A Dedicated Community Leader
Logan Espie Houston was born in Iredell County, North Carolina, in 1895. Both his father and his grandfather had been slaves on the Houston plantation in Mount Mourne. By 1910, Logan was living on Concord Road in Deweese Township (Mecklenburg County) with his parents, Beauregard and Alice Withers Houston. He was working as a farm laborer, having apparently dropped out of the Reed School, located near East Rocky River Road, to help support the family.
At the time he registered for the draft in June 1917, Logan Houston was supporting his mother and one brother by working as a farmer for W.R. Grey in Davidson. In August 1918, he was sent to Camp Green in North Carolina, ultimately serving in the American Expeditionary Forces and receiving the Victory Medal with one bronze star. In 1920, he was living on Coddle Creek Road in Deweese Township with his mother Alice and five siblings. Two years later, in 1922, he married Alice Torrence.
In 1930, Logan and Alice and their five children were living in a rented house on Johnston Street in Davidson, where he was working in an oil mill. He later worked at Thomas Moore Griffith’s dairy farm on South Main Street in Davidson, and still later at the Hoke Lumber Company. He also had a five-acre farm where he raised pigs and beef cattle. Alice supplemented the family’s income by taking in laundry and making and selling buttermilk. In all, Logan and Alice Houston had eleven children, nine of whom survived to adulthood.
Houston’s granddaughter, Brenda Tapia, recalled that, although he had to drop out of elementary school to help support his family, Logan Houston was a lifelong learner, and “never stopped getting an education.” Each day at lunchtime, everyone had to tell him something new they had learned that day. He promised each of his children that they would attend college for at least one year. Of the nine children, three finished college and two more had only a few hours to finish when they dropped out. He was very active in the Davidson United Presbyterian Church, where he was a ruling elder, superintendent of the Sunday school, and a member of the choir. In addition to leading the PTA at the Davidson Colored School, he was also president of the PTA at the Torrence-Lytle High School in Huntersville. While he was head of the PTA at the Davidson Colored School, he worked with teacher Ada Jenkins to raise the funds for what became the Ada Jenkins School, the original building of the present-day Ada Jenkins Center. Ruby Houston, another of Houston’s grandchildren, remembers that he was someone who motivated others to participate in church, local schools, and politics, and that he would drive people to vote in the back of his blue Ford truck. When Logan Houston died on November 25, 1969, the Mecklenburg Gazette praised him as a “dedicated leader” who was “involved in inter-community, inter-Denominational and interracial activities.”
Nancy Griffith lived in Davidson from 1979 until 1989. After a career as an archives and special collections librarian, she retired to Davidson in 2015. She has published a number of books and articles on local history, and has just completed a history of the Ada Jenkins Center.