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From, "The History of Houston County", Taylor Publishing, 1982 - Page 31

Houston Township is located in the north tier of townships, second from the left, between Money Creek and Mound Prairie, Looney Valley, named for the first settler, John S. Looney, comprises the bulk of the town, with a dog-leg to the west of Root River Valley wedged between Money Creek and Yucatan Towns which makes up most of the rest of the town.  Small parts of Crystal Valley and Hop Hollow fall into the southeast corner.

Undoubtedly the first white men to visit future Houston Township were French fur traders in the late 1600s and early 1700s followed by the English and the Americans.  Their impact was minimal, being little more than the removal of fur-bearing animals for the European markets.

Next were the timber cutters, who came up the Root River, established temporary shelters, and moved onto a new location for the next season.  They were followed by the land seekers.  William G. McSpadden is the first recorded.  Plotting first the village of Houston and later the town of Winfield, in Looney Valley, that died aborning.

Two other potential cities never became more than "paper" towns.  Looneyville did have a post office and store for a short time, but St. Lawrence never was more than the sale of lots between land promoters.  The location of the railroad on the south side of Root River condemned the three potentials to death, leaving Houston to become the city it is today.

Organized as one of the original townships in 1854, the founding officers have been lost to the mists of time.

Serving the town today are: Ralph Lee, Vincent W. Poppe and Richard E. Snow as supervisors; Leonard E. Flatten as treasurer; and Mason A. Witt as clerk.  As in 1854, today the main concerns of the town officials are roads and bridges, their maintenance and reconstruction, plus the problems brought about by zoning laws and land use problems.

During the evening of 5 May 1965 a tornado tore through the town, on a diagonal from southwest to northeast, leaving a path of destruction, but fortunately not taking any lives.  Beginning in Iowa, just south of Canton, Minnesota, the tornado left a trail of  destruction across Fillmore, Houston and Winona counties and in its dying gasp touched down at Brice's Prairie, Wisconsin.  Destroyed or made unusable were barns houses and outbuildings that were essential to farming operations.  Wooded areas in the path were a twisted, jumbled area of trees that were almost impossible to penetrate.

Farms in the area hit by the tornado were: Almer Flattum, Vincent W. Poppe, Aldis K. Gordon, Nels and Leon Nelson, Michael and Charles Kelly, Freddie Peterson, Vernon Gydal, Edna and Corlyn Forsyth, Arthur D. Witt, Norman Peterson, and Mayme Forsyth, and the Lower Looney Valley brick schoolhouse.

Those who went through the ordeal were forced to make major decisions about their operations.  Some chose to sell, some to change to an alternative type of farm operation and some to rebuild as they had been.

The town in 1982 is primarily rural, a mixture of farming as the primary source of income and individuals who prefer country life.  There is some urban development on the perimeter of the Houston city limits.

Submitted by Mason A. Witt


1860 Houston Index




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Early Settler Surnames

  • Looney

  • McSpadden