About the Author: Why is a Vella researching the Houghtons
By Charles J Vella, PhD, 2021 ©
How is it that an immigrant from the island of Malta ended up compiling the largest Houghton surname database? I was born on the island of Malta and immigrated to San Francisco, CA, in 1950. I proudly graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1977 with a PhD in Psychology. I am now a retired neuropsychologist who got his first IBM PC in 1982 in order to create neuropsychological test scoring programs. My wife Marilyn Uran's great grandmother was Lydia May Houghton of the Ralph Houghton line of Lancaster, MA. Her daughter Imogene Morgan wrote a 500 page Houghton genealogy of her family in 1954; I read it soon after I got my computer. Her book lead me to John Wesley Houghton's published 1912 Houghton genealogy, the first major Houghton genealogy and to Marshall McClanahan's 1957 two typed Houghton genealogy manuscripts. But these books had no source citations and had been criticized for errors. I got myself a simple genealogy program and entered everything from four these volumes into the Houghton database. I then realized I needed source citations, so I started inputting all of the New England vital records that referenced the Houghton Surname at Sutro Library in San Francisco. Many hours on microfiche research. I then decided to do all of the US census data for every reference to Houghton and Haughton head of households and family members (this only took 12 years!), but Ancestry.com had arrived by then. I created the Houghton Surname Project Website in 1999. I use the Master Genealogist as my genealogy program and Second Site as my website creation program. As for those citatiation, the Project now has 118,000 individuals with 295,000 events and 557,000 citations. A well sourced genealogy. So that is how a Maltese immigrant who is a neuropsychologist and a computer nerd ended up compiling the Houghton Surname Project, the largest Houghton source in the world. It is much more difficult to do my Maltese genealogy which is mainly in Latin in church records. I also loved being a clinical neuropsychologist at Kaiser Permanente Hosptial for 35 years and carving pumpkins on Halloween.