Theodore G. Houk was born in 1833 in Seneca County, Ohio.
Theodore left Ohio and moved west, eventually settling in western Michigan where by 1860 he was a carpenter working for and/or living with William Mantherson (whose children had all been born in Ohio) in Gaines, Kent County.
Theodore stood 6’2” with black eyes and hair and a dark complexion, and was 27 years old and still residing in Kent County when he enlisted in Company A on May 13, 1861. He was reported absent sick from November 1, 1862, through until March of 1863, and from April 16 through October of 1863. He reenlisted as a Corporal on December 24, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Grand Rapids, was subsequently absent on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864 and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February.
Theodore was wounded in the left hand on June 6, 1864, at or near Cold Harbor, Virginia, and June 8 admitted to Finley general hospital in Washington, DC, for a gunshot wound of “3rd phalanx of 3rd finger of left hand.” He was still absent wounded when he was transferred to Company A, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and remained absent wounded through June of 1865. Houk was given a furlough from the hospital and returned to Grand Rapids about the first September of 1864, and, it was observed by a reporter for the Grand Rapids Eagle, “like nearly all other soldiers who have returned from the front, wears the Lincoln Badge and is out and out for the reelection of honest Old Abe.”
Theodore remained in Michigan for nearly a month, but by early October was back in Virginia. On October 11, from Slough Barracks in Alexandria, Houk wrote a friend back in Grand Rapids, discussing the upcoming presidential election. The Grand Rapids Eagle, which reprinted the letter on October 25, described Houk as “a realistic veteran, who had served in the Army of the Potomac 3 years and 4 months, at the date of his letter. Corporal Houk is a very intelligent man, a resident -- when at home -- of the Township of Gaines, in this County and is now suffering from a wound received at the battle of Cold Harbor” the previous June.
“My dear friend, [Houk wrote] I arrived here last Friday evening, and write you as early as possible, because I want a letter from you. My hand is swollen yet and quite stiff. My ride from Grand Rapids was attended with the usual amount of excitement. 2 votes were taken on the cars, during my ride; one east of Ionia gave Lincoln 63, and McClellan 21; another taken in Ohio gave Lincoln 70, and McClellan 41. I suppose politics are running high with you at the present time. I feel confident that there is too much patriotism in the American people, to elect a man president who would compromise with rebels and barter away the honor of a great Nation.
“McClellan lacked the ability to command the Army of the Potomac successfully. -- Can they expect him to attend to the affairs of the whole Nation? No! Certainly not.
“Are men so tired of the war that they would purchase peace at the expense of National honor? No! I will not believe it. But we must not sit down in conscious strength, for our enemies will move heaven and earth to defeat us. They have insulted the mothers, wives, sisters and children of those who are in the army, and now seek us to vote for their candidate -- to be our Commander-in-Chief. Oh, infamous slanderers! Can they have so small an estimation of our manhood? They have a load of guilt to carry; just heaven and posterity will both curse them.
“Their platform is an insult to the army, a disgrace to the Nation, and a nuisance to literature.
“I do hope you will work hard, for I candidly believe that the destiny of this Nation will be decided at the coming election. If Lincoln is elected all will be well; if McC. is elected rebellion will succeed. I say to all with whom I converse on the subject, don't trust the integrity of the Nation in the hands of Geo. B. McClellan.
“But I will close with 3 cheers for Lincoln. Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!”
Theodore may have been transferred to the Veteran’s Reserve Corps before he was discharged on August 30, 1865, at Slough’s hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, for “amputation [of] 3rd finger left hand with contraction of remaining ones, following gunshot wound received in action.”
In any case, after his release from the army Theodore returned to western Michigan and was working as a farmer in Gaines when he married Ohio native Lucella”Celia” E. Allen (b. 1852) on June 14 or 18, 1868, in Kent County. Houk and his wife had at least two children: Juliette (b. 1869) and Allen Cob-moo-sa (b. 1875).
By 1870 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and daughter in Gaines but had settled in Oceana County in 1873, and was supervisor of Elbridge in Oceana County from 1874 to 1880. He was farming and living with his wife and children in Elbridge in 1880.
He was living in Elbridge when he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association in December of 1889.
Theodore was also a member of Grand Army of the Republic Hooker Post No. 26 in Hart, Oceana County. In 1890 he applied for and received a pension (no. 794628).
He was still residing in Elbridge in 1890 and in 1894 and indeed, he probably lived in Elbridge the rest of his life, and he served several years as a Township supervisor and once as representative from Elbridge to the state house of representatives.
Theodore died in Elbridge on February 11, 1904, and was buried in the Elbridge cemetery.
His widow applied for and received a pension (no. 596666).