Goodbyes are not forever.
Goodbyes are not the end.
They simply mean I miss you.
Until we meet again!
- author unknown
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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Margaret Ann Houk

The one branch of my family tree that I am completely stuck on is the Austin line. Stories passed down through the years indicate that there is an indirect link to Steven Fuller Austin (an indirect link because he had no children), known as "The Father of Texas." I was also told by my grandfather that there is a connection to the Alamo. It's great to have stories, but without proof I'm skeptical.

The problem: my link to Texas is my great great-great grandfather, Robert E Austin and I know nothing about him. I have no idea who his parents were or when/where he was born or died. I am traveling around in circles in my research desparately trying to stumble on a link or connection. This post is documentation of what I do know and hopefully one day I will be able to update it with heroic tales from the Alamo :)

Margaret "Maggie" Ann Houk, daughter of James Jackson Houk and Sarah Elizabeth Taylor, was born 1868 in Limrock, Jackson, Alabama. She married John Lewis Jones on 9 Aug 1883 in Jackson County, Alabama and with him had two children, Ethel (b: abt 1886) and Alexander (b: 1887).

On 20 Jan 1892 Maggie married Robert E Austin in Jackson County, Alabama. With him she had two children, Erna Virginia (b: 1893, my great grandmother) and Nellie (b: abt 1897).

Although I have been unable to confirm the date, my research shows Maggie died on 20 Jun 1901. The story that I heard recently was that Erna was adopted by her Aunt Betty. I determined that Elizabeth Erna Houk Sturdivant, Maggie's younger sister was Aunt Betty and on the 1910 US Census records, Alex and Nellie both lived with the Sturdivant family. This gives me confidence that the 20 Jun 1901 death date for Maggie is reasonable and leads me to believe that all of Maggie's children may have been adopted by Aunt Betty.

But what about John L Jones and Robert E Austin? Why didn't they have the kids after Maggie's death? I guess a possibility is that neither remarried and therefore would have been difficult to raise the children on their own. Another thought is that they both could have died at a young age. I cannot prove this for either of them.

The 1900 US Census is a mystery for everyone in this story. Either they were MIA or the census taker butchered their name beyond recognition.

The Children:

Ethel Jones was born around 1886 in Tennessee. She married William G Stapler and had three children: Robert Roy, Artie and William Edward. In 1935 she lived with her son Edward, a truck driver, in Hendry County and Glades County, Florida. In 1945 she lived with her son R Roy his family on 2654 Gilmore in Duval County, Florida.

Ethel Jones (left) and Erna Austin (right)

Alex Jones was born 28 Apr 1887 in Trenton, Jackson County, Alabama. In 1910 he lived with his Aunt Betty in Mooresville, Limestone County, Alabama and worked as a railroad laborer with his Uncle John Anderson Houk. In 1917 on his World War I Registration card he was listed as living in Walker County, Alabama, worked a coal miner and had black hair and brown eyes. Around 1917 he married Gertrude Shannon of South Carolina and between 1918 - 1928 had five children: Bernice, Virginia, Malcolm, Elwin and Doris.

In 1920 he lived in Coal Valley, Walker County, Alabama and worked as a coal miner with this Uncle John Anderson Houk. In 1930 he lived in Yellow Shanks, Walker County, Alabama and was a weighman at a coal mine.

Alex was wheelchair bound later in his life and died 17 Jan 1961 in Dora, Walker County, Alabama.

Erna Virginia Austin was born 19 Jan 1893 in Huntsville, Alabama. I am not certain when she moved to Mississippi, but Erna served as a nurse maid to a dying Alice Virginia "Virgie" Coker, the first wife of William "Willie" Leighton Hall. On 18 Oct 1910 Virgie died, leaving Willie with a two year old son, James Thomas, to care for. Erna and Willie were married in Mississippi on 19 Jun 1913 and together had five additional children: Erna Miriam, William Andrews, Charles Alexander, Alan Lincoln and Robert Edward. Willie died in 1931, leaving Erna to raise their children in Orlando, Florida. Her step son, James Thomas filled in as a father figure that the younger boys looked up to. Later she remarried O C Thomas in Mississippi. She buried two husbands and two sons before she died on 28 Dec 1977 in Orlando, Orange County, Florida. She is buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Gotha, Orange County, Florida.

Nellie Austin was born around 1897. In 1910 she lived with her Aunt Betty in Mooresville, Limestone County, Alabama. I know nothing else about her.

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