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One of the mysteries in the Houston family is the circumstances and final resting place of my great-great-grandfather, John Bryant Houston. I know his place and year of birth, his Alabama marriage and how he got to Texas. I even have a letter written by him to his brother in Louisiana in 1853. But his passing and final resting place have eluded me for the past 10 years.

In 2010, my brother and I took Dad back to Texas to visit his sister, Lylia Pearl. I was just beginning to delve seriously into genealogy at the time, and I insisted we visit several cemeteries in the area. While visiting Eastland City Cemetery, we found the marker for my great-great-grandmother, Eliza A. Clements Houston, who passed in 1919. The marker was quite large and contained the epitaph "Wife of J.B. Houston." But we could not find a marker for her husband. No listing existed for J.B. Houston in the cemetery index. He was listed in the 1900 census but not that of 1910, which found Eliza Houston to be living with one of her daughters, Docia Norton. We surmised that J.B. had passed in the first decade of the 20th century but could find nothing to indicate the manner of his death or where he was buried. I communicated online with others who had an interest in the Houston family history. All came up empty, and the mystery gnawed at them as much as it did me. Had he left his wife? Was the body lost somehow? I had given up hope of ever solving the mystery.

FaceBook contains a great many groups focused on just about every known subject. Many are dedicated to people with ties to certain towns or cities. Hobbs, N.M., had several groups which I used in researching my previous articles. I wondered if there were groups related to Eastland, Texas. Of course, there were several, one of which was specifically geared toward genealogy. I joined the group and made a request for any information relating to J.B. My thinking was that perhaps those who were retired could scour libraries or archives from newspaper and government offices. Many small towns have not yet placed records online. It was a long shot, but I had nothing to lose.

Within two hours I had a response! The administrator of the Eastland group, Scott Hoover, had access to newspaper archives yet to be placed with online subscription archives. He posted a scanned section of the Nov. 23, 1906, edition of The Herald from Carbon, Texas. It stated: J.B. Houston died last Friday night and was buried Saturday evening at Pleasant Valley. Mr. Houston was getting old and had been confined to his bed for several weeks. He leaves a wife and several children and grandchildren.

I was shocked at how quickly the mystery's solution had been revealed. My unfavorable opinion of FaceBook did a complete 180-degree turnabout. Finally, an actual use provided by social media! Scott Hoover continued to find more information about John and Eliza Houston's family. Seems the Houston children battled over Eliza's will after she passed, resulting in at least two court cases and my great-grandfather being arrested for fighting with his brother-in-law over the matter. Scott and I exchanged several emails, and he even recognized some of my kin still in Eastland. He will attempt to find John Houston's grave at Pleasant Valley Cemetery. My wife and I want to travel through Texas this summer, and we hope to meet up with Scott. If we do, I'll buy him dinner, or at least a beer. The way I see it, I owe him a lot more.

-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 03/06/2019

Print Headline: Finding J.B.

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