teachers over the years, I can say that teaching is challenging at all levels! The challenges are different for sure, but the ultimate goal  is to educate, and every single level is needed to create success at the next level! We cannot skip any level of development and learning and expect to have a well-educated person! As the saying above aptly states, “Teaching is the profession that teaches all other professions!”  Nothing could be more true! Why then don’t we make the salary of our CEO’s!  I’d vote for that!  It’s past time the importance and value of our teachers be more highly recognized by our States and National Government budget makers!

We have amazing people in our family–I hope you will enjoy “meeting” these people  and knowing just a bit about what they do and where they teach, if you want to be in touch with any of them, let me know and I will ask them to get in touch. I am presenting them in alphabetical order by first name, we are family after all!

Carol E. Winters, 2013Carol E. Winters, PhD, RN, CNE (Doctorate, Registered Nurse, Certified Nursing Educator) my cousin through the Scottish Hogue family, is currently a Professor of Nursing at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC.  She is the Director of the MSN Nursing Education Concentration–she teaches Graduate level nurses to be Nursing Educators! Carol served as the Dean of the School of Nursing at Hawaii Pacific University in Hawaii for 16 years before returning home to North Carolina.  Carol has a BA in Christian Education from Greensboro College in Greensboro, NC, then an M.S. in Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She earned her PhD at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.  Not only has she these teaching , leadership accomplishments, but so much more! She is a published author, has been a hands-on nurse of obstetrics, and since 2009, has been a Faculty Advisor for the NFLA, Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy, a national organization sponsored by Sigma Theta Tau, the International Nursing Honor Society jointly with the Elsevier Foundation. There is so much more I could tell you about this dynamic woman who happened to be my college roommate and friend of almost 50 years! We only discovered our cousinship last year through my genealogical research!  She has three children, five grandchildren, and has done vast amounts of volunteer work in her communities, and served and led many committees.

 October 1, 2015,–Carol Emerson Winters was honored as the 2015 Nurse Educator of the Year by the NCNA, the North Carolina Nursing Association! CONGRATULATIONS! AN HONOR WELL DESERVED! congratulations in gold

My Hogue cousin, Dee Horn, has tutored College level     Dee Horn also   English at two  different colleges over the years. I have known many college level tutors. When I was at NC State University I quickly learned how invaluable they were to many students–like those who had learning disabilities, some who were blind, and  even some who were valuable sports team members who needed extra help to keep up with academics during their physically demanding playing and practice seasons. We take our hats off to one on one teachers! 

Donna Miller 3Another Hogue cousin  Donna Miller earned her degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and taught Business Education  at the High School level, in Business Schools, and at Community Colleges.  Life, marriage, and children took her from Pennsylvania to Connecticut and Rhode Island.  In Norwich, Connecticut, for 23 years, she taught at a business school and served as an Academic Dean!  After retirement, she worked  part-time at Three Rivers Community College.  

When I asked Donna about some memories, she  said several things which I wanted to share.  One was a simple teaching technique but fun: “I liked making the students think about what they were doing. Sometimes I would purposely make a spelling or grammatical error on a test and then tell the students that they would get extra points if they found it.” That’s the kind of thing that adds an extra challenge and a bit of fun for students!   She went on to say: “It’s the one profession where students have actually come back and said, ‘Thank you for believing in me,’ or ‘pushing me,’ or ‘making me realize that I can do . . . .’  When you are finished teaching, you know that despite some of the negatives (there were stressors), you feel that you have done something positive with your life.”  Oh yes! I know a lot of the educators we have profiled feel this way, and it is why we admire and love them so!  When a teacher’s philosophies so resonate with you, you know you’d love to have that teacher for yourself, or for your children, and you know with certainty that they are a GREAT teacher! 

My first cousin James Goodell, great-great grandson of Goodell, James McClainJ.Steptoe Langhorne, has taught computer sciences for many years at Menlo College in Atherton, California. He studied at the University of Freiburg located in Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.  He currently serves as President of the Goodell Corporation, a family real estate school and business his father founded.

Youngblood, LarryLarry Youngblood is one of our multi-leveled/multi-talented teachers as well! For years he has home schooled his grandchildren through all the levels of education!  Having studied at Texas A&M University Larry  has taught at Private Catholic Schools, Business Schools and Universities.  For several years now, Larry has been the Administrator of the International Youngblood DNA Project researching the  different family lines of Youngbloods evidenced by their dna.  He is currently writing a book about the Youngblood/Jungblut/Jungbloedt families. Thank you Larry! 

Pat Spangler, PhD, my second cousin, son of Charles Langhorne Spangler and Kittie Cockram Spangler, grandson of  Fanny Langhorne, and Great Grandson Spangler, Pat, PhD 2014of J.Steptoe Langhorne is a geophysicist in a family with three close cousins who are/were geophysicists! What honor he and they bring to our family!  You can read a previous blog post featuring them  at  Buck, Spangler and Houchins, Three Cousins Who are Geophysicists as Well!   Pat Spangler, PhD, is retired from the University of Florida, and thus his title is now Associate Professor Emeritus of Geology. Pat has published extensively and is highly respected in the academic community as well as in his family community.

Rick White, PhD, Donald Richard White, Professor, 3x gr grandson of James Steptoe LanghorneI am thrilled to introduce to many of you, our cousin Dr. Rick White, PhD, Chemist. Rick is the second great-grandchild of James Steptoe and Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro Langhorne, same as James Goodell, Roger Buck IV, PhD and I are. Pat Spangler above is their great-grandson. Rick is a Professor of Chemistry at St. John’s River State College in Jacksonville, Florida after a twenty plus year career in industry. He has also taught at Florida Southern College, and at the University of Tampa. He earned his PhD at the University of Florida and did post doctoral studies at King’s College in London. (At the time of his post doctoral work, the school was called Queen Elizabeth College, but Margaret Thatcher consolidated the colleges in the mid-1980’s and it became King’s) Rick has three sisters by the way, more cousins for us to enjoy. Another extremely accomplished professional, Rick has over 25 peer-reviewed publications, and over 200 internal company reports from his time with industry.

Rick worked for over twenty years for Procter and Gamble. Twelve of those years were spent in their Food and Beverage business before moving to their Health Care business where he worked for another ten years! He was an analytical chemist, supporting all aspects of product development, from inception to launch. Some of the products he worked with included brands you will recognize like Folger’s Coffee, Pringles Potato Chips, Citrus Hill Orange Juice, Pepto-Bismol, Metamucil, Crest Toothpaste, and Vick’s cough and cold remedies! Just think, from now on when you pick up one of those products, you will know that our DNA is part of the brain that helped develop them! We are very proud to be related to you Dr. Rick White!

Voorus House, Dorothy Pearl

Voorus Home in PA

Robert Voorus, 1891-1985, my cousin through the Spangler and Hogue families, had brothers and sisters  who were featured in the earlier educator posts. Robert worked in the Library of Congress as a young man. When he moved back to Pleasantville, Pennsylvania he taught at a Business School in Oil City, Pennsylvania. He is remembered by family as an excellent educator. 

Roger Buck,III was a master’s level Marine Biologist. He spent Buck, Walter Roger Buck, IIImost of his professional life researching for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, VA, which is now part of William and Mary College for their Oceanography Concentration.  Roger not only researched heavily, but he taught at William and Mary College and earlier at Duke University. With all of his major accomplishments, Roger, my Uncle by marriage to Katherine Langhorne Kerse, was a kind and genteel man who raised a son and a daughter who both earned their  PhD.  His son, W. Roger Buck IV,  became an educator and research scientist as well, while his daughter Tyler Buck is a financial analyst and advisor with her own company.

Roger Buck, IV,PhD, my first cousin through the Kerse, buck, Walter roger Buck IVHouchins, Langhorne families, is a Professor of Geophysics at Columbia University in New York. His speciality is earthquakes and he researches through Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York.  He has traveled the world lecturing and researching as he says, from “collecting rock samples for radiometric dating in Egypt, and in the Mojave Desert, to diving on the Reykjanes Mid-Ocean Ridge in a Russian submersible, and helping with GPS surveys on Iceland.” What amazing adventures this cousin has experienced!

I just want to make a couple observations regarding our families. The Langhornes were a wealthy family from England. But James Steptoe Langhorne became blind, several of his children, grandchildren and more, were blinded by the same inherited disease, his only natural son drowned at age 16, and after the Civil War, he was land poor and devastated!  Wouldn’t he be amazed and gratified that his grandchildren and greats would grow to be such good and educated people, and educators! He and his wife Elizabeth started a school and a Sunday School in Meadows of Dan, Virginia both of which were very important to them. We have carried on that philosophy–because it is imbedded in our DNA?  It is interesting!

The Hogues emigrated from Scotland, the Youngbloods from Germany, while the Voorhees originated in the Netherlands.  They fought in our Revolutionary War and our Civil War and many others. They were honorable people who supported their new country, but most of all, the Voorhees and  Hogues were Presbyterian Ministers and educators. It is amazing to me to see the traditions and/or the DNA at work in such a continuing fashion.

 What accomplishments for all of us to be proud of, and thankful for! Thank you our family members who educate all of us– for your inspiration, your wisdom, and your hard work! We honor all of you as you have honored us!

Teaching quote, wisest-mind-george-quote

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W. Thomas Houchins, An Ancestor Gone Wrong –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #34


MOD, lover's Leap

Patrick County, Virginia, photo by Helen Y. Holshouser

If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I’ve written about many incredibly talented individuals with brilliant minds, and great leadership  qualities. However, in every family, there are a few members you don’t hear about.  That’s a good description of my great Uncle Tom Houchins. As a child, I knew all my great aunts and uncles who were Houchins, my mother’s mother’s family, who were also the children of Evelyn Langhorne–from a wealthy and influential family in Virginia before the Civil War. At least I thought I knew them!  I was in my late teens before I realized that there was another Great Uncle I had never heard of! He lived in Florida while we lived in Virginia, so it was easy to keep him unknown to young kids growing up. What amazes me is that my Mom  was one of six sisters who were very close, and very family oriented. They kept up with their own Aunts and Uncles, and therefore we knew them and our cousins as well! How could it be, that I learned as an adult that we had this petty criminal , irresponsible playboy, and business success all wrapped up in one, in our own family! Kudos Mom, as a mom of the 1950’s, you did your job of “sheltering the children” well!  In recent years, of course, I’ve  talked with my cousins as adults, and we realize our mothers were all aware of our great Uncle Tom’s exploits, but none of them told us–talk about a code of silence (!) and he wasn’t an axe murder or anything! Want to know just what he did do?

Some of it is almost funny, some is sad, some terrible! Take your pick, because you are the only judge. Thomas,  was born William Thomas Houchins 14 June, 1890, in Patrick County,Virginia, a beautiful,  mountainous area of Southwest Virginia. On the 1900 Census we can see the whole family intact for the very last time. Little did they know when the census was taken in June of 1900, that by October, their loving mother, aged 34, would be dead, and their father would leave them for another woman and to start a new family!  Four more months of oblivious childhood–then the reality of a hard life, a different life would set in! They had lived at one time with their grandfather, James Steptoe Langhorne. But he was not well, was blind, and would die within three years as well, so what were these children to do?! You can see on the census, six living children out of nine, as their mother died birthing twins in Oct.1900. (see blog post re. Evelyn here)  Another sister,Virginia Myrtle had died at age 2, about six years earlier. Katie, their oldest child and daughter at age 16 was my grandmother. Was she panicked when her mother died and her father left? Grief stricken I’m sure!  Her sister Julia was 15, Harry was only 13, but would be blind with the family disease by 17. Then there is Wm.Thomas, our  subject of this blog, at the tender age of 9, days before his tenth birthday! His whole world was going to come crashing down around his head! There were two little boys, John and Guy, ages 4 and 3 respectively, did they even remember being a family?

Houchins and Langhorne, Eve, 1900 Census, all family

1900 Census : Souce, Ancestry.com

I knew three of them fairly well. My grandmother died before I was born unfortunately,  and Guy died when I was only five. (now I know all of their descendants, my siblings and cousins! )  Great Uncle John and his wife Aunt Josephine lived in Staunton, Virginia where she taught at the school for the deaf. I remember visiting them often as a child. Uncle John was always mannerly and kind to me. Great Uncle Harry was blind when I  knew him, but he would come see us and stay for days. He would sit out on our front porch and play his banjo and sing!  I would sit at his feet and beg him to play more! more, more! Great Aunt Julia lived in Richmond where we did and we saw her often. When her grandson Billy Pat, who was just my age came to visit, I would get so excited! We would swim, and play and just got along famously. Aunt Julia herself was a lawyer–the first female ast. district attorney in the state of Va. Sometimes she scared me to death! She could freeze you with one look! LOL I’m sure that served her well in the courtroom! In actuality, she was a sweet, kind woman who would do anything for family.  I never knew my Great Uncle Tom existed, until 1966 or 7, when I was a Junior or Senior in highschool. That summer my parents went to visit him and took my younger brother with them! My brother would have been about 12 probably. While I was shocked to learn I had another great uncle alive and successful in Florida, I paid little attention. You see, this was the first time I was allowed to stay home alone with my older brother and sister while our parents were gone away for a week! A week! We had a ball, and thought little of whom they were visiting , I’m sorry to say! I now know my uncle was dying. I suspect Mom knew, and wanted to visit him one last time!  So sad to have been an oblivious teenager! He died in 1968, with no children, but an interesting life.

Thomas was 10 when his mother died. A wealthy close cousin,, Lady Astor, Nancy Langhorne, swoooped in and sent him to military school to continue his growing up! You’d think that would do it! On the 1910 census, taken on April 16, we can see that he is enrolled in the army and is stationed at Fort Myer Military Reservation in Alexandria, Virginia. He is listed as 23 and single on the census.  Did he lie, or is that a typo? We know that  in April of  1910, he would have been only 19, turning twenty that June! We are also told by family members that he had married one Martina Ruth Bowie on January 11, 1910, when they were both 19 years old!  Then we find the US Army Register of Enlistments where we find that Thomas was dishonorably discharged on October 26, 1911. Oh my gracious!

The only way to fill the years in between 1910 and 1930 when our couple is found in Chicago, is to listen to family stories. Thomas’s niece, the famous Mary Stuart of TV fame, wrote about him in her memoirs, Both of Me. She says he was known to have “shot a revenuer”  in the mountains of Virginia and that he joined the army to escape punishment! He would have been a teenager, home from military school, where would he have been living? So, he joins the army and we find him there in 1910. He also gets married that year. We are told in the family, that he deserts the army and heads off to who knows where, but wait, his wife is not with him. Apparently he is going to meet her, when he gets drunk, and marries another woman, becoming a bigamist! All before he is 20! This kid is in trouble–shooting, desertion from the army, now bigamy!

But he has an ace up his sleeve! He has a loving sister who is an attorney! And sure enough, his sister, only 5 years older, but married and living in Richmond, Va. by then, a ripe old age of 25, comes to his rescue! My Great Aunt Julia  helps him annul his bigamist marriage, she works with the army to get him his dishonorable discharge with no prison time,  and it seems there were no charges pending from the rumor that he “shot a revenuer”!  My suspicion is that this older and wiser sister of his also gave him her famous glare, and told him to grow up and fly right–did he?

The next census I can find, 1930,  shows my great Uncle Thomas living in Chicago, with his wife Lillian–in fact, they are listed as Thomas and Lilian Anglin, not W.Thomas Houchins and Martina Bowie, his wife! Wow! I would never have found them of course, except for family stories, not given by any of the sisters, but pieced together through the cousins when we were all over 50 and our mothers were gone! They took these secrets to their graves!

I learned that indeed, they changed their names, legally or not I do not know, but I doubt it..and there is more to the story! What name did he choose? Thomas Smith, or Jones, oh no — Anglin–Thomas Anglin–how sad! Thomas Anglin was his first cousin who lived in Oklahoma! The real Thomas Anglin was a State Senator there in fact–another of the good guys! The real Thomas Anglin  was the son of Pocahontas Houchins and her husband John B. Anglin, also from Patrick County, Virginia, who had moved to Oklahoma. I wonder if he knew? I wonder if our Aunt Pokey knew when  she died in 1927! Wouldn’t she have been furious at her nephew, her brother’s son, a criminal –that he would dare to take her famous son’s name! Can you imagine the family feuds that might have erupted! No Thanksgiving Dinner family gatherings for them! Apparently, it never happened!  Our Thomas Anglin and wife Lilian  lived peacefully and prosperously it appears! By the 1940 census, we find him and Lilian living in Dade County Florida, in Coral Gables! This is where my Mom, Dad, and brother visited him in the late 1960’s! They had a business school there that they owned, and apparently it was very successful! “Buyer Beware” rings in my ears! Of course,  we didn’t have computers  in the  years when he was alive. I understand that their school had a great reputation! He and Lilian never had children. I wonder , did they feel guilty; live in fear of being discovered?  It’s hard to believe–in the midst of attorneys, State Senators (in Virginia as well), actual revenue agents hunting moonshine stills, educators, and so on, how do you get one like this?  You could say he was  scared by his mother’s death and his father’s desertion at his age 10, that he was hurt severely, and perhaps so. It may be that something happened in military school to a young boy of 10–18–that’s a tough way to grow up! However, his brothers and sisters did just fine it seems. We will never know, but wow–what a discovery of a sad and eccentric member of our family! What a journey he had.

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Langhorne Reunion, Meadows of Dan, Virginia, 2014 -a Celebration of Family!



Descendants of Early Settlers of the Meadows of Dan, Virginia,  Reunion


The first weekend in August, 2014, descendants of James Steptoe Langhorne (pronounced Lang’n) and his wife Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro Langhorne gathered for their very first reunion. They came to Meadows of Dan to see the old home place, the Langhorne Mill, Langhorne School, and church founded by their 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and yes even 4th great grandparents!  While some of the  50 reunioners actually live here in Patrick County and showed the others around, the large majority of the family attending were from all over the United States including California, Oklahoma, Florida, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and of course other areas of Virginia! They filled the Woodberry Inn, visited local sites like Mabry’s Mill, Floyd’s Country Store, and the Chateau Morrisette Winery, aa well as toured the Cockram Mills Complex with Gary and Ron Cockram along with having brunch at the lovely Crooked Road Café. They shopped their cousins’ and other’s businesses like the Greenberry House, Poor Farmer’s Market, and the candy factory. Above it all, they took in the scenery of beautiful Patrick County and the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Saturday morning, the group took a tour of areas of special interest to the descendants. Thanks to permission from local land owners, and the leadership of family members Harvie and Pat Spangler, brothers, and cousin Beverly Belcher Woody who wrote up a tour guide for the family, family members got to see where the Langhornes had settled back in the 1840’s, taking over the massive 13,000 acre plantation named Langdale– inherited through their own father and grandfathers, originally part of a land grant. Grandpa Steptoe as he was called in the family, first saw the area when he was a teenager and reported it as one of the most beautiful places on earth. Because the area had some of the few flat plateaus in the geographic area on the Dan River, with beautiful meadows, James Steptoe Langhorne named the area the Meadows of Dan, according to many published articles.


Steptoe went completely blind, and never actually saw his beloved home site again. Nevertheless, he married, settled here, and owned slaves who worked the agricultural part of his plantation. He established a grist mill, a school, and he and his wife and his brother William Langhorne who never married, gave land and built a log church where the current Meadows of Dan Baptist Church is located. Steptoe, his wife, his brother William, and at least three of his nine children and a couple of his grandchildren are buried at that church. Some members of the family attended services at the church Sunday morning while here for the reunion.

The family was so excited, so happy to walk where their grandparents had walked, worshiped, and worked almost 175 years ago! When we ate our last meal together at The Crooked Road Café that Sunday, we were acutely aware that we were sitting on the Dan River where our grandparents’ plantation was located so long ago! We were having coffee where they might have had coffee themselves, how amazing!

The Langhorne family is known for our most famous ancestors, and first cousins to the Patrick County Langhornes:  Lady Astor, Nancy Langhorne from Danville originally, who became the first American woman to sit in England’s Parliament!  At one time, she was the wealthiest woman in the world; and her sisters became the famous Gibson Girls.

Steptoe lost most of his money after the Civil War, as did most Southerners. However, his children and grandchildren went on to do incredible things. Steptoe Langhorne’s nine children included:

1.Henry Ellis Langhorne, 1849-1865, who drowned in the mill pond at age 16.

2.Charles Putney Langhorne, a twin b. 1852 who died at birth but whose sister

  1. Viriginia Alice, twin of Charles, grew to marry Charles M. Cassell of Virginia Tech fame.
  2. Frances, Fannie married Wallace Wolford Spangler and had six children who became quite famous in their own right. There have been many interviews written of her son, the famous State Legislator Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler, and the musicians including son John Watts “Babe” who became the famous “Old Virginia Fiddler” on the radio in Richmond, Virginia. Her daughter Mary Josephine married a cousin Dudley “Babe” Spangler who was also a renowned fiddler and recording artist of the area. At the reunion, we were pleased to have Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler’s sons Harvie and Pat Spangler with us, as well as his granddaughter Betty Smith, daughter of Tump’s son Thomas, who told us some family stories. Dudley and Mary Josephine’s three children, William Wallace Spangler, Bernice Spangler Irvin, and Margie Spangler Cartwright were with us as well. We also had grandchildren of Lila Ann Spangler present. The Spanglers played music, directed our tours, recited original poetry of their own and their Mom’s, and enriched our experience beyond compare!
  3. Sarah Elizabeth Langhorne died at age eleven, 1857-1868.
  4. Mary Omohundro Langhorne, 1860-1952 married William Caldwell Shelor first, and Charles Davis DeHart second. She had nine children like her parents.
  5. Nancy Armistead Langhorne, 1863-1917 married William Pinkney Howell and they had seven children.
  6. Evaline, Evalyna, or Evelyn Langhorne married Walter Thomas Houchins and had seven children. She is this author’s great-great- grandmother and the reason this particular reunion was organized. Having started researching my family tree, I studied the Langhorne family whom I had heard of my whole life, but few of whom I had ever met. My mother knew them well it seemed, but our family never took the chance to visit the Meadows of Dan. My father was in WWII, his parents lived with us, there were four children, life was busy! Suddenly, I am in my sixties and through my research I meet the Spanglers! Last year I attended their biannual reunion, and went home buzzing with the desire to introduce the rest of my mother’s family (she was one of seven herself) to the Spanglers. Not being well myself, I decided to organize a reunion of the groups I knew, the descendants of the sisters: Fannie Langhorne Spangler and Evelyn Langhorne Houchins! The rest is now history, but we hope to expand to include descendants of all nine Langhorne children in the future.
  7. Ernest Lindsey “Jack” Langhorne, 1879-1953, was actually Steptoe’s grandson, but was adopted by him for various reasons. He married Mary Susan Blackard and they had fourteen children! One of his great- grandsons, James Callaway Langhorne has distinguished the family by writing a book that was published this year titled The Virginia Langhornes. It is a book full of history, pictures, and genealogy! His research has proven along with some others, that the Langhornes were not from Wales afterall, but originated in England, with our first ancestors reaching Virginia in the mid 1600’s, John and Rebecca Carter Langhorne. He was planning to join us and speak with us at the reunion, but a bad bout of strep throat sadly prevented his attendance.

Because the famous Langhorne/Astors, and in Patrick County the Spanglers are the family so well known, I’d like to tell you a bit about  Evelyn Langhorne Houchins’ descendants. Her six living children were born and raised in Patrick County, Virginia. Unfortunately, upon the early death of their mother in 1900, they were scattered with relatives or in boarding schools across the state. Only three of the six had children.

One of her daughters, Julia Elizabeth Houchins Nichols became an attorney and the first assistant District Attorney in the state of Virginia. She had a grandson, great-granddaughter, and great-great-grandson at the reunion! Her grandsons are also talented musicians as well as the greats! In the family are gifted and courageous firefighters and emergency personnel who can save your life!


One son of Evelyn’s, Guy Maurice Houchins, had two children, both of whom moved to Oklahoma, with Guy Jr. becoming a Geophysical Engineer with an attorney daughter Sarah Stuhr who was present with us at the reunion! Guy’s other child, a daughter, became the famous actress, Mary Stuart Houchins (went by Mary Stuart) who played the character “Jo” or JoAnn Tate on the Soap Opera “Search for Tomorrow” which ran on CBS for 35 years!


Another daughter, my grandmother kate, Katherine Steptoe Houchins Kerse (pronounced Kearse) became a nurse and raised seven children in Richmond, Virginia with her police officer husband Thomas P. Kerse. All seven of those children are now deceased, but nine of her grandchildren from all over the country attended with greats and four great-great-grandchildren present at the reunion!  She would be so proud! They included  Roger Buck, PhD geophysicist college professor at Columbia (Pat Spangler, grandson of Fannie Langhorne is a PhD Geophysicist Professor Emeritus from the University of Florida, and remember the Geophysicist Engineer son of Guy Houchins, grandson of Evelyn Langhorne.) Three geophysicists in one family, that’s amazing to me!

There are lawyers, landscapers, computer specialists, other teachers and college professors, financial planners and several tax advisors. Contractors, musicians, realtors, and generally good people abound. I believe I counted at least six PhD’s among the Spanglers and the Houchins present from these branches of the Langhorne family!  I was a family therapist by profession-every family needs one! Actually, three of us in this branch of the family taught/now teach children with emotional/behavioral disorders. There were several other teachers, and two special education supervisors in these branches. Just in case you’re wondering, just like our country, we are split politically. That might lead to lively “discussions”, but the music in our souls unites us and reminds us of our love of family.

We are thankful to our homeland of Patrick County for hosting us, to the many proprietors who were especially hospitable to us like Shep and Angie Nance and Melissa Turman at the Woodberry Inn & Restaurant and many others.

If you are interested in more pictures and stories of this family, you can find them on Helen Holshouser’s blog at heart2heartstories.com.





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Walter Thomas Houchins, 1854-1937, the Mystery of His Father– 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks, #22


Patrrick Co Va

Patrrick Co, Va

Walter Thomas Houchins, called Thomas, was my great-grandfather. In 1881, when he was 26 years old, he married my great-grandmother Evaline Langhorne who was 15 years old. Together they had nine children in 19 years. Evaline died having twins in 1900. Within one year Thomas, then 47 years old, married another 15-year-old girl and had two more children.

Here is the mystery: in tracing my family tree it did not take long until I was ready to add my great- great- grandparents, the parents of Walter Thomas Houchins. I knew all of my great aunts and uncles well, so it was surprising when I realized that we did not know their grandfather. By the time I was working on my family tree, I was in my 60s, and all of my great aunts and uncles were deceased. I realized I had never taken the opportunity to question them about their own family tree. Even my mother’s generation was gone. I could not believe that this information was missing in the family

I worked very hard in my research trying to find the correct identity of the father of Walter Thomas and his siblings. I checked all the censuses, birth and death records that I could find, other family trees, community records, land deeds, wills, all to no avail. Then someone told me about the Patrick County Virginia Genealogical Society. They had an officer named David Shelay who wrote a column in the local newspaper, The Enterprise. I wrote an inquiry about the parentage of Walter Thomas Houchins and David Shelay published it in the paper in Stuart, Virginia. In fact this was the beginning of my meeting 100 new cousins in Southwest Virginia! With all the joy that has brought, we were not able to answer the question of who is the father of Walter Thomas Houchins.

However, now we can take an educated guess, that is probably correct. It is up to each individual to decide whether or not they want to include this information as a fact or not. I have consulted a professional genealogist and experienced family researchers about this.
When Walter Thomas Houchins married my great-grandmother Evaline Langhorne in 1881, their marriage certificate listed his parents as Isaac and Nancy Houchins. We have identified that couple and have eliminated them as the parents of Walter Thomas and his siblings.

Starting with the 1860 census, you can see six-year-old Thomas living with his single mother, Nancy J. Houchins. If you trace her back to her 1850 census you find Nancy J. Houchins living with her parents William and Joyce Harbour Houchins. This lets us know that Nancy was a single mother. According to the 1860,1870, and 1880 censuses, she goes on to have seven children out-of-wedlock! In the 1800’s, in Patrick County, Virginia, between 1854 and 1872–my great, great-grandmother did this! It is hard to believe! According to the censuses she worked as a mail carrier as well.  

The plot thickens when we move to the 1870 census, when Thomas is 16 years old. He is not living at home that year, but lo and behold he is living on a farm right next door—a farm belonging to the Stoops family. You would think that he is probably just working there, until you realize several things. One, William W. Stoops, a son, single, age 35, who fought in the Civil War, is listed as a mail contractor. Nancy is a mail carrier, so perhaps they worked together as well as were neighbors. Finally, the piece de resistance—William W. Stoops and our own Nancy J. Houchins marry in 1880! Is he finally making an “honest woman of her”? Lots of questions! Is William Stoops my second great-grandfather? I would love to know! And actually, it appears that he might well be—for another big reason—I had my autosomal dna done by ancestry.com. It says I match  the Stoops surname, and sure enough, I match to trees with his family line in them! I can find no other reason I would match the Stoops unless indeed, he is Walter Thomas Houchins’ father, and therefore my second great-grandfather! Even so, I do not have him listed in my family tree as my second great-grandfather, I don’t know if I’m ready to think I have “proved” this or not. If anyone out there reads this and knows something else, please let me know.    


Virginia Marriages, 1851-1929

Name: William W. Stoops
Spouse’s Name: Nancy J. Houchins
Marriage Date: 14 Sep 1880
Marriage Place: Patrick County
Age: 55
Birthplace: Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Father: John Stoops
Spouse’s Age: 46
Spouse’s Birthplace: Patrick County, Virginia
Spouse’s Father: William Houchins
Spouse’s Mother: J. Houchins
Marriage Performed By: S. D. Williams, Min:
Comment: William W., Farmer
Original Source Page: 104

Think about it though—growing up in rural, Patrick County, Virginia in the 1800’s, a single mother of seven children! Seems like you’d be well-known, the mail carrier, and not particularly well-respected for your many children out of wedlock! However, look who her children married. Thomas married Evaline Langhorne, daughter of James Steptoe Langhorne and Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro, two wealthy and powerful families! Nancy’s second child, Pocahontas, b. 1856, married John Anglin, the son of a well-respected family. Their son became a congressman in Oklahoma. Nancy J’s son James B., born 1864, married Nancy Howell, born 1867. Nancy was the daughter of Isaac Columbus Howell and Mary Anne Howell of Patrick County. It is hard for me to believe that if Nancy J. Houchins was a single mother of seven children that these particular families would have let their children marry her children. She must have been well-known, well liked, and respected in spite of the fact that she was a single mother. Maybe there was some reason they couldn’t marry, and that was known and accepted somehow.

The mysteries and clues abound. The fact that he was a next-door neighbor, the fact that they worked together, the fact that my great-grandfather lived with William Stoops at one time, and the fact that my DNA matches the Stoops family certainly leads me to believe that William W Stoops is the father of my great-grandfather William Thomas Houchins. Thank heavens I feel confident in the identity of Nancy, his mother. Therefore we can trace our Houchins line all the way back to England

With all this turmoil, what kind of man did Thomas become and what happened to his children? Perhaps it was because he had no father of his own living with him during his early years, or perhaps because he knew his father lived next-door, but not with him and his family, that Thomas seemingly so easily deserted his own six living children when their mother died, married again quickly and started a new family. This was a sad time in my immediate family’s history. However, they rebounded from this and other tragedies and created intelligent, creative and kind people for our world.

Of Thomas and Evaline’s nine children, three died in early childhood. One grew up and committed several petty crimes.(another story sometime) However, five of their six children grew up to make their family proud. Two daughters, both born in the 1800s, became professional women, very unusual for women of this time period, the late 1880’s. Julia became a lawyer, in fact,the first female assistant district attorney in Virginia. Her sister Katherine (Kate) became a nurse. They both had children. The youngest son, Guy Maurice Houchins, fathered two children, one of whom became a famous actress, and one became a geophysicist with an oil company. Their son John married a woman named Josie and they dedicated their lives to serving deaf students in Staunton, Virginia. Harry born in 1887, was blind with the family disease of retinitis pigmentosa by the time he was a teenager. Even so, he was a talented musician with an active, intelligent mind. Harry nor John or Tom had children. When their mother died in 1900 the six children were scattered among friends, relatives, and military schools. With all this upheaval, they found a way to be close as adults. As a great-grandchild with close family members, I am very grateful for this and proud to be a member of this family with all of its complexities.

Houchins, Guy maurice, Jr

Guy M. Houchins Jr. , Geophysicist

Kate Steptoe Houchins Kearse, w out border        Houchins, Mary Stuart's book

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