"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

While browsing through the old newspapers, I came upon a story that sounded like the opening of a Hitchcock film. From the "San Francisco Call" for July 31, 1906:

Seattle, July 30.--Mrs. Addie Houghton last night shot an unknown man who had been annoying her for a fortnight and who finally attempted to force an entrance to her home at Ballard. The intruder was evidently shot in the arm, but managed to get away and the police have not yet been able to find him. The woman's husband is a wealthy logger and is away most of the time.

Realizing that the police may not capture her unbidden guest, Mrs. Houghton fears that the fellow may return to do her harm, and she declares:

"I will shoot him good next time."

If he is arrested the plucky young woman will prosecute him. She wants satisfaction for the two weeks of terror she suffered.

The "Call" had a chilling sequel to this story on August 30:

Seattle, Aug. 29.--Mrs. Addie Houghton who shot at a midnight intruder on two occasions at her home in Ballard, since hitting her man, who left a trail of blood in his flight, is missing.

It was during the absences of her husband, who operates a saw mill at Brinnon, Wash., that Mrs. Houghton was twice within the last month compelled to shoot to drive away an unknown man from her home at night. After the second attempt, the husband, Willard Houghton, decided to move his little family to Brinnon and a week ago purchased a home there and gave his wife sufficient money to move. He then returned to the mill.

On Thursday last, after her household effects had been packed, Mrs. Houghton sent her children to a neighbor's house to remain until she secured a drayman. She then left her home and has not been seen since. The disappearance has been reported to the police, but detectives are unable to get any trace of the woman.

James Houghton, a brother of Willard, who is a retired capitalist here, went to Brinnon today to notify the husband.

It seemed like I had found quite the sinister little mystery, so I was puzzled that I could not find any more information about Mrs. Houghton's disappearance. Finally, after a bit of digging, I came across a small item in the "Seattle Times" for November 1, 1907:

Judge John B. Yakey has signed a decree divorcing Willard Houghton from Addie Houghton. Both are residents of Bullard. The plaintiff alleged that his wife deserted him and their two children. She contended that her husband hired men to annoy her.

Earlier issues of the "Seattle Times" gave additional information about these ominous prowlers and Mrs. Houghton's disappearance. For some time Willard had wanted his wife and children to move to his lumber camp in Brinnon, but Addie disliked the idea. Mr. Houghton evidently could think of no better way to resolve the dispute than by paying men to scare her into relocating. Instead, the lady did a runner.

So, Mrs. Houghton's disappearance turned out to be no mystery, after all.

Still, I sure would like to know more about this couple. I suspect their life together must have been blog material gold.


  1. It reads as though someone could write a mystery book or movie from the first part of it, at least, leaving out the mundane domestic discord of the second. I'd like to know if the man hired to annoy Mrs Houghton thought he had been paid enough...

    1. I wondered about that. I presume he didn't anticipate that dodging bullets would be part of his job. I wonder what the going rate was for work like this?


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