Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

February 27, 2013

Huston’s link to Decatur County

Pat Smith
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — I’ve written before about movie producer, playwright, actor and your basically talented person John Huston living in Greensburg for a year.

His grandmother Adelia Gore lived here several years from about 1926 until 1934. Some residents of Decatur County, now long deceased, told me their memories of Mrs. Gore, her ill-mannered monkey, her cussin’ parrot and other great memories they had of the interesting Adelia Gore.

Residents remembered seeing John Huston sitting in a coffee shop in Greensburg just reading and/or writing while visiting his relatives here. He wouldn’t become famous for a few years but when he did he did it in a big way.

Not long ago, Russell Wilhoit shared a copy of a clipping he’d found in a July 1944 Greensburg Daily News. The clipping’s headline states, “MRS. GORE, 89, PASSES IN WEST. – Former Greensburg Resident Dies at Los Angles – Grandmother of John Huston.” It goes on to state that Mrs. Adelia Gore‘s nephew William B. Porter who lived in Cincinnati had notified the Greensburg newspaper and stated that Mrs. Gore’s grandson, John Huston, was at the time serving in the armed forces.

The news story told how Mrs. Gore was a native of Ohio and daughter of Col. William Richardson who had lived in Marietta, Ohio. Richardson, a graduate of Washington College, became a teacher, served in the Mexican-American War, then served as prosecuting attorney of Monroe County, Ohio. When the Civil War started he enlisted in the 25th Ohio Infantry and within a couple of years was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and then Colonel. He was wounded in 1863 at the Battle of Chancellorsville and lost the use of his right arm.

After being honorably discharged from the Army, he was elected Ohio Attorney General, was Brevetted Brigadier General in 1864, then became commander of the Camp Chase military prison in Columbus. He died in New Castle, in 1866 and was buried in Ohio.

His granddaughter Rhea became the mother of John Huston and John Huston’s daughter is Anjelica Huston and her half-brother is actor Danny Huston. Anjelica was also granddaughter of the famous actor Walter Huston, father of John. Walter Huston won the Academy Award for the best supporting actor in the 1948 film, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Humphrey Bogart was a lead in the film and John Huston directed it.

The news story of her death states that Adelia Gore had lived in Greensburg for more than six years, that she left here in about 1934 to live in New York and later in California. “She will be remembered by many Greensburg people.”

Now you must be wondering how on earth Adelia came to live in Greensburg at all. Well here’s how that came about: she had a sister who had married Alexander Porter owner of the well-known Pulse & Porter lumber yard and building contractors here in Greensburg (from one of the early families in the county). Adelia Gore had also been back to visit her sister in 1942, two years before her death in 1944.

There’s no doubt that the family members were individualists. Adelia, for example, had worked as a member of the Cincinnati police force and later worked as a private detective in Cincinnati and St. Paul, Minn. - an unusual occupation for a woman then. She married and had daughter Rhea who married Walter Huston, actor of stage and movies. Rhea died in 1938 not long after her mother Adelia had moved to California. John, her son and Adelia’s grandson, died in 1987 and is buried by his mother.

The point of this story is - some years ago Ken Kercheval visited Greensburg and Decatur County where his grandparents had lived. His grandfather was a physician here. Kercheval was popular at the time for his role in the television program, “Dallas.” He spent at least a day here and was wined and dined and appeared to have enjoyed it. He got to see the home that his ancestors had owned and left with a few things associated with his ancestors’ era.

Wouldn’t it be fun and interesting if Anjelica or Danny Huston, third generation of their family to win an Oscar, came here for a couple of days to see where her great aunt and uncle lived, where her grandmother lived for a few years and their father spent a year? She could see houses and buildings the Porter family built, the home her grandmother lived in and all of the things that would surely appeal to her? I think that educator John Pratt and Executive Director of Decatur County Chamber of Commerce Jeff Emsweller might want work together and get that project done.