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Chester C. Houston. When he came to Elgin nearly twenty-five years ago Chester C. Houston still had his fortune to make, and he was first known among his fellow townsmen as a hard worker at any employment he took up, until he finally graduated into independent merchandising. He had made a success by studying the needs and demands of his customers and had built up the largest and only distinctive clothing store in the town.
Mr. Houston was born at Orangeville, Cass County, Illinois, June 23, 1866, a son of W. T. and Sue C. (Gaines) Houston. In the maternal line he is of Scotch-Irish descent. The Houstons came originally from Wales, settled in Virginia during colonial days, and Mr. Houston’s grandfather, Isaac Houston, was born in Nelson County, Kentucky. During the War of 1812 he enlisted with the frontiersmen under General Jackson, and fought in the concluding battle of that war at New Orleans. For his services as a soldier his son, W. T. Houston, subsequently received a land grant. He finally removed to Illinois, was a pioneer farmer and distiller in that state, and he died in Cass County before Chester C. Houston was born.
W. T. Houston was born in Nelson County, Kentucky, in 1831, and died at Elgin, Kansas, in 1909. His early years were spent in his native county and as a young man he removed to Cass County, Illinois, married there, and followed farming until 1868, when he went to Cass County, Missouri, and continued farming until he was able to retire with a competence. He came to Elgin in July, 1908. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity and a republican voter. His wife, Miss Sue C. Gaines, was born in Morgan County, Illinois, in 1829 and died in Cass County, Missouri, in 1884. Their children were: Edward G., a farmer at Twin Falls, Idaho; Harry G., who was in the railway mail service and died at Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1906; Chester C.; Eugene M., in the real estate business at Archie, Missouri; and Frank S., who also took up the real estate business and was in Denver, Colorado, in 1914, when last heard of.
Chester C. Houston received his education in the public schools of Cass County, Missouri. He was reared on his father’s farm until twenty-six years of age, and in the meantime had further courses in the State Normal School at Warrensburg, Missouri. Coming to Elgin in 1892 for the next eleven months he performed the interesting duties of driver of the mail stage between Elgin and Pawhuska, Oklahoma. He also worked in local stores, and accepted other lines of employment which would give him experience and the modest capital with which to embark in a business of his own. In 1903 he was appointed postmaster of Elgin under President Roosevelt, and in connection with the office he established a book and stationery store and news stand. After two years he sold out and in 1905 established his present business, a general clothing store. This store is located on Grand Avenue and is the only exclusive clothing house in the town. Mr. Houston had friends all over Chautauqua County and his customers come to him from a radius of twenty miles. He had been well prospered in the last ten or fifteen years, owned a comfortable residence near the schoolhouse, and had some farm lands in Chautauqua County and also about eighty acres of oil lands in the county.
He is a member and trustee of the Methodist Episcopal Church, is a republican in politics, is present master of Olive Lodge No. 350, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Elgin and is past noble grand of Elgin Lodge No. 414, Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Mr. Houston married after coming to Elgin. On June 30, 1897, Miss Jessie Wait became his wife. She is a daughter of Dayton and Mary (Bobb) Wait, who reside at Elgin, her father being township trustee. Mr. and Mrs. Houston have two children: Doris, born November 28, 1907; and Philip, born October 11, 1910.