Today is the birthday of Albert C. Houghton (April 13, 1844-August 11, 1914). He was born in Stamford, Vermont, the eldest of nine children. He also appears to have served as a private in the Massachusetts 16th Infantry, Company C during the Civil War. His father was Andrew Jackson Houghton, who founded the A.J. Houghton & Co. Brewery with John A. Kohl in 1870, in Boston, Massachusetts. Albert took over the brewery and was its president after his father died in 1892. It was also known as the Vienna Brewery at various points of its history, before closing for good in 1918 when Prohibition went into effect.
Here is his biography, from Wikipedia:
Albert Charles Houghton was born April 13, 1844 in Stamford, Vermont to James and Chloe Houghton. He was the youngest son in a family of nine children. Houghton married Cordelia J. Smith, of Stamford, Vermont in 1866. They had four children, all of whom studied in Germany.
Houghton died as a result of injuries five days after a car accident that also killed his daughter Mary and her friend Sybil Cady Hutton. The chauffeur, John Widders, killed himself the next morning.
Houghton was engaged in various business dealings. Before he was 21, he founded the Houghton Chemical Works of Stamford with his brother J.R. Houghton. By 1868, he was doing work in real estate and operating the Parker Mill in North Adams, Massachusetts. Houghton and his family moved to North Adams permanently in 1870.
Houghton owned the North Pownal Manufacturing Company in North Pownal, Vermont. He became president of the Arnold Print Works in 1881. He was president and owner of the A.J. Houghton Brewing Company of Boston, upon the death of founder A.J. Houghton in 1892. In 1877, he bought the Williamstown Manufacturing Company. In 1878 he bought the Eclipse Mill and Beaver Mill, both cotton manufacturing mills. In 1895 he became director of the Boston & Albany Railroad. He was also a trustee of Williams College, and sat on the boards of various banks. Five days prior to his death in 1914, Houghton purchased the Mausert Block.
In 1868, Houghton was a member of the state legislature in Vermont, representing his hometown of Searsburg. When North Adams was incorporated as a city in 1895, Mr. Houghton was nominated by “all parties” and elected its first mayor.
And this account is from Ghost Adventures Wiki:
Albert Charles Houghton, born 1844 in nearby Vermont, made his fortune as president of Arnold Printworks, the largest employer in North Adams. He was elected the town’s first mayor in 1896, and the Houghton Mansion was built for his family.
On August 1st, 1914, Mr. Houghton and his daughter Mary Houghton decided to go to Bennington for a pleasure drive in a brand-new Pierce-Arrow touring car, driven by the family’s longtime chauffeur John Widders and accompanied by a doctor, Mrs. Hutton from New York. About 9:30AM, they came up what is now Oak Hill Road and came across a team of horses parked on the right side of the road. Widders turned the car left around it, but the engine started to race at a shoulder bend and the car toppled down a hillside, rolling over three times until it came to rest in an upright position in a farmer’s field. Mr. Houghton and Widders escaped with minor injuries, but Mrs. Hutton was killed instantly and Mary Houghton died of her injuries at 3:00PM.
Mr. Houghton, heartbroken over the death of his daughter, died in the mansion 10 days after the accident.
So why was Houghton’s biography on a Ghost Adventures website? Well, that’s more fully explained in yet another website article with the provocative title “Photo Tour: Investigate the haunted, historic Houghton Mansion in North Adams, Mass.” There’s also quite a few photos of the Houghton mansion there, too.
On August 1st, 1914 Widders was driving A.C. Houghton, his daughter Mary and a family friend, Sybil Hutton to Vermont. They came upon a road crew on a mountain road, so Widders swerved to the edge of the road to avoid them. The vehicle hit a soft shoulder and rolled down a steep embankment, flipping over 3 times.
Sybil died at the scene and Mary Houghton died enroute to the hospital. Both John Widders and A.C. Houghton suffered minor injuries. The next day, in the early morning hours, John Widders was found dead in the barn behind the mansion. He had committed suicide by shooting himself with a horse pistol, unable to forgive himself for the accident that he felt was his fault. Albert Houghton died just 9 days later, some say of a broken heart.
The tragic accident and subsequent suicide have had a deep and lasting effect on the property at 172 Church Street in North Adams. It is said to this day that the home is still occupied by the spirits of A.C. Houghton and his daughter Mary. Mary is usually seen on the upper-floors of the mansion, while Albert still enjoys the run of the beautiful, historic home. The tragic John Widders is also said to be seen, in the form of shadows throughout the property.
The property was eventually sold to the Masons in 1920. They soon erected a huge Masonic Temple at the rear of the house. The mansion is still in use as a Masonic Temple today and is maintained by the Lafayette Graylock Masonic Lodge A.F. & A.M. and the Naomi Chapter of the Eastern Star — non-profit associations that support many charitable organizations.