JOHN A. HOUGHTON, who died at his comfortable and widely known homestead in Florence township on the 31st of January, 1904, had then passed fifty years of his useful life in that locality. Still a hale, intelligent and beloved old man, he was so suddenly cut off by apoplexy that his relatives and friends could scarcely realize that his cheerful, helpful and inspiring earthly presence had gone from them forever. Up to the time of his death he was known as one of the four surviving charter members of the old Masonic lodge known as St. Clair No. 164, of Florence township, and, in the conduct of his daily life, was a credit to the highest standard of the order. While never a constant church attendant, he was liberal in his donations to local charities and offered the warm hand of friendship and timely assistance to those in trouble, without knowledge of their religious creed. He was also a liberal patron of magazines and newspapers, and widely read on social, political and religious topics. A stalwart Republican, he was simply a firm beliver in the principles of his party, never using it as a personal leverage. He did employ it to advance the public interest of the township which he assisted in organizing, but during the half century of his residence therein neither sought nor held office. He was a remarkably intelligent man, an unusually disinterested citizen and a Christian in practice, if there ever was one in this world.
Mr. Houghton was born in Tioga county, Pennsylvania, July 21, 1832, and was a son of Frederick and Lois Ann (Hampton) Houghton. His father was of old Massachusetts stock — a shrewd, intelligent, popular Yankee — who long conducted a hotel near Buffalo, New York, before he came west to Benton county in 1865. By his first wife (nee Hampton) he had one son and three daughters, his second wife being Miss Mary Whittington. His brother settled in Michigan during the early days and was one of the pioneer traders in the present locality of Houghton. A good father and citizen, a Mason of high degree, and a man who inspired general respect, Frederick Houghton passed away in 1867, his second wife dying eleven years later.
The son, John A., migrated from Pennsylvania to Michigan when, he was a very young man, his first employment in that state being to cut timber for the pioneer railway which was built through the southern peninsular to Chicago. When the line was pronounced in working order he boarded the first train for the Illinois town which pulled out of Detroit. It was a trip teeming with thrills and hardships, as the train ran off the track half a dozen times and the brave adventurers were obliged to go without food for thirty-six hours. But the muddy city at the foot of the lake did not appeal to Mr. Houghton, and he went to work for a farmer in DeKalb county, Illinois, by the name of Ben Darnell. In 1854 his employer started with his family, household goods and cattle, for the wild prairies of Benton county, and his useful "farm hand" was one of the party. Mr. Houghton took up a quarter section himself and, after working for Mr. Darnell for some time, married Miss Mary Bower and set up his own house-Bold. This move in his life marked the commencement of his career of permanent prosperity and advancement. He afterward purchased forty acres more. His wife (the present widow), had been born in Yorkshire, daughter of John and Hannah Bower, also of that English county; had emigrated to Canada in her girlhood and to Benton county in the fall of 1854. As her father was a highly educated man and considerate as well, the daughter received a good education, and Mrs. Houghton is considered a remarkably intelligent lady, both highly respected and beloved. She is the mother of five children, of whom four survive as honored men and women. Hannah Lois, has been a teacher in the Benton county schools for several years; William Anthony, is now conducting the home farm for his mother and sister; John Frederick Houghton, the third born, who is the only one of the children to leave Benton county, is now a merchant in the south; Martha Jane, the youngest, has been a teacher in the Benton county schools but is now looking after home duties.