Heart of a Southern Woman

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

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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.

This gallery contains 2 photos


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John Langhorne Arrived in the Royal Colony of Virginia about 1666 and his Descendants Reunion Next Week! –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #29

The Langhorne family reunion is coming up in a week and a half, August 1-3, 2014,  and I am so excited!  As far as I know, this is the first reunion this branch of the family has ever had. Parts of this group reunion regularly, but not as Langhornes! The Spangler branch of this family has a reunion every other year! The descendants of Evelyn Langhorne, my great-grandmother, are relatively small in number, 52, I think I counted recently! We were close as children, but as the older generation died, and as we moved to many different states in the US, we don’t see each other as often as we’d like! Due to my genealogical research, and to the miracles of facebook, I began to renew friendships with my immediate cousins, and  to get to know some of my Spangler cousins, and attended their reunion in 2013!  I fell in love with their wonderful family, my cousins,  and with Patrick County, Virginia’s breathtaking beauty in the mountainous area of southwest Virginia.  This is where our great- great- grandfather, James Steptoe had a 13,000 acre plantation! This is the same family as Lady Nancy Langhorne Astor, and the Gibson Girls, and many other people I have been writing about in my blog. They are a large family whose first immigrant, John Langhorne, came to  Virginia about 1666.  That is a lot of history! 348 years! Many families were huge as was the tradition. When some of us decided to organize a reunion, we quickly realized we did not have time to do the research and organization to find all the Langhornes. So, I got together with the Spanglers, and we decided to try uniting our two branches, the descendants of Fannie Langhorne Spangler  and Evelyn Langhorne Houchins, sisters and daughters of James Steptoe Langhorne and Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro! I volunteered to head up the organizing effort, because I wanted it to happen so strongly!  Even though we emphasized our two branches of the family, we were open to any Langhorne relation joining us! 

As part of this challenge to write about 52 ancestors in 52 weeks, I have chosen to highlight the Langhorne family to encourage people to attend the reunion and drum up interest! But of course, I have ended up learning so much! I even met another cousin , a descendant of a different child of James Steptoe Langhorne, the author of the new book The Virginia Langhornes, by James C. Langhorne. We have actually only met online, and will meet in person at the reunion where he will meet all of us as well as speak to us about his book. How I am looking forward to that! I am already planning to interview some family members while there, (look out!) , so that I can blog about them later! 

John Langhorne, arrived in Virginia by 1670 with his wife Rebecca Carter. Wow, here it is, 344 years later, and the history between us is staggering! John and Rebecca settled on a plantation on the James River and became members of the landed gentry very quickly.  Besides my cousin james C. Langhorne’s book, one of the foremost historians writing about John Langhorne has been Thomas Litten.  He states that John was born in 1640 and came to Warwick County, Va. in 1666. dying in 1687.  Just think, he lived only 47 years.  When I realize what he accomplished in 47 years, it amazes me!  Thomas Litten tells us in “The Langhornes–A First Family of Virginia”         

 

“Due to the destruction of a large number of Warwick County records during the Civil War, all that is known of Captain John Langhorne, is that he was a powerful and influential man. Upon his arrival in Virginia, John Langhorne purchased 1,300 acres from William Whitby, Jr. who was a Burgess for Warwick County. To this he later added 700 acres, which was acquired by a royal grant through the importation of indentured servants. As the most densely populated, and hence the most civilized and desirable county in Virginia, Warwick was an excellent location for John Langhorne to build his fortune. His 2,000-acre plantation was one of the largest in the lower Tidewater region. Among the larger planters of his day, John Langhorne traded his tobacco directly with the mother country for a hefty profit. He also handled shipments for the smaller planters who could not afford direct trade with England.

By the mid 1670’s John Langhorne had been appointed with Col. William Byrd I and Maj. Robert Beverley to fortify the three main rivers of Virginia. The coveted assignment proved to be very lucrative, and over the next several years, the House of Burgesses recorded many payments to John Langhorne, the largest of which amounted to 90,000 pounds of tobacco. At a time when most of the modest Virginia farmers made their living off of little more than 1,000 pounds of tobacco annually, this was an incredible sum. John Langhorne, William Byrd, and Robert Beverley were not soldiers themselves, rather they were assigned to oversee the construction and operation of the essential forts. On the heels of his success with the York River Fort, John Langhorne was elected to the House of Burgesses in 1680, thus establishing a tradition of political service that would characterize his prominent descendents.

Capt. John Langhorne died around 1687, leaving his large estate in the capable care of his wife and his good friend Col. Miles Cary II of neighboring Richneck plantation, until his eldest son John Langhorne, Jr. (1666-1688) came of age. John Jr. along with the youngest son William Langhorne died early, leaving Maurice Langhorne to inherit the entire estate.

As the sole heir of John Langhorne, Maurice Langhorne (1670-1698) inherited a huge estate. Around 1690 he married Anne Cary of “The Forest”. Anne Cary was the daughter of Capt. Henry Cary, a planter who was well-known as the master builder of Williamsburg. The marriage of Maurice Langhorne to Anne Cary was a good one, for the Carys were one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the Virginia Colony. In 1695, Maurice and Anne Langhorne had their only child, whom they named John Langhorne. Within three short years Maurice Langhorne died, and young John was sent to “The Forest” to be raised by his maternal grandparents Henry and Judith Cary. Anne Cary Langhorne soon remarried, a member of another prominent Tidewater family, Benjamin Harrison III of Charles City County. Until John Langhorne III (1695-1767) reached his majority, the Harrison family operated Gambell plantation. For the next twenty years, John Langhorne would spend his days in the polite atmosphere of the Cary plantation.

When in his early twenties however, John Langhorne III had become anxious for his own personal success. Thus in 1719, he took over Gambell and married Mary Beverley of Middlesex County. Mary Beverley was a granddaughter of Capt. John Langhorne’s old friend and contemporary Maj. Robert Beverley. Throughout his long career, Hon. John Langhorne served as a Justice of the Peace, a member of the House of Burgesses, Sheriff of Warwick County, and Presiding Justice of Warwick County from 1749-1762. In addition to his numerous political duties, John Langhorne III continued to expand his land holdings by purchasing new plantations in Chesterfield County, and was also a highly successful merchant, continuing the tradition laid out by his fortune-founding grandfather some fifty years before. John Langhorne and Mary Beverley had three children who left issue. Their only daughter Lockey (named after Judith Lockey, the wife of Capt. Henry Cary and mother of Anne Cary) was successfully courted by Thomas Tabb. Lockey’s considerable dowry helped to establish the Tabb family as members of the Tidewater elite. The elder son, Maj. Maurice Langhorne II (1719-1790) removed to Cumberland County to live near his cousin Col. Archibald Cary of “Ampthill” and his lovely wife, the former Mary Randolph of “Curles”. This Maurice Langhorne bought thousands of acres in Cumberland and established himself as a great success in his own right.

The younger son, Maj. William Langhorne (1721-1797) held possession of the Warwick County estates and became the most prominent of the three. He married Elizabeth Cary Scarsbrook, a cousin of George Washington and Thomas Nelson, and daughter of the wealthy Yorktown merchant Col. Henry Scarsbrook. Henry Scarsbrook was the great-grandson of Capt. Nicholas Martiau, the man whose plantation was later turned into Yorktown. Like his father, William Langhorne served as a Sheriff, Justice of the Peace, and as a Burgess. He was also a magistrate for forty years. During the Revolutionary War, William Langhorne served as aide-de-camp to the Marquis de Lafayette, was a member of the Committee of Safety, and was the only representative of Warwick County for the first four out of five Revolutionary Conventions. His service has been commemorated on a memorial in Williamsburg. Of his nine children, two sons were the most prominent. Maj. John Scarsbrook Langhorne (1760-1797) married the daughter of his Uncle Maj. Maurice Langhorne of Cumberland, thus reuniting two lines of family inheritance. Marrying of cousins, a common practice among the wealthy families of Virginia and other colonies likewise, helped to keep money in the family. John Scarsbrook Langhorne’s younger brother, another Maurice Langhorne (1769-1818) married Martha Holladay of “Indian Fields”, and their grandson Maurice Finney Langhorne married Lillian Isabelle Blair Polk, a close relative of President James K. Polk.

Due to the untimely drowning of their father in the James River in 1797, the three sons of Maj. John Scarsbrook Langhorne received equal portions of both their father and their grandfather’s estates. An interesting event occurred at this time. Peter Carr, a favorite nephew of Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to George Washington under the name of his kinsman John Langhorne. The letter was intended to “elicit political sentiments useful to the republican cause in Virginia.” However, when it was discovered that John Langhorne had recently died and that the true author of the letter was Peter Carr, George Washington became very suspicious of Thomas Jefferson, as he had assumed that Peter Carr had written the letter under the instructions of Thomas Jefferson. The infamous “Langhorne Letter” was published in 1803.

The eldest of the three brothers and heirs of John Scarsbrook Langhorne’s estate was William Langhorne (1783-1858) who moved to Bedford County, where he wed Catherine Callaway, the daughter of the extremely rich planter and iron manufacturer Col. James Callaway of “Royal Forest”, whose third wife was Mary Langhorne of Cumberland. William Langhorne was, like his father-in-law, a planter and iron manufacturer, who was said to be the most courtly gentleman of his day.

The second brother Maurice Langhorne (1787-1865) moved to Lynchburg, where his inherited wealth was fantastically increased by his successful forays in the Lynchburg tobacco market. Before he died, Maurice Langhorne built for his children the famous “Langhorne’s Row,” a set of four extravagant Greek Revival Lynchburg townhouses, whose architectural sophistication was unmatched anywhere in Virginia with the sole exception of Richmond.

The youngest brother Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne (1790-1854) would surpass them all. Although he was first seated on some of the Cumberland County lands that he had inherited through his mother, he quickly resolved to move to Lynchburg with his brother Maurice. In 1816 Henry S. Langhorne married Frances Callaway Steptoe, the highly sought after daughter of Hon. James Steptoe and Frances Callaway of “Federal Hill”. Here begins a series of interesting family connections that beautifully illustrate the “web of kinship” that existed between Virginia’s ruling families. Frances Callaway was an older sister of Catherine Callaway, wife of Henry Langhorne’s brother William. Hon. James Steptoe was the eldest son of Westmoreland County planter Col. James Steptoe of “Nominy Hall” and his second wife Elizabeth Eskridge of “Sandy Point” (a daughter of Col. George Eskridge, the guardian of Mary Ball Washington). Hon. James Steptoe had two sisters, Elizabeth Steptoe who married Col. Philip Ludwell Lee of “Stratford”, and Anne Steptoe who married Samuel Washington and became the mother of George Steptoe Washington who in turn married Lucy Payne, the sister of First Lady Dolly Payne Madison. Hon. James Steptoe also had two half sisters who were his mother’s daughters by her first husband William Aylett. The first sister, Mary Aylett, married Thomas Ludwell Lee, and the second, Anne Aylett, became the first wife of Richard Henry Lee of “Chantilly”.

The powerful connections of the Steptoe and Callaway families ensured that the Langhornes, although newcomers from the Tidewater, were met with constant success in the Virginia Piedmont. As the planting of tobacco was no longer as profitable as it had once been, Henry S. Langhorne erected in Lynchburg, the second largest milling firm in Virginia. He never abandoned planting though, and continued to buy numerous plantations in Bedford, Campbell and Amherst Counties. In 1845, he retired and relocated to “Cloverdale”, the 3,500-acre Botetourt County plantation he had just purchased from his niece’s husband George Plater Tayloe of “Buena Vista”. His eldest son John Scarsbrook Langhorne (born 1819) married Sarah Elizabeth Dabney of “Edgemont”, a great-granddaughter of William Randolph II of “Chatesworth”. He inherited Langhorne Mills, along with the bulk of his father’s estate. The second son James Steptoe Langhorne (1822-1905) was given an ample number of slaves and the 13,000-acre “Langdale” plantation located near the border of North Carolina.”

This brings us up to the children of James Steptoe Langhorne some of whose descendants will be visiting the remains of his Langdale Plantation in just over a week’s time! Wow! Living history! Our newest author of Langhorne history, James C. Langhorne has done research that found some differing information from Thomas Litten’s work. Progress and change are to be expected as new discoveries are made. As I learn more, you will hear about it! Expect lots of pictures from my own camera! 


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The Spangler Old time Fiddler Musicians, Babe, Tump, and Dudley

John Watts, “Babe” Spangler was perhaps the most famous of these old time fiddlers. He was regularly featured as “The Old Virginia Fiddler” on WRVA radio and television in Richmond, Virginia in the late 1920’s until he died in 1970. Back in those days, their music wasn’t called bluegrass, but ” old-time” or mountain music,  even “Spanglin!” Today I believe it would fit into the category of bluegrass, and those of you who enjoy bluegrass like I do will probably recognize this marvelous sound! Babe was an outstanding musician, even after losing his sight to a genetic disease, perhaps retinitis pigmentosa, which also stole the sight of his mother, his maternal grandfather, James Steptoe Langhorne, and several others in the family.  

53 Jaybop writes on You Tube September 29, 2010, 

“Babe Spangler was born on November 15, 1882 in Patrick County, Virginia. His father was a widely known fiddle player in the region. Babe moved to Richmond in 1906 and worked as a guard at the state penitentiary until 1920. It was around this time that Babe began to suffer from congenital glaucoma; he then ran a grocery store, and eventually got into the lumber business. He became more and more involved with his music, and by 1926 or ’27, he was known as “The Old Virginia Fiddler” on the Corn Cob Pipe Show on Richmond’s WRVA. His music reached much of the Eastern U.S. In 1927 he won the Virginia Fiddlers Contest. In 1929 Babe Spangler and Dave Pearson, who accompanied him on guitar on his radio broadcast, recorded 4 songs at the Richmond Sessions. Two of the songs were un-released. Spangler died in 1970 Note: Babe Spangler recorded some tunes at WPAQ,Mt Airy.NC in the 1940’s, which were later issued on County Records.”

Wallace Wolford Spangler, 1851- 1926,  and his wife Frances (Fannie) Eunice Langhorne had six children together. Wallace had one child by his former marriage to Catherine Ellen Spangler, a son named Harry Hannibel Spangler.  Wallace and Fannie’s children were:

Wallace Wolford Spangler was an accomplished musician himself, well-known, well respected and admired.   He had his own special style some called “Spangling” instead of “fiddling!”  Apparently he passed on this musical talent to many in his family, but his son John Watts, called “Babe”, and his son Charles Langhorne, called “Tump” were very accomplished. Their sister Mary Josephine married her second cousin Dudley Spangler who was also a musician!

Charles Langhorne Spangler, “Tump”  loved to play with his brother Babe.  In an interview with Nancy Lindsey in  The Enterprise, the local newspaper of Stuart, Virginia, published June 19, 1974, Tump is quoted as recalling once when he and Babe were playing on WRVA radio, after it had increased its wattage to 50,000- reaching the whole country, when this Virginia legislator burst “into an impromtu rendition of a song he once played , “Black cat, yeller cat, riding on a rail, Black Cat stepped on the yeller cat’s tail…” They  had so much fun together! (Thanks to Dr. Pat Spangler, Ph.D, Tump’s son, for sharing that newspaper article with this author! )

DSCF7252

Fiddling is just oneof many accomplishments of the Hon. Charles Langhorne Spangler, “Tump” of Meadows of Dan, Patrick County, Virginia. One of Patrick’s most distinguished state legislators, he won fiddlers conventions back in his younger days. The Enterprise, newspaper of Stuart, Virginia, June 19, 1974.

 Dudley Spangler was Tump and Babe’s second cousin as their grandfathers were brothers. This is the way it goes: John Spangler b. 1783 married Susan Susannah Hudnall, b.1788, Fauquier, Virginia, and they had six children including  Richard, b.1813, and his brother Thomas born 1819. Richard married Lucretia Laura Scott and had son  Wallace Wolford Spangler who married Fannie Langhorne then had Babe and Tump as told above. Thomas and his wife Mary Rose, had son George who married Sisley and had Dudley!

Spangler, Dudley with fiddle

Photo of Dudley Spangler from Images of America, Music Makers of the Blue Ridge Plateau, by the Music Makers Guild, p.113.  –another gift from Tump’s son, Dr. Pat Spangler, PhD. 

As you know from earlier posts, this author’s great great grandmother, Evalyna Langhorne was Fannie’s sister. Evalyna married  Thomas Houchins and their son Harry, also blind from the family disease, played the banjo and sometimes played with Tump, Babe, and Dudley. As you may remember from earlier posts, I met Charles Langhorne Spangler’s children, Harvie Langhorne Spangler and Patrick Spangler, along with many of his grandchildren and great grandchildren!   I also met Dudley Spangler’s children, Bernice, Margie, and Wallace Spangler! They are all wonderful, kind , smart and friendly people! Babe has only one living child left, Grace, age 98 at this writing, called Sweetie. In my post just referred to, there is a story Babe’s great grandson tells about Sweetie that is priceless!  Pictures of many in this family can be found on the last blog post or two about the Spangler family reunion.

Published on Jul 10, 2012, Banjerholler on You Tube writes:

“These Virginia Fiddlers are John Watts “Babe” Spangler and his cousin, Dudley Spangler from Meadows of Dan, Virginia. The two learned their fiddling style from John Watts’ father, Wallace Spangler, a regarded fiddler from the area. This recording comes from a session of private recordings made by the boys to preserve their music. Let’s help to fulfill their wish!”

I’m all for preserving our musical heritage, and so very proud to be part of preserving some of my family’s talent!


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The Spangler Reunion, part 2, Charles Langhorne, “Tump” Spangler

  •      The Spangler Reunion as you may remember was held at the homestead formerly owned by Charles Langhorne Spangler and his wife Kittie Cockram Spangler. You could feel their very presence at the family gathering even though both are deceased.  “Tump” as he was called, was a very special man who inspires pride in all who claim him as kin, myself included as he is my first cousin. At the reunion, in the barn, there were displayed a number of photos, portraits, video and audio recordings and other family memorabilia. It felt like stepping into a treasure chest of family memories! Today I want to share with you some about Charles Langhorne Spangler. 

    Spangler homestead, Meadows of Dan Spangler reunion, Helen meets sisters Berniece and  L age 98

    Spangler displays, Tump

    Mountain Laurel ,  mtn-logo

    http://www.mtnlaurel.com/

    Charles Langhorne Spangler, “Tump” a tribute by John Hassell Yeatts    

  • By John Hassell Yeatts © 1983

    Issue: April, 1983

    “This was the offical state photograph taken of Mr. Spangler in the early 1930’s when he served in The Virginia General Assembly.It is never too late, they say, to mourn again the loss of a great individual. The fact that two months have elapsed since the kind and genteel heart of Charles Langhorne Spangler, “Tump” to all who knew him, stopped beating, does not make his passing a less somber event to be considered.

    Many people loved him for many different reasons. Some, perhaps, simply because his greatness was measured in so many dimensions that went far beyond the five productive terms he served in the Virginia House of Delegates. However, ‘the fact that he served with so much dedication, integrity and humility, set him apart from many of his legislative associates, and endeared him to many people.

    The overwhelming political odds he overcame to be first elected to that august body might have changed the character of a more pretentious person. But Mr. Tump, being the wise and humble person he was, sought only to serve that office with distinction. Had he possessed aspirations to higher office, he could undoubtedly have been elected and would have become one of Virginia’s outstanding Governors. He had the ability and leadership capable of higher office; the ancestral bearing of the Langhornes and the acumen and wit of the Spanglers. But he wanted nothing greater than to represent the people of Patrick County with democratic and unassuming distinction during the legislative term and then to hurry back to his loving family and comely white house beside Quakerfield Creek near the Meadows of Dan Post Office. He visited that Post Office almost daily until he was in his early nineties. And he always found warm hands to shake and pleasant conversation waiting for his arrival.

    Had he chosen a lawless route when he was a youngster in Mayberry instead of a law enforcement and lawmaking route, he could have easily become the terror of the top of the mountain. He possessed the physical strength of a good horse which he once obligingly demonstrated by breaking a lifting pole during the construction of the big Ceph Scott house, built by his outstandingly talented father, Wallace Spangler. Two of Mayberry’s strongest men in tandem had failed to fracture it. His contemporaries gave him a wide berth, we are told, even though he always displayed the harmonious and sympathetic character of his gentle mother, Fanny. He was born to be a leader only for good. The number of people in Patrick County and elsewhere who have benefited from their friendship with this great statesman could not possibly be enumerated. Many have preceded him to that Great Beyond. But the example he sat for young men and women to follow should not be allowed to become forgotten. And one way to do that would be to attempt to fill the mighty void his departure created with deeds of kindness and consideration for those left behind. We believe this is bound to happen and will become another measure of his greatness.

    When we last visited him in the Blue Ridge Nursing Home, he was still concerned with the passing of another great mountain man, Reverend Lawrence Bolt. We lamented his loss together. And when his eyes filled with tears and his booming voice choked with emotion, we quickly changed the subject. It was then he informed me. “You know I must have the finest room in this home. Looking from my window to my left, I can see the lumber plant where Brother (his nephew Langhorne Webb) and I spent so many happy days. Doesn’t look like it used to, but with a little imagination I can remember it all. And to my right, I can see the top of the Rye Cove mountain and toward the folks and land I love so well.”

    Well, he’s resting now in a plot on a large ridge top in Mayberry that he helped to clear and plow along about the beginning of this century. And he’s resting among many of those same folks he loved so well. But perhaps more importantly, he’s living inside the hearts and minds of even more folks that he loved; and he’s being remembered as he wanted to be; a good father, uncle, cousin and friend. But even more than that, he’s being remembered as just plain ‘Tump.”

    ____________________________________________

         Tump was one of six children born of Wallace Wolford Spangler and his wife Frances (Fannie) Eunice Langhorne. Tump had one, half brother- Harry Hannibal Spangler born 1877 to Wallace Wolford Spangler and Catharine (Katie) Ellen Spangler.  Wallace and Fannie’s children were:  

         As a young man, Tump married first, Susan Bertha Shelor, 1885-1909 who unfortunately died in childbirth.  Second he married Kittie Clyde Cockram and they had seven amazing children !  

         Only two sons are still living and I will tell you more about these amazing men, but there were a couple more displays I want to share with you right now. First is a lovely portrait of Tump and Kittie as the young professionals they were.  Thinking of Kittie,  you may remember a post called  Leila Cockam: Age 16, Murdered While Picking Apples! Another story re. my intriguing ancestors! -see the genealogy category- about a murder in Patrick County, Tump’s wife Kittie was the one up in the apple tree who witnessed her sister being murdered! The fact that she could sucessfully raise seven children is a miracle of life’s renewal. 

    Spangler, need to identify

    Near this portrait, was an interesting display–a framed pair of spurs one would use when riding a horse. A framed story accompanied the spurs, making something interesting into a “wow” moment. Notice__

    Soangler, display of spurs, worn by Tump, see story separatelySpangler story aboutspurs

    The story reads:  “A True History of These Riding Spurs

    These spurs –were removed from a German Army Officer’s boots on the battlefield in France during World War One, by Pat Rakes. a young U.S. Army soldier from Floyd,Virginia–brought back and given to me by him.  I used them several years while riding horseback as Deputy Collector for the U.S.Internal Revenue, searching out and destroying Moon-Shine stills in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, in Patrick, Henry, Franklin, Floyd, and Carroll Counties. My daily diary shows some 400 miles per month, for 4 years–1917-1921.  signed C.L.Spangler, unsure of date

    What a remarkable man! In the next post, you will learn that he played the fiddle also, along with his famous brother and cousin! 

          


2 Comments

When Your Genealogical Research Comes Alive!

     In February, 2013, I wrote a letter to Mr. David Sheley, a volunteer with the Patrick County Genealogy  Society, in fact their vice president, I believe. I was asking him for help with a “brick wall” I had hit in my research into the parents of my great grandfather Walter Thomas Houchins. As expected and agreed upon, Mr. Sheley published my query in the Enterprise, the local newspaper,  to see what others might offer. I never did find out for sure, the name  of my gg grandfather, but I kind of forgot, because I found about 30 other cousins–actually living! there were Spanglers , Harbours, Lawsons, ,Belchers, Pilsons, Dillons, Price, West, and many more! I was overwhelmed with friendliness and connections!

           My maternal grandmother was Katherine Steptoe Houchins, born 1883 in Patrick County Virginia. She was the daughter of Evalina Howell Langhorne and Walter Thomas Houchins. Grandma Kate as we called her, was the oldest of seven children born to this couple. Unfortunately,, Evalina was going blind like her father and many others in the family. The blindness we have always been told was glaucoma which ran strongly in the family, I am now told it might have been retinitis pigmentosa.  In 1900, Evalina died in childbirth carrying twins, the story of which I told in an earlier blog post. (see the genealogy category to find it) Fifteen when she married, Evalina was only 34 at her death with six living children, ranging in age from 3 to 16. Walter Thomas remarried Lena Elliott and had two more children with her. Unfortunately, he deserted the six living children of his first family. 

     Evalina was the daughter of James Steptoe Langhorne who owned the Langdale plantation which covered 13,000 acres I’m told, much of the area now called Meadows of Dan.  Steptoe, as he was called, is usually given credit for naming the Meadows of Dan. In a 1935 interview, Steptoe’s daughter, Fannie Langhorne Spangler, says that “his place was often referred to as the meadows, from the fact that along the Dan River on his estate, lay the only flat rolling lands found on that stream on the mountain”!  (quote from article written for  the Martinsville Daily Bulletin, by Charles F. Adams, June 15,1935.)

James Steptoe Langhorne, 1822-1905

Spangler, Harvie's portrait of James Steptoe Langhorne

                                 Elizabeth “Lizzie” Rachel Omohundro Langhorne, 1825-1915

                                                Langhorne,  portrait of Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro Langhorne

        As I worked at my research on my mother’s family, of course, I realized that my great grandmother, Evalyna Langhorne was one of 8 natural children, and two adopted children of James Steptoe and his wife Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro Langhorne. Further study helped me realize that Evalyna’s sister Fannie had married  Wallace Wolford Spangler, making their son Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler, my first cousin. I had grown up knowing of Tump Spangler, the Virginia state legislator, one of our famous cousins! And his brother Babe, known as the Virginia Fiddler, who I heard play on television in Richmond as a child. However, for whatever reason, I had never met them!  Then I received a phone call from Harvie Spangler, Tump and Kittie Cockram’s son, and my second cousin! He told me many Langhorne stories, some of which I’ve already written about, and breathed life into what had previously only been names on a piece of paper!  Suddenly James Steptoe Langhorne became Grandpa Steptoe.  I never even knew he was blind, as was my great grandmother Evalina losing her sight just before she died. I only knew that one of her sons, my great Uncle Harry Langhorne Houchins was blind. As it turns out, there were ten or fifteen members of the family affected by this disease.

     Talking with Harvie Langhorne Spangler  was like opening a flood gate! Before long he was inviting me to meet my cousins at the Spangler family reunion! I was thrilled. I do want to say, that at least five family members called me due to that article in the paper. I’m writing here about the Spanglers, Langhornes and Cockrams, because that is the reunion I just went to. But I was thrilled to meet Patsy Dillon Reyes, Betty Pilson, Alpha Hiatt, Beverly Belcher Woody, Betty Lawson Lawless, and Patty Lawson Kiser, Allen DeHart in my own backyard, and many more as the weeks went on. My family tree has grown by 500 names probably since I wrote that letter! I figured there are 56 living descendants of my great grandmother Evalina, and I really wanted them all to join me! Of course, that would have made it a Langhorne reunion, not a Spangler one! So, I hope we will do that in the future, for now I am meeting the family and enjoying the area! But never far from my thoughts is the idea of getting all of my cousins, from California, Oklahoma, Illinois, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, and North Carolina together with as many other cousins related to the Langhornes as possible!  

    James Steptoe Langhorne and his wife Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro were the head of the Meadows of Dan branch of my family, but  their daughter Fannie Langhorne Spangler with her husband Wallace Wolford Spangler were leaders of that area in their own family.  As far as our relationship to each other, and to the Langhornes, the Spangler’s come down from Fannie, I and 56 currently living cousins come down from her sister Evalina. 

 James Steptoe Langhorne

Your 2nd great grandfather

Birth 11 Sep 1822 in Langhorne Mill, Roanoke, Virginia, United States

Death 4 Dec 1905 in Plantation, Jefferson, Kentucky, United States

married; Elizabeth Rachael OmohundroYour 2nd great grandmotherBirth 2 Mar 1825 in Amherst, Amherst, Virginia, United StatesDeath 10 JAN 1915 in Meadows Dan, Patrick, Virginia, USA
  • Henry Ellis Langhorne (1849-1865), drowned at 16,no issue
  • Virginia Alice Langhorne (1852-1924) married Charles M.Cassel, 5 children
  • Charles P. Langhorne (1852-) no issue
  • Francis ( E Langhorne (1854-1936) m. Wallace W. Cockram, 6 children
  • Sarah E. Langhorne (1857-1868),died young, no issue
  • Mary O Langhorne (1860-1952) m. first, Wm.Caldwell Shelor, had one daughter, second m. Charles David DeHart, had 7 children
  • Nancy A Langhorne (1863-1917) m. Wm. Pinkney Howell, had 7 children

Evaline Langhorne (1866-1900) m. W.Thomas Houchins, had 9 children, 6 lived to maturity.

  • Borids (adopted son) Thales (1874-) have not identified issue or marriage
  • Ernest Lindsey (adopted grandson, son of Mary)  Langhorne (1879-1953) m. Mary S. Blackard, and had 8 children.

******************************************

 

Francis (Fannie) Eunice Langhorne

Your great grand aunt

Birth 19 Dec 1854 in Mayberry, Patrick, Virginia, United States

Death 30 Oct 1936

Wallace Wolford SpanglerBirth 6 Apr 1851 in Mayberry, Patrick, Virginia, United StatesDeath 17 Dec 1926 in Mayberry, Patrick, Virginia, United States
  • John Watts, “Babe” Spangler (1882-1970)

      Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler (1885-1983)

  • Mary Josephine Spangler (1887-1970)
  • Lila Ann Spangler (1889-1973)

Elizabeth Lucretia Spangler (1892-)

Virginia Empress Spangler (1894-1933)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler

Your 1st cousin 2x removed

Birth 15 Mar 1885 in Patrick, Virginia

Death 30 Jan 1983 in Meadows Of Dan, Patrick, Virginia, United States

Kittie Clyde CockramYour 4th cousin 2x removedBirth 12 Dec 1894 in Virginia, United StatesDeath 12 Nov 1981 in Meadows Of Dan, Patrick, Virginia, United States

 

.Samuel Maurice Spangler (1916-1997)

Leila Evelyn Spangler (1918-2002)

  Thomas W Spangler (1920-1991)

Benjamin Leslie Spangler (1923-1996)

Harvie Langhorne Spangler (1928-)

Charles Bishop Spangler (1932-2011)

Daniel Patrick Spangler PhD (1934-)

 

 

 ************************************************************

 

Mary Josephine Spangler, Tump’s sisterYour 1st cousin 2x removedBirth 14 Sep 1887 in Meadows Of Dan, Patrick, Virginia, United StatesDeath 7 Mar 1970
married: Dudley Singleton SpanglerBirth 28 Apr 1891 in Virginia,United States of AmericaDeath 6 May 1981 in Martinsville, Henry County, Virginia 

   .  Margie M Spangler (1922-)

  • Wallace William Spangler (1923-)
  • Sarah Berniece Spangler (1930-

 

 *********************************************************************


John Jefferson Cockram

Birth 14 Aug 1856 in Patrick County, Virginia, USA
Death 1 Dec 1939 in Patrick VA USA
married

Louisa Elizabeth ‘Lutie’ Helms

Your 3rd cousin 3x removed

Birth 25 Feb 1864 in Patrick, Virginia, United StatesDeath 30 Jun 1944 in Patrick VA USA

 

 Joseph Wooster Cockram (1881-1965)

  • Mary Etta Cockram (1883-1968)
  • William Lewis Cockram (1886-1971)

Walter A B Cockram (1888-1977)

  • Fannie L Cockram (1889-1972)
  • Ella Lou Cockram (1890-1914)
  • Amos Harvey Cockram (1892-1959)
  • Dolly Ruth Cockram (1893-)

Kittie Clyde Cockram (1894-1981)

Leila Evelyn Cockram (1897-1914)

  • Dean Potter Cockram (1899-1997)
  • John Edd Cockram (1901-1937)
  • Florence Alma Cockram (1904-1984)

Hammie Ham D Cockram (1906-1989)

Minnie Susie Cockram (1910-)

Notice: Minnie Susie Cockram is still living at 103, in  Chester, Virginia, just outside of Richmond. She married:

Paul Austin ElliottBirth 25 Aug 1912 in Pelham, Caswell, North Carolina, USADeath 21 Mar 1985 in Richmond, Chesterfield, Virginia, United States of America
Minnie Susie Cockram, sister of Kittie

Birth: August 17, 1910

  • Richard Paul Elliott  (1932-2012)
  • Nellie Jean Elliott (1934-2003)
  • Ralph Cole Elliott (1936-)
  • Kitty Mae Elliott (1938-2005)
  • George Wesley Elliott (1940-)
  • William Howard Elliott (1941-)
  • Betty Lou Elliott (1942-)
  • Donald Austin Elliott (1944-)
  • Carolyn Sue Elliott (1946-)

 

 *****************************************************************

My own g. grandmother was Evalina, usually called Evelyn Howell Langhorne who married Walter Thomas Houchins.

Walter Thomas HouchinsYour great grandfatherBirth 12 May 1854 in Patrick, Virginia, United StatesDeath 19 Dec 1937 in Spray, Rockingham, North Carolina, United States
Evaline LanghorneYour great grandmotherBirth abt 1866 in Virginia, United StatesDeath 6 Oct 1900 in Virginia

 Katherine Steptoe Houchins (1883-1943)

         Julia Elizabeth Houchins (1885-1969)

Harry Langhorne Houchins (1887-1973)

William Thomas  Houchins (1890-1968)

Virginia Myrtle Houchins (1892-1894)

John Langhorne Houchins (1893-1968)

Guy Maurice Houchins (1897-1954)

 

Of these seven children, only 3 had issue. Julia had one son, Guy a son and a famous daughter, and Katherine (Kate) had seven children, six girls and one boy who drowned at age eight. Now of course there are grandchildren and great grandchildren, numbering 56 direct decendants living at this date, and I know of one on the way. My mother was Margaret Steptoe Kerse, daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins Kerse,daughter of Evalina Langhorne, sister of Fannie Langhorne Spangler, both daughters of James Steptoe Langhorne—and thus we relate and  descend!

 


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One Tragic Day in October, a True Story re. the Death of Evelyn Langhorne Houchins and Joyce Knowles Helms

Women riding horses in 1910

      Saturday, October 6, 1900 was a beautiful Fall day, crisp and cool in the mountains of Patrick County Virginia. For our family, it was a tragic day. My maternal great, great-grandmother, Evaline Howell Langhorne, age 34 went into labor with twins. She was living at the plantation home of her blind father James Steptoe Langhorne and her mother Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro Langhorne, along with her husband and six children. A rider went out to ask her cousin and midwife Louvenia Joyce Knowles Helms, age 64, to come quickly to help with the complicated home birth.

Louvinia Knowles Helms

     Louvenia grabbed her supplies and asked her daughter Louisa,age 36, called Lutie,  to accompany her by horseback to the Langhorne’s home. They rode hard through the woods as they knew time was of the essence. Louisa was just behind her mother as they galloped along. Suddenly her mother slowed, stopped and dropped to the ground clutching her chest. Lutie was stunned as she rushed to her mother’s side. Doing all that she could to help her mother, it wasn’t enough and her mother died that day of a heart attack, rushing to help my grandmother give birth! Louvenia had eleven children of her own and her beloved husband Adam Helms who survived her.

       Meanwhile, Evaline Houchins was in trouble as well, The birth wasn’t going well, and her body was just not able to withstand the physical stress. This wonderful young woman and both infants died that day as well as Louvenia! What a tragic day for our family, and what a tragic day for all of Patrick County, Virginia on that beautiful Fall day in October, 1900! 

(This story was told to Helen Holshouser by Harvie Langhorne Spangler on April 26, 2013.)

RELATIONSHIP CHARTS:

Louvenia Joyce Knowles (1836 – 1900)

is your 2nd cousin 4x removed
mother of Louvenia Joyce Knowles
father of Jane Harbour
father of David Harbour
son of Abner Harbour
daughter of Moses* Harbour
daughter of Joyce Harbour
son of Nancy J Houchins
daughter of Walter Thomas Houchins
daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kerse –

——————————————

Evaline Langhorne (1866 – 1900)

is your great grandmother
daughter of Evaline Langhorne
daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kerse


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Lelia Cockram: Age 16, Murdered While Picking Apples! Another story re. my intriguing ancestors!

Leila Cockram, murdered, Sept. 7, 1914

Lelia Cockram, 1897-1914

         It was a crisp fall day in the mountains of Virginia almost 100 years ago, when my cousin Lelia Cockram, age 16, and her little sister, Kittie, age 13, went to pick apples up on the mountain. Kittie was up in the tree throwing apples down to Lelia when she saw a man approach them. She recognized Oliver Reynolds, a man working in the area who began making comments to Lelia about coming with him and being his girl. Some say she had shunned his advances before. According to a newspaper article printed in the Daily News Record of Harrisonburg, Virginia on Monday, September, 1914, Kittie testified that she heard her sister ask Oliver Reynolds as he approached if he had come to help them pick apples, and he answered in the affirmative.  The next thing Kittie says she heard, was her sister saying “Ow, stop!” Kittie thought maybe she had hit her sister with an apple and peered through the branches to see Mr. Reynolds hitting her sister on the back as she bent over. Then Kittie said she saw him draw a knife and begin cutting her sister! He stabbed Lelia in the neck! Finally he ran away!

     Kittie came down and tried to staunch the flow of blood from her sister’s neck. Her screaming attracted attention and men came to help carry Lelia to the house. Kittie testified that Lelia actually talked to them until she died!  Lelia’s promising young life was ended on the mountain that day September 7, 1914.

      That area in Patrick County, Virginia was a close-knit community, many of them kinsfolk. Oliver Reynolds was easily apprehended, the problem was to protect him from the lynch mob that wanted to hang him. Leila’s father John “went a little crazy” for a while after her murder, what parent wouldn’t have? And what of her mother and fourteen siblings, especially Kittie? Kittie grew up to marry a state congressman, Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler and have seven children, but always remained sad and had nightmares regarding her sister’s murder! Today we would say she suffered from PTSD after such a terrible crime!  

    In September 1914, in another county for safety of the prisoner, Oliver Reynolds was sentenced to life in prison, Kittie had to testify. On the 1920 census, he can clearly be seen as an inmate in prison in Goochland County, Virginia. One report claims he died of tuberculosis while imprisoned sometime after 1930. However, I have not been able to locate him in a Virginia prison on the 1930 census, so I suspect he died before 1930. How sad; his was a wasted life.

    At 16, Lelia was already a teacher in rural Virginia. She was well-educated as many young girls were not. For the sake of my cousins and siblings, I am including a relationship chart for our kinship to Leila and Kitty Cockram. Thanks to many of my cousins, especially Harvie Spangler, Kittie’s son; Beverly Belcher Woody,  Patty Lawson Kiser, and Betty Lawson Lawless for giving me information for this story.

 Leila Cockram is murdered!


Lelia Evelyn Cockram
(1897 – 1914)

is your 4th cousin 2x removed

Louisa Elizabeth ‘Lutie’ Helms (1864 – 1944)

mother of Kittie & Leila Cockram

.

Louvenia Joyce Knowles (1836 – 1900)

mother of Louisa Elizabeth ‘Lutie’ Helms

.

Jane Harbour (1798 – 1882)

mother of Louvenia Joyce Knowles

.

David Harbour (1758 – 1846)

father of Jane Harbour

.

Abner Harbour (1730 – 1778)

father of David Harbour

.

 Moses Harbour (1755 – 1835)

son of Abner Harbour

.

Joyce Harbour (1805 – 1888)

daughter of Moses* Harbour

.

Nancy J Houchins (1833 – )

daughter of Joyce Harbour

.

Walter Thomas Houchins (1854 – 1937)

son of Nancy J Houchins

.

Katherine Steptoe Houchins (1883 – 1943)

daughter of Walter Thomas Houchins

.

Margaret Steptoe Kerse (1918 – 1980)

daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins

.

Helen Spear Youngblood

You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kerse