About Jonathan Curtis Howton
The Howton family of Fayette Co. has been the greatest genealogical mystery of my life for the past 18+ years. Every posssible person who could have been the progenitor of our line from Jonathan Howton has been struck down by various family researchers. In the late 1980's some thought we had found the correct person with the finding of a christening record for a John Hoton, son of George Howton and Mary Harold in 4/3/1757 at the Church of Saint Olave, London, England. Due to the fact that the name was not written as Jonathan, and this child was not an only child as legend has it with ours, this was discarded, as well as the fact that the dates were found confilciting witht he parents age being so close to our Jonathan's.. Until we can verify the date of this record, we cannot prove or disprove this. In my opinion though, we cannot absolutely rule it out and therefore I mention it in this article, in hope that some day someone might pursue the mystery.
The story of Jonathan carries a similar thread through almost all braches of his descendants. I will begin with the story I found most enlightening. This account came from a dear distant cousin, and descendant through Jonathan's son Joseph, who shared so much with me. His name was Harry Standefer and his letters came to me in 1988. His sense of humor kept me rolling with such notes as: "At my age (93) I have to treat all replies as an emergency..."
Harry's story, "Roots" is as Follows: " At the age of 12, Jonathan Howton (spelled Houghton in England) ran away from home and came to America as a stowaway on a sailing vessel. Jonathan's father owned property on the banks of the Thames River at the foot of London Bridge (now called Tower Bridge). Ever since he was large enough Jonathan had sat on the banks of the Thames with his father and watched the ships being loaded with soliders and supplies to be sent to America to fight the rag-tag Continental Army in the Revolutionary War."
(I note another account saying that Jonathan's father owned ships. There is a record of a Hoton in London who owned the following ships: Standard, 8/4/1797-4/25/1798; Blondie 4/26/1798-11/15/1799; Defiance (a good ship for Jonathan to climb onto) 11/16/1799-10/26/1801; Audaeious 10/29/1801-10/4/1802; Juno 11/03/1802-3/23/1803;Triumph, 3/27/1803-12/23/1804).
"The stories coming from this fabulous New World fascinated Jonathan, and at a tender age he determined that once that war ended, and he could board an American-bound ship he would serely go to this Utopia."
"Records indicate that he landed in Virginia, place and exact date not known. He worked his way southward and finally arrived in New Orleans. It was in New Orleans, about eight years after his arrival in America, that he met and married Miss Ann Trover. Neither of them wanted to make their permanent home in New Orleans, so they purchased a yoke of oxen and a wagon and started out to find a place in this big New World to make their permanent home."
"They went first to Pennsylvania. After a year there and the birth of a child, they went south to Virginia. After a year there and the birth of their second child, they went back to Pennsylvania. After another year there and the birth of their third child, they went back to Virginia. After another year in Virginia and the birth of their fourth child, they succumbed to the glowing reports coming from the rich land of Kentucky. They loaded their wordly goods and their four children in an ox-wagon and headed over the mountains and through the wilderness to Kentucky."
"About 1795 they settled in Hopkins Co., KY, where they spent the rest of their lives on a 400-acre land ghrant where six more children were born. Several years later Jonathan sold 200 acres to his eldest son, David." (Note: First land grand was 9/20/1804, 280 acres to his sixth child, son Joseph, for assuming the responsiblity of caring for his parents the rest of their lives. This son, Joseph, was my great grandfather (Harry's)."
To add some of my own research to this account, I would note Jonathan stated in the document just referenced, that he received the patent to this KY land on 12/15/1816. 200 acres of this was sold to son David Hoton on 1/17/1817, and the remaining 200 acres plus stock of horses, cattle, sheep, hogs, farming tools, household and kitchen furniture to Joseph for $1 and "the condition of this obligation is such that if the above bound Joseph Howton, his heirs, Executor, Administrators shall during the natural lives of the above named Jonathan Howton and Ann E. Howton, his wife, the father and mother of the said Joseph Howton, furnish them with a decent and comfortable support and maintenance to consist of meat, drink, apparel, and lodgin, and also to provide them a good and comfortable house to dwell in, furnish a sufficiency of fire wood and of every other article to render them comfortable and to their death bury them in a decent manner then this obligation to be void or else to remain in full force and virtue...
Jonathan possessed a spirit of adventure and rebellion no doubt. On 3/7/1825 he had to appear in Circuit Court in Hopkins Co, KY. The document reads: "Jonathan Howton...did profanely swear two proafane oath(s) by using the words "By God at two (several) times," contrary to the form of the statute in such can make and provided against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth aforesaid. (See Jonathan and Ann Trover Howton Descendants for the children of this family).
author Bertie Ruffin, 507 Warpath Rd. Columbus, MS 39701 and written by Sabra Newell Sudberry, pg 272 of article that Jackie sent to Jennifer Marlow
many of the Howtons, including Jonathan Curtis Howton, are buried in Hell's Half-Acre Cemetery. Located in the northwest part of Hopkins County in an area known as "Lynn Land". Cemetery consists of 75 graves or so with
no markers but sandstone markers which contain no inscriptions. It gets its name from tales that were told
about spirits that haunt the area known as Hell's Half Acre.
It was high fashion in the early 1880s to 1920s to try to connect an American family's ancestry to British nobility. F.W. Howton (Erica Howton's father) remembers hearing about ancestors going so far as to hire a genealogist to connect the Howtons of Kentucky with the Houghtons of Houghton Castle, England -- and a share of the (theoretical) inheritance.
Not only did that project fail, but 1828, 1869, 1912 and current DNA projects trying to connect American Houghtons (as in Houghton-Mifflin Publishing) with the British noble Hoghton family of Preston's Hoghton Tower (and the latter's connection to William the Conqueror) have all failed, too.
The "Houghton Surname Project" has over 86,000 Houghtons / Haughtons / Howtons documented:
n.b. 19 Aug 2010
Ancestry.com trees attachments to baptismal, christening and birth records as follow:
Birth date: 29 Aug 1761
Christening date: 3 Sept 1761
Christening place: Westminster, London, England
Age at Christening: 0
Father's name: Jonathan Houghton
Mother's name: Jane
Jonathan Howton's Timeline
April 3, 1765
Greater London, England
February 26, 1789
June 20, 1791
Rockingham, Virginia, United States
December 16, 1793
Rockingham, VA, USA
May 30, 1796
Cickenson, Virginia, United States
Dickinson, VA, USA
Tennessee, United States
Sumner, Tennessee, United States