Transcribed from the Wellsville Daily Reporter by Crist Middaugh.
By Becky Sutton
Houghton - What was once considered an “evil” village is now one of the most religious places in the area.
Houghton as settled in 1817, and was named after its founder, Luther Houghton, according to Larry Wilson, Caneadea town Historian.
Until the 1880s, the village was known as Houghton Creek. From 1851-1876, which Wilson refers to as the “canal years,” Houghton had a somewhat undesirable reputation.
“Houghton was a lively stop on the Genesee Valley Canal, and was known as “Jockey Street,” Wilson said, because there was a mile-long strip of roadway that was perfect for racing horses. “Gambling on horse races was a popular recreation for ‘boatmen’.”
Also at that time, numerous taverns lined the village which today does not permit the selling of alcoholic beverages.
“Many residents decided to work to make Houghton as well known good as it had been for evil,” Wilson said. Once of those residents was Willard J. Houghton.
“His belief was that one’s faith led to good works.”
There were several people involved in the founding of Houghton College in 1883, Wilson said. “The major figure was Willard Houghton.” He noted that Houghton was chiefly responsible for obtaining support from the Wesleyan Methodist Church to build a seminary in Houghton.
“Then Houghton secured the cooperation of the Genesee Conference of the Methodist Church for sponsoring a college.
“They were attempting to upgrade the academic standing of the institution. The first actual degree was issued in 1925 accredited to the college,” Wilson said.
Today, the liberal arts institution boasts an enrollment of more than 1,200 students, “along with an excellent faculty and growing campuses,” Wilson said. It operates under the auspices of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, and is a fully accredited liberal arts school.
The four-year Christian private college offers 30 majors and 10 programs,” according to a spokesperson form Houghton College. The programs, she explained, are run in conjunction with other colleges to help students earn their degree, and include pre-engineering and pre-nursing. The students do part of their academic studies at Houghton, and then complete their degree in anther school.
The spokesperson also noted that Houghton College is represented in many prestigious college publications, which many students look to when they are looking for a college.
Houghton is the largest of three villages that make up the Town of Caneadea, along with Caneadea itself and Oramel.
“As a community, Houghton is well known for its cultural commitment, dedication to academic excellence, and religious devotion,” Wilson said.
“Houghton has a post office, stores, businesses, several old Victorian homes, and dozens of new and modern residences,” Wilson said “And the beautiful brick Wesleyan Methodist Church has a prominent position Houghton’s Main Street.”