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Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
Michael Houston


MICHAEL HOUSTON barrister and solicitor at law, and police magistrate of the city of Chatham, County of Kent, is descended from Scottish ancestry in both paternal and maternal lines.

The oldest member of the family of whom we have authentic record is Nathaniel Houston, the grandfather of Michael, who was born in Dalry, Scotland, about 1770, and there married Jane Dixon, who was born in 1773.  Their children were:  Alexander, Jennette, Jane, Robert and John M.  Of this family, Robert, the father of Mr. Houston, was the first to come to Ontario, emigrating thither in 1825, at the age of 22 years.  In due time all the other members of the family came also, and here the parents died.  When Robert Houston reached Canada he settled first at Montreal, and later moved to Aldborough, where in 1829 he married Nancy Campbell, who was born in Argyllshire, Scotland, in 1806, three years later than her husband, who was born April 6, 1803.  After marriage Robert Houston and his wife settled on a farm on what was known then as the Long Woods road, where they remained about two years.  On April 10, 1832, they moved to a farm in Harwich township, County of Kent, where he spent the remainder of a useful life, dying April 10, 1897, just sixty-five years to a day from the date of his settlement at that place.  His wife died in 1882.  The following children were born to them:  (1)  Annie, born December 25, 1830, married E.P. Longford, of Harwich township.  (2)  Duncan, born March 6, 1833, married Catherine Ferguson, and resides on a part of the old farm in Harwich township.  Their children are John D., a farmer of Raleigh, who married Effie Clark; Maggie, who married James Smith of Harwich; Annie, at home; Michael F., who married Sarah McKinley and is a farmer of Harwich; and Kittie, Tina and Walter, at home.  (3)  Margaret is the widow of John Richardson of Chatham.  (4)  John married Mary McKillop, of Harwich, and their children are Bessie, the wife of George Smyth; Alexander, who married Jennie Smyth; Annie; Margaret; Robert; John Jr; Mary and Duncan.  (5)  Michael is mentioned below.  (6)  Bessie married John R. Wood, of Appleton, Wisconsin, and they have six daughters.

Michael Houston, of Chatham, so well and favourably known throughout that locality, was born February 28, 1842, in Harwich township, County of Kent, on the old homestead, and there grew to manhood.  His education was obtained in the public schools of Harwich, and he finished his course in the Chatham high school.  In 1865 he creditably passed his primary examination in the law, and spent the winter of 1867-68 in the law school of the University of Michigan; later he became attached to the law office of Patterson, Harrison & Patterson, of Toronto, passing his final examination as barrister and solicitor in November, 1870.  That year he settled in Chatham, and for a time attended to the business interests of E.W. Scane, but in January, 1871, he opened an office of his own, and continued in active practice alone until May 5, 1873, when he formed a partnership with E.W. Scane, the association continuing until Mr. Scane’s death in Spril, 1902.

On May 5, 1882, Judge Houston was appointed to his present responsible position, in connection with which he still continues in the practice of his profession.  He is solicitor for the Chatham Gas Co., of which he is a director, and he is one of the trustees of the Public General Hospital.

On November 12, 1873, Mr. Houston married Miss Harriet Northwood, of Chatham, daughter of the late William Northwood.  She was born July 28, 1852, and is a lady of education and social position.  Four children have been born to this union, namely:  Grace, who was educated at McMaster University; Margaret; Jessie, B.A., of the University of Toronto, class of 1902; and William, a student in the Collegiate Institute at Chatham.  The beautiful modern home of Judge Houston and family is located on Victoria Avenue, in Chatham.  Politically the Judge favours the Reform Party.  The religious membership of the family is in the Baptist Church.

Mr. Houston is an able lawyer, well equipped in the ethics of his profession, a magistrate of most excellent discrimination, a business man of integrity, and a progressive, enterprising and representative citizen.


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