HOUSTON, MILETUS C. - For a half a century, Miletus C. Houston has been a factor in the development of Sangamon County, and his pride in its grand achievements is all the greater from the fact that he is a native born citizen of the county. He has seen its wild lands transformed into fine farms, while industrial and commercial interests have been born, and towns sprung into being, while Springfield has grown into a metropolis. In this work of progress, he has borne his part and was particularly active as a representative of the agricultural interests of the county. Although he is now living retired, he still retains a strong interest in whatever is going on. Not only is this true of him personally, but it may well be said that the history of his family is that of the county, for his father settled here in 1827, and was one of the county's pioneers.
Miletus C. Houston was born in German Prairie, Sangamon County, October 21, 1838, a son of Samuel and Lucretia (Rudder) Houston, the former born in Virginia in September, 1809, belonging to one of the first families of that State, and the latter was a native of Kentucky, born in 1813. Samuel Houston came to Illinois and Sangamon County with his father, in 1827, arriving here from an overland route, in a prairie schooner. The family settled in German Prairie, on a farm of 900 acres, which the father of Samuel Houston bought. Here Samuel Houston lived for about fifty years, then moved to Chicago, where he died at the home of a daughter, in 1892. His wife died in 1895, at the same place. In the family of this pioneer couple were nine sons and two daughters, now all deceased except Miletus C. and Mrs. Marietta Judd of Springfield. The Houston family has been one of the most prominent in the history of the State and nation, and they have a military record of which all who bear the name may well be proud. Of this immediate connection, two brothers of Mr. Houston of whom we write, William and John, enlisted from Sangamon County in the One Hundred and fourteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry and gave their lives in defense of the Union during the Civil War, both contracting disease from service and exposure, from which they never recovered. William Houston was one of the prominent lawyers of Springfield.
Miletus C. Houston was educated in the district schools of this county, and worked for his father on the farm until he was twenty years of age, then followed farming on his own account until 1859, when he began teaching. He taught school in German Prairie, near Mt. Pulaski, and in 1862, moved to Bloomington, Ill., where he remained for eighteen months, then went to Springfield, which has continued to be his home.
At German Prairie January 7, 1862, occurred the marriage of Mr. Houston when he was united to Eliza W. Miller, born in German Prairie, October 10, 1837. Mrs. Houston was recognized as one of the handsomest girls of Sangamon County, as may be seen from her portrait painted at the age of eighteen years. She is a daughter of George H. and Polly (Owens) Miller, also pioneers of Illinois, who came form Kentucky overland in a wagon in 1829, settling in German Prairie. Here Mr. Miller died in 1839, and the mother in 1875. In this family there were six sons and five daughters, and of these mrs. Houston, the youngest, is the only survivor. Hiram Owens Miller, a brother of Mrs. Houston, went by ox team, overland to St. Jose, Cal., two years before gold was discovered. The history of that terrible trip of six months, shows days when the little band went without food, and many other privations endured by these sturdy travelers. He came back and made several other trips, dying there in 1868. Through her mother, Polly (Owens) Miller, Mrs. Houston is connected with a noted family of Russelville, Ky. Three of Mrs. Houston's brothers were lawyers.
Mr. and Mrs. Houston became the parents of six sons and one daughter of whom six are living: Clarence was accidentally killed, December 13, 1910. The others are: Samuel; John, William and Edward, contractors, residing in Springfield; Ralph, a carpenter and contractor, also of Springfield; and Etta, wife of C. S. Martin, residing in New York City. William is one of the Aldermen of Springfield. There are twenty-eight grandchildren in the family. Mr. and Mrs. Houston reside in their comfortable home at No. 710 North Sixteenth street. Politically he votes with the Republicans. He takes a very active interest in local politics, having cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln. Although he has served as Assessor of Clear Lake Township, he has never cared for office. His residence of seventy-two years in Sangamon County entitles him to representation among the early pioneers, and his upright life commands for him the respect and confidence of his county and State. The famous Col. Samuel Houston of Texas was born in the same locality as Mr. Houston, and was a second cousin.