|Mounted Photograph - Trimmed
8 15/16 Inches by 5 15/16 Inches
(22.7 cm x 15.2cm)
H. E. Williams - Photographer
Cassel Township, Shasta County, California, United States
Appearing the quintessential early 20th Century cowboy in this photograph portrait, Clarence “Doc” Houston posed for photographer H. E. Williams in Cassel Township in Shasta
County, California c. 1905.
Clarence Winters Houston was born on July 3, 1885 at Cleone, Mendocino County, California. His mother Hattie was from Maine as was his father Frank who supported his family as a
teamster/freighter. Clarence first appears in the United States Census of 1900 for Fall River, California. The family appears again in the 1910 for Burney Valley, also in Shasta County
minus Clarence who was apparently cowboying up Cassel way about this time. Towards the end of World War One Clarence registered for the draft on September 12, 1918. Far too late
to be drafted we none the less learn that he was still working around cows since he listed himself on the draft registration form as a self-employed dairyman in McArthur, California a
small ranching community about four miles east of Fall River. He also lists his next of kin as Elsie Houston.
In the 1920 Census for Fall River the now married Clarence turns up now operating a general farm. Houston married Elsie Horr around 1918 and by 1920 they had one daughter Emma.
“Doc” had changed trades by 1930 when he was now employed at Squaw Valley working as a heavy equipment operator constructing railroads for the bourgeoning Northern California
lumber industry. Such skilled labor was very well paying and Doc was still at it on the eve of World War II when in 1940 Census for Squaw Valley he is listed as a caterpillar operator in
the logging industry. On April 25, 1942 the 56 year old Doc registered once more for the draft. His vital work in the lumber industry would have exempted him from military service even
if his age had not precluded him from military service.
Possibly after retirement Doc and Elise Houston appear to have moved to Medford, Oregon. Doc passed away there on October 17, 1954 at the age of 69. Elsie passed away in 1966
and is buried by Doc’s side at the Siskiyou Memorial Park in Medford.
A stated above, Doc appears dressed in this photograph as the epitome of a cowboy from the early 20th Century. The records show he was no mere poser as is often the case with
“cowboy” photographs from this era. On his head he wears a relatively narrow brimmed hat cocked slightly to one side. Over is plain white shirt he wears a silk bandana or kerchief
(generally known today as a wild rag), a lapelled vest and long leather roping cuffs. Tucked into his waistband are his fringed and horseshoe embroidered cavalry style gauntlets. His
trousers are protected by leather “shotgun” style chaps.
Note: I have been unable to determine exactly how Clarence Houston acquired the nick name of “Doc”. The name must have been one held with great affection by both Clarence and
his family as it appears in quotes above his full name on his bronze memorial marker.