Biography of Alexander Houck
Buchanan County, IA Biographies





Since 1900 Alexander Houck has rented his valuable farm in Westburg township to his son and has lived in honorable retirement from the responsibilities of active life in Independence. He was born in Walton, Delaware county, New York, on the 14th of June, 1844, a son of William and Lydia (Hoage) Houck. The father was born in Schoharie county, New York, his parents being Ruloff and Rachel Houck. Ruloff Houck was a native of Holland and was sent to the United States with a colony before the war for independence. During that struggle he was a tory, remaining loyal to King George. He lived to the remarkable old age of one hundred years and his wife also survived to an advanced age. Both the father and mother of our subject were born in Decatur, New York, and the former was a farmer by occupation. During his lifetime much of the Empire state was a wilderness, and he cleared three farms, which he improved and cultivated. He passed away in that state at the age of seventy one years and his wife died when fifty six years of age. The father was a democrat in his political belief, and she belonged to the Methodist Episcopal church. To their union were born seven children. The father had eight children by a previous marriage, Miss Sarah Case, a native of New York, being his first wife.

Alexander Houck remained at home until he was twelve years of age, or until the death of his mother. His father died two years later and he was thrown upon his own resources. He worked upon farms by the month until 1862, when, on the 27th of August, he enlisted in Company C, One Hundred and Forty fourth New York Volunteer Infantry, serving with his command until the close of the war and participating in a number of battles and skirmishes. He took part in the engagements before Charleston and in many battles upon the Atlantic coast. He was honorably discharged on the 15th of June, 1865, in South Carolina and returned to Delaware county, New York.

In the fall of that year Mr. Houck removed to Jones county, Iowa, where he remained for one year, working upon farms by the month. He then came to Buchanan county and was employed by others for two years. At the end of that time he was married and, as his wife owned eighty acres of land in Westburg township, the couple settled upon the place and Mr. Houck devoted his time to its cultivation and improvement. He purchased adjoining land until the farm comprised nearly four hundred acres, but eventually disposed of all but two hundred acres. He operated it successfully until 1900, when he rented it to his son and removed to Independence, where he now lives retired. The land is naturally very productive and its fertility has been carefully conserved by modern methods of agriculture. Mr. Houck was a very progressive and energetic farmer and his place yielded him annually a substantial return.

On the 15th of April, 1869, Mr. Houck was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Stewart, a native of County Derry, Ireland, born on the 26th of December, 1847. When quite young she was brought to the United States and lived for three years in Philadelphia and for nine years in Bolton, New Jersey. Her parents, Robert and Margaret (Gourley) Stewart, were likewise natives of the north of Ireland and came to the United States about 1850. Her father was a farmer in his native land, but for several years after emigrating to this country was employed in a nail factory in New Jersey. In April, 1860, he came west and located in Westburg township, this county, settling upon a tract of one hundred and sixty acres of land, which he had purchased in 1856. He was an indefatigable worker and soon had his land in a fine condition. As his capital increased he invested in additional land until he became the owner of twelve or thirteen hundred acres of fine land, besides owning a great many residences in Independence. He eventually rented his farms and removed to Independence, where he built a home and lived retired, with the exception of a couple of years, when he again farmed, until his death, which occurred when he was eighty nine years of age. His wife also lived to a good age, dying when eighty five years old. They were both members of the Presbyterian church and Mr. Stewart was a republican in politics. Mrs. Houck has lived the greater part of her life in this county and is widely known and highly respected here.

To Mr. and Mrs. Houck were born seven children. Elsie is the wife of Erkson Houck, who is engaged in the real estate business in Houston, Texas, and they have two children, Alexander and Harriet. Robert W., a mail carrier on a rural route from Jesup, Iowa, is married and has three children, Frances, Harold and Bernice. Harry, who is farming near Jesup, is married and has two children, Herbert and Theodore. Stewart, who is operating his father's homestead, is married and has four children, Donald, Kenneth, Marcia and Wayne. Margaret is the wife of George E. Knapp, a lawyer of Vinton, Iowa. Lulu married Roy G. Crowder and died when twenty eight years of age, leaving a son, John Alexander. Mabel is the wife of Harold Tabor, of Independence, and they have two children, Elizabeth Janet and Charles Byron.

Mr. Houck is a member of the Masonic fraternity and his wife has been connected with the Eastern Star for over twenty years. She attends the Presbyterian church. Mr. Houck by his ballot supports the men and measures of the republican party. He has taken quite an active and prominent part in public affairs, serving on the school board, as township trustee and as assessor. He enjoys the unqualified respect of those who have been brought in contact with him, as his life has always been guided by high standards of conduct.

From:
History of Bachanan County, Iowa
And its People
By Harry Church and Katharyn J. Chappell
Vol II
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chicago 1914


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