Students' Projects Period 8



The history of Houston was recorded in two earlier publications.First there was The Story of Houston, which was written by Betty Dungate and Nancy Goold in the early 1950's as a Houston Woman's Institute project. This first history was greatly expanded and published as a 1971 Centennial project entitled Marks on the Forest Floor by a committee headed by Elnora Smith,who was assisted by Betty Dungate,Nancy Goold,and Margaret Morse.We pay tribute to Elnora and her comittee. Without their work most of Houston's history would not be available to us today.



we do not know when the first man traversed this particular area.We do believe that indian tribes inhabited the area for centuries,perhaps not in the immediate vicinty of Houston,but over the hills and in the neighboring valleys,and we are certain that they were here for a very long time before the white man came.

in identifying the origin of our Indian ancestry we accept the authorities of Farther A.G.Morice,Father Coccola, and Father Godfrey.These priests worked closely with the native people thoughout the lenth of this region,and all of them passed through here at one time or another.

The native people had no written records,and much of their history seems to have been lost,although some stories linger,passed on in the oral tradition from one generation to the next.

our native people belonged to the large class of Wet'suwet'en Indians who occupied this great noth central region.Two tribes,the "Babines" and the "Carriers" were common to this particular area,inhabiting the Bulkley Valley from Moricetown to the source of the Bulkley River and across to Babine Lake and beyond.The origins of the tribal names are well-known legends."Babines" means "people of big lips', these native in their early history having worn labrets in their lower lips.Father Morice in his book The History of the Northern Interior of B.C. traces the name "Carrier" to the facts that the widow of a deceased worrior would pick up from among the ashes of the funeral pyre the few charred bones that remained and carry them in a satchel on her back.However,the local natives say that in this area,the bodies of the dead were not burned and this tradition may not hold true for all Carriers.In the earlt days these Indians led a nomadic life along the rivers and the lakes.They depended on the salmon crops,hunted wild game,and generally lives off the land.

It is not thought that these tribes ventured far into the centres of the great forests that covered the land but preferred to stay close to the waterways and shores of the many lakes and rivers.Fish was therefore their staple diet.The native population was most friendly to the early european settlers of this valley ,sharing thier food and shelter with them, and treating them as guests of honor.

Matthew and Rosie Sam

Proir to the 1920's,the names of johnny and Marian David and Matthew and Rosia Sam were very familiar to folk in the North Bulkley and Houston area.They had small cabins and tents to live in, and lived chiefly from the land by fishing and hunting,and pickinng the many wild berries which always seemed to be in abundance.They would trap during the winter months, and woulld travel to the distant stores for supplies and to sell or trade their furs. Mr. and Mrs. Sam raised a family in those days and eventually moved to Topley.Mabel Sam still lives in Topley where she raised her three children.

Bill Nye

Another well-known figure who lived on a farm west of Houston, and for whom a small lake was named, was Bill Nye.He was a chief of great renown, and was a most stately sight when dressed in all his regelia.He was a farther figure to many of the younger people, and there were many who sought his advice. The Nyes were familiar around Houston and became well known as they peddled their berries and fish from door to door.All they asked for a four gallon coal oil can full of freshly picked berries was $2.50, although in the 1940's they raised the price to $5.Bill Nyeeventually lost his eyesight, but with the help of Patrick Pierre, who was known as "Bill Nye's eyes,He and his wife Nellie ran an indian camp at 80 mile, which was in the Hungry Hill area , and so named because it was 80 miles from Hazelton.Living near the Nyes was Author Charlie,who had married a daughter of Bill Nye's,and whose daughters, in later years, married Steve and Charlie,sons of Mr. and Mrs. Round Lake Tom. Bill Nye passed away in the spring of 1944.Afew months later, in July, his wife disappeard. Jack Joseph, Chief of the Smithers Indians, led a search party which was successful in finding the nearly blind indian woman. The 75-year-old woman had been missing for over two days when she was finally discovered, but suffered no ill effects other than hunger as a result of her stay in the woods.

Houston Tommy

Houston Tommy is a name well-known even today. Houston Tommy and his family walked into this country from Bella Coola just after the turn of the century.The trip took several years to complete, and they encountered many hardships and lost several children on the way. Tommy was a highly respected citizen, and many remember his as a reliable weather prophet. He was so trustworthy, its is said, that once found a wallet containing over $4,000 and returned it to its owner. The Tommy family lived near the original grocery store of John Goold, where the Houston A&W is now located. At one time there was a large Indian camp near this site, remembered by early pioneers because of the howling of the many dogs that were kept tied up in the encampment. {The early natives used dog-teams.} Houston Tommy's daughter,Sarah, later became the wife of Matt Michell.