Transcribed from "An Illustrated History of The Big Bend Country, embracing
Lincoln, Douglas, Adams and Franklin counties, State of Washington",
published by Western Historical Publishing Co., 1904.
OLIVER C. HOUCK, one of the earliest
of the pioneers in Lincoln county, is now living in Spokane, at E.1601
Pacific avenue, where he owns a beautiful residence. He is retired
from the more active duties of life and with his good wife is enjoying
the fruits of their thrift and labors of the years gone by. All the
old timers of Lincoln county will be interested to read about Mr. and Mrs.
Houck, and it is a pleasure for us to append the details of their careers.
Oliver C. Houck was born in Troft creek valley,
Fulton county, Pennsylvania, on June 8, 1842. His parents were John
Z. and Deborah (Woodcock) Houck. The ancestors on both sides were
true Americans and highly respected people. The father died in Pennsylvania,
his native state, having been a life long member of the Methodist church.
Mrs. Houck, the mother, died on June 4, 1892, at her son's residence in
Holden, Missouri, aged eighty-five years and eight days. She was
born in Maryland, December 25, 1806, and married in Pennsylvania.
He rhusband died in August, 1867. In February, 1869, she came to
Holden and there lived with her son until her death. She was the
mother of four sons and one daughter. She lived a devout Christian
life and went home to the reward of the faithful. Our subject was
educated in the common schools of Pennsylvania until 1860, when he came
on west to Illinois. He worked for wages until his marriage, then
went to farming for himself. He rented land at first, and became
able later to buy and selected a farm where he dwelt for nine years.
Believing that the west had good things for him, he came out to Oregon,
explored the country in various sections and finally came to the vicinity
of Colfax, Washington, wintering in 1882 within six miles from that then
small town. The next year, 1883, he came to Lincoln county, then
a wild and largely uninhabited region. After due search he selected
a farm place, it was then raw prairie, nine miles northeast from where
Wilbur is now located. He used his preemption and timber culture
rights and thus secured a half section of land. The opening days
of this country were times of labor and deprivation and it took strong
hearts to brook all that came. The oldest son, Samuel, went to Walla
Walla and wrought in the harvest fields to obtain cash for food, while
the father and the mother labored to improve the farm. Mrs. Houck
was a faithful helpmeet in those days and labored along with her husband
in much of the out door work. Mr. Houck was possessed of real keen
foresight and saw the future of the Big Bend and so bought railroad land
as he became able, which wise move, together with their careful labors,
placed the family in very prosperous ways as the country began to build
up. They all continued to till the land and Mr. Houck was known as
one of the leading men of his section. In 1900, he and his wife decided
to take the rest that they had so well earned, and accordingly sold a portion
of the fine estate, bought the residence where they now live, and removed
hither to pass the golden days of their years in rest and amid more comforts
than the farm provides.
On September 25, 1862, Mr. Houck married Miss
Rebecca M., daughter of Samuel E. and Susannah (Jeffries) Parsons.
To them have been born the following named children: Samuel J., on July
31, 1863; William P., deceased, his death occurring on March 1, 1866; Susannah
D., on August 2, 1868; Sylvester L., on August 27, 1872; Emma L., on July
14, 1875. Mrs. Houck was born in Huntington county, Pennsylvania,
and received her education in Fulton county, Illinois.
When Mr. Houck came to the Big Bend country,
he had to go to Brents for mail and the nearest trading place was many
miles distant. The Indians were numerous and some times troublesome.
Mrs. Houck was obliged to keep the blinds drawn to avoid the hideous feeling
from seeing wild faces peering in at the windows. On one occasion
several Indians came to the house and asked for food. She was afraid
to say the husband was far away, and so deceived them by telling them he
was close by. They soon discovered he was absent and so were more
demanding. She showed them unbaked bread and explained that it was
all she had, but not to be so easily satisfied, the leader demanded food.
Mrs. Houck secured a stick of wood to try and defend herself with, and
just at that juncture, the husband came and the savages retired.
But these days are past and they were preserved from the threatened dangers
and are now passing their life in the comfort of the faith that makes faithful
and are blessed with many warm friends to cheer and make happy the pathway.