"Tennessee Trails" through Bedford County

Bedford County TN Biographies


No family in^MHIH county is descended from lines of more clearly traced and exceptional lineage than is that to which Claude Venable Houston belongs. Its progenitors were known in the South' two hundred years ago. Prom Switzerland in 1837 came a representative of one of its lines. He was Martin Pfeiffer, or Phifer, as the name has been spelled during all the later generations of the family. Martin Phifer (who had been born in the Swiss country on October 18, 1720), after landing in America lived for a time in Pennsylvania. Thereafter he removed to Mecklenburg county, North Carolina, where he settled on Cold "Water Creek, four miles from the present site of Concord. There he purchased land, engaged in farming and lived until his decease on January 18, 1791. His wife was Margaret Blackwelder, who had been born in Holland on October 29, 1722, and who, it is said, had come to America on the same ship as that which carried Martin Phifer to these shores. She outlived him by a dozen years, her demise occurring on January 13, 1803. The monuments erected to their memory are still to be found, with their inscriptions, in the Phifer cemetery, three miles from Concord, North Carolina- Their son, Caleb Phifer, (born April 8, 1749, at Cold Water) was a planter on property given him by his father five miles west of Concord, and became prominent in public affairs. He was the first senator elected from his district in 1793 and was continued in office by re-election until 1801, inclusive, filling the office with honor and distinction. He lived until July 3, 1811, and there is a widely established tradition that he served as a colonel in the Revolutionary army; the title Colonel is engraved on his memorial stone. His wife was Barbara Fullenwider, who was born at a location on the Yadkin river, in Rowan county, in 1754. She survived him several years and was placed beside him in the historic Phifer cemetery. It was their daughter, Sarah Phifer, in whose marriage the Phifer family was united with that of Houston. William Houston, of Mecklenburg county, North Carolina, was a practicing physician. After their marriage they settled on land which had been given to Sarah Phifer Houston by her father, and there they remained for a number of years. They were successful in a material way and acquired a fortune. In later life they removed to Bedford county, thus founding here one of the most prominent families of this vicinity, and here they spent their last days. Their son, Caleb Phifer Houston, who also came here in 1830, had married Miss Jane I. Worke. They settled on land, inherited from Caleb Phifer, in this region. Caleb Phifer Houston became prominent as major of the State militia. He was also the first commissioner of the Murfreesboro, Shelbyville and Nashville turnpike. In his family there were nine children: William C, Robert W., Caleb P. Jr., James, Mary, Sallie, John S., Joseph B. and Blanche. Of these, Caleb Junior and the two youngest are deceased. The second, Robert Worke Houston has become well known as the owner and producer of fine breeds of stock, particularly of blooded horses.

Mrs. Robert W. Houston, nee Blanche Venable, is a native of Tennessee, in which state both she and her husband were educated. Mrs. Houston is a graduate of the Mary Sharp College of Winchester, Tennessee, and is a musician of rare accomplishment in both local and instrumental performance. She is widely known to the public in general, as well as to members of the musical profession. Blanche Venable Houston was a descendant of the French Huguenots. Her father was an ambassador to Central America under President Buchanan.

Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Houston are the parents of two sons and one daughter. The elder son is Claude Venable Houston, who is the special subject of this genealogical and biographical account. The second son, Robert W., Jr., is a Nashville chemist and druggist, a recognized authority in subjects pertaining to his business and science. He with his wife, nee Jeanie Martin, makes his home in the capital city. Miss Corinne Houston, the only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Houston, Sr., is a young lady who has inherited her mother's enviat ble musical gifts and who is also extensively known as an artist of great ability. Her last art teacher was a favorite pupil of the famous Beechwood artist. Carl Brenner, and Kenyon Cox, art critie, of New York, besides having studied under other good teachers. Her forte is portraiture and miniature work and she has taken several prizes and premiums at the fairs and exhibitions on all kinds of art work, such as place cards, souvenirs, etc.

Claude Venable Houston was born in Bedford county on December 31, 1866. His educational development was carried on during the formative years of his youth in the public schools of this community. He elected to follow the same vocation as that in which his father has secured such excellent results and in which he has made such an unusual success, both financially and otherwise. Similarly devoting all his time to the production of high-bred horses and other stock, Claude Venable Houston now shares his father's superior reputation as a stock-breeder. Like the elder Houston, he too is considered a most reliable authority on all points relating to this line of agricultural occupation. He held a commission as first lieutenant, Co. C, National Guards, State of Tennessee, under Governor Buchanan, in 1891.

In social and fraternal affiliation, Claude V. Houston is a popular member of both the Knights of Pythias and the Fraternal Order of Maccabees. In church interest, although his father and other members of the family are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, Mr. Houston is affiliated with the Presbyterian division of orthodox churches. He is a popular member of society wherever he goes and a characteristic representative of the distinguished family to which he belongs.

A history of Tennessee and Tennesseans: the leaders and representative men in commerce, industry and modern activities. By Will T. Hale Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1913

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