Bertha Huston was born on Nov. 26, 1871 in Spring Hill, Johnson County, KS, the daughter and eldest of seven children of Boyd W. and Clara (Barnhouse) Huston. She was born the year the family migrated to Kansas from Vanderbilt, Fayette County, PA.
At the age of seven, Bertha and her parents and siblings moved from Spring Hill to a farm near Olathe, in the Fairview School neighborhood of Johnson County. She attended and completed her education in the Fairview School, and was a longtime and "faithful" member of the Presbyterian Church at Olathe, said a newspaper.
The farm was about 20 miles southwest of Kansas City. Over the years, the site has carried the post office address of Lenexa, then Olathe, and now Overland Park.
The Johnson County Democrat said that Bertha "was a lover of flowers and was a grower of all types, and when the growing season was with us, it was a regular habit of hers to bring a large bouquet of her best to the Sunday church services. She was a member of the Morse W.C.T.U. and the Oxford Homemakers unit of the [Women's] Farm Bureau. She has been an exhibitor in the fairs of this county for the past thirty years, and has over two hundred first and second awards in the food departments of these fairs."
Bertha remained on their Fairview School farm for the rest of her life, but never married. She was a homemaker for her parents and later her mother in widowhood, and for her bachelor brothers Frank and Harry Huston who also remained on the home farm in adulthood. Said the Democrat, "She was a devoted sister and daughter. Always cheerfully doing what she could both at home and in the life of the community for the comfort and welfare of others."
The 1920 federal census shows Bertha as age 48 and single, living with her brother Frank and their widowed mother.
In the early 1940s, when Bertha was in her early 70s, her health began to decline. She was treated in the St. Mary Hospital in Kansas City, MO. Sadly, she died in the hospital on Jan. 14, 1944, at the age of 73.
Bertha was laid to rest in the Huston family plot in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery near Stanley, Johnson County. The Democrat published a lengthy and informative obituary which has provided much of our knowledge about Bertha and her life.
Because Bertha did not leave a will, she was considered "intestate." That meant that her real and personal property assets automatically descended to her living siblings and the children of her deceased siblings. This included the family farm as well as $2,038.66 in savings and checking accounts at the First National Bank of Olathe and a savings certificate at the First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Olathe.
The matter further was complicated by the fact that Bertha herself was an heir of the estate of her late mother, who also had died intestate, and whose estate had never been properly administered and accounted for. To determine the correct descent of assets so they could be properly divided, Bertha's brother Frank filed a petition in Probate Court, with a county judge making a final determination.
Bertha's obituary was located during a September 2010 research visit to the Johnson County Central Resource Library in Overland Park.
Copyright © 2010, 2017 Mark A. Miner