[p. 441] State Health officer for Shenango Township, general farmer and respected citizen, is a worthy representative of an honorable old pioneer family of Lawrence County. He was born in Shenango Township, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, February 5, 1842, and is a son of Jacob and Nancy (Cunningham) Houk.
The great-grandfather was Philip Houk, who came to Western Pennsylvania from New Jersey and settled in Wayne Township, Lawrence County (as it is now) on the farm which is occupied by a descendant, William Houk. The records show that he purchased 150 acres of land from Ben Chew. The earliest date in connection with him is the record of the marriage of John Newton to one of his daughters, in 1792. His eight sons were named: Jacob, Jonathan, John, William, David, Benjamin, Samuel and Philip, and his two daughters both married, one John Newton and the other, James Frew.
John Houk, grandfather of Esli N., was born in Wayne Township, Lawrence County, and he participated in the War of 1812, as did his brothers, Benjamin, William and David. After reaching mature years he engaged in agricultural pursuits in what is now Shenango Township, until the close of his life. He married Elizabeth Nichols and they had the following children: Jacob, William, Philip, John, Calvin, Clara, Mary and Eliza.
Jacob Houk, father of Esli N., was born in Shenango Township, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, August 2, 1801. He learned the carpenter trade and followed the same until 1847, when he bought the farm which is now owned and occupied by his son, Esli N., and here he engaged in general farming during the remainder of his active life. His death occurred January 22, 1888. He was firm in his convictions, both political and theological, through life supporting the Democratic party and living worthily as a member of the Center United Presbyterian Church. Jacob Houk was married twice, first to Martha Mayne. The two children of this marriage died young. His second marriage was to Nancy Cunningham, a daughter of Benjamin Cunningham, of Shenango Township. She was born May 12, 1806, and died in 1895. Esli N. was the only child of this marriage.
Esli N. Houk grew to manhood on the homestead farm and obtained his education in boyhood, in the country schools, completing his training in the winter of 1863-64, after he returned from his first term of service as a soldier in the Civil War. He had served nine months as a member of Company A, One Hundred Thirty-fourth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and during this period had been ill and confined to a hospital at Frederick City. In August, 1864, Mr. Houk re-enlisted, entering the Fifth Heavy Artillery, in which he served until the close of the war. He is an honored veteran of the Grand Army of the Republic, Wampum Post, No. 381.
Mr. Houk remained at home assisting his father until 1876, when he visited Kansas and remained there four years, following farming, but he returned to Shenango Township in 1880, and since then has been a continuous resident. He engages in general farming, but makes a specialty of dairying, keeping nine head of cows for this purpose and selling his milk to the creamery at Energy, Lawrence County.
Mr. Houk married Sarah E. Hill, who is a daughter of Nathaniel and Huldah Hill of Shenango Township and they have one son, Eugene L. The latter married Laura Conner, who is a daughter of Smith Conner, and they have three daughters: Bessie, Ada and Ruth.
In politics, Mr. Houk is an active citizen and has filled numerous offices of responsibility with the greatest efficiency. For six years, from 1899 to 1905, he was county auditor, has been also school director and township assessor and at present fills the office of registering assessor. He is identified with the Republican party. Mrs. Houk is a member of the Baptist Church. Time has treated them kindly and it would be difficult to find a man of his years who is more active of body or alert of mind than is Esli N. Houk, who is well and favorably known all over Lawrence County.
20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County Pennsylvania and Representative Citizens Hon. Aaron L. Hazen Richmond-Arnold Publishing Company, Chicago, Ill., 1908
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Updated: 22 Oct 2001