Robert D. Houp: Jessamine
Soldier's Life Defined By Conflict
By Jason Brock - 2012
It sometimes seems that my fourth great-grandfather's life was defined by conflict. He came into the world four months after the start of the Mexican War and left it two months after our entry into WWII. He was known around Wilmore and High Bridge as "Uncle Robert," the old veteran with a cane who had been a boy soldier during the Civil War. I don't imagine he minded the distinction. No doubt he felt fortunate to have lived to be an old veteran with only a limp and a few bad memories to show for it.
Robert D. Houp was at High Bridge in Jessamine County, Kentucky, in June 1938, when this photo was taken. He was probably on his way to the Gettysburg Reunion on the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania. The year 1938 was the 75th anniversary of that battle.
The Houp family gathered at High Bridge, Jessamine County, Kentucky, on August 30, 1936, in honor of Robert's birthday. Front row, l-r: Lena Houp Swim, Claude Houp, Robert D. Houp, Mary Woods Brown Houp, and Mary Jane Rue Houp. Back row, l-r: Willis Houp, Charles Oliver Houp, Henry Houp, Flemon Houp, and George Wesley Houp. (Photo courtesy of Jason Brock.)
In January 1864 the Eighth Kentucky was reduced to battalion size, Companies D and K combining to form the new Company D. They mostly did garrison duty in Tennessee and fought in the opening stages of the Atlanta Campaign at Rocky Face Ridge, Georgia. On November 17, 1864, the men who chose to serve out their three-year enlistments were mustered out, and those who reenlisted for the duration of the war were placed in the Fourth Kentucky Mounted Infantry. Robert was in the former group, deciding to take his discharge and head home, a seasoned veteran at 18. During the course of the war, the Eighth Kentucky lost four officers and 56 men killed and mortally wounded, and one officer and 144 men to disease. One of the men who decided to reenlist was Robert's cousin, Benjamin Houp. He was captured in Alabama toward the end of the war and was one of around 1,600 released prisoners killed on the steamboat Sultana when its boilers exploded near Memphis on April 27, 1865.
This is a five-generation photo of the family of Jason Brock, the author of the accompanying article, from his fourth great-grandfather to his grandmother. Shown in the photo are Robert D. Houp (1846-1942) seated on the bench in the center of the photo, George W. Houp (1865-1937) visible above man seated on right side of bench, Ollie Houp Shylock (1888-1964) far right with hands on hips with face obscured, Geneva Shyrock Million (1912-1980) seated on left of bench third left of Robert, and Maxine Million Byrd (1929) second in front of her mother in front of girl with hat. Others in the photo (not in order) are Lena Houp Swim, Claude Houp, Mary Houp, Mary Jane Rue Houp, Willis Houp, Charles Houp, Henry Houp, Glemon Houp, Betty West Carroll, Leona Shyrock Hart, Grace Houp Johnson, Raymond Houp, Myrtle Houp Morgan, Lydia May Houp Horn, Raymond Houp (Jr.), Jimmy Land, Beatrice Houp Woods, Mary Emma Shyrock Underwood, Virgil Underwood, and Jimmy Underwood. The photo was taken at High Bridge Park, Jessamine County, Kentucky, on August 30, 1936. The occasion was Robert Houp's 90th birthday. (Photo courtesy of Jason Brock.)
In his later years, Robert was active in attending veteran's reunions, the largest being the one at Gettysburg in July 1938, the 75th anniversary of the battle. At the age of nearly 92, he braved the Southern Pennsylvania heat and humidity to be one of 1,845 veterans from across the country to attend. The Kentucky contingent was represented by 28 old soldiers. One of the attendees was Asberry Estes of Lee County, an old comrade from the Eighth Kentucky and an uncle by marriage of Robert's son, George. Two years later, he went to the movies and saw Gone with the Wind. He considered it pretty accurate. By that time, he was the only man living in the county who could have said so based on actual experiences.
Sources: The Houp/Houpe/Houpt/Haupt Family Historian Quarterly, April 1985, by Kenneth L. Houp; Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. 3, Robert Underwood Johnson and Clarence Clough Buel, editors, 1995; History of the Eighth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Regiment During Its Three Year Campaigns, T. J. Wright. the Estill county Hisotrical and Genelogicial Society, reprinted 1996.
Jason Brock, 108 East Avenue, Wilmore, KY 40390; [email protected], shares this article with our readers.