Frank L. Houx was born on December 12, 1854 near Lexington, Missouri. He attended business college in Kansas City and was involved in various commercial activities from his mid-teens to mid-20s. Houx married Augusta Camp in 1875, a union which would produce four children; Carrie Pearl, Horace, Earl and Florence.
In 1885, Houx took his family to Montana where he made a living in the cattle business for ten years. The fledgling settlement of Cody, Wyoming then beckoned and the family relocated again. Shortly thereafter Houx purchased the stage depot at nearby Corbett. Augusta died the following year and Houx returned to Cody, where he made a living in real estate and the insurance business. In 1898, he married widow Ida Mason Christy. Three more girls would be added to the Houx family; Vera, Mercedes and Thora.
Houx was elected Cody’s first mayor after the town was incorporated in 1901. He was re-elected in 1905 and served four more years. Seeking a bigger public service role, Houx ran for the office of Wyoming’s Secretary of State in 1910, representing the Democratic Party. With recently converted Democrat Joseph M. Carey easily winning the gubernatorial race, Houx narrowly defeated incumbent Secretary William R. Schnitger. He won another close race for the same office in 1914, as Wyoming voters elected another Democratic governor, John B. Kendrick. When Kendrick was elected to the U.S. Senate two years later, Houx completed Kendrick’s term as Acting Governor. However, rather than turn the executive office immediately over to Houx, Kendrick held onto the position until the state legislative session was over. This apparent lack of trust was used against Houx in the 1918 gubernatorial election, which he lost to Robert D. Carey, Joseph’s son.
The United States entered World War I shortly after Houx occupied the executive office. A spirit of patriotism filled the state, resulting in about 12,000 Wyoming men joining the military. Acting Governor Houx mobilized the Wyoming National Guard, which was offered to the United States for overseas service. He also appointed the Wyoming Council for National Defense.
Out of politics, Houx spent most of his later years in Texas where he engaged in the oil business. Ida Houx died in 1934 while visiting a daughter in California. Frank Houx returned to Cody the following year, residing with his daughter, Pearl Newell, until his death in 1941. He is buried in Cody.
The records of Acting Governor Houx at the Wyoming State Archives are distinctive for their World War I documentation. War related series include Council for the National Defense, Women’s War Work, Army Nurse Corps, Selective Service, American Red Cross, Conscription, and Appointments and Commissions. The collection also includes the routine records associated with the duties of a governor: Proclamations, appointments, pardons, extraditions, and correspondence.— Curtis Greubel, State Imaging Center Supervisor
1. UPDATE: Houx and Cody were, in fact, close friends, which would have made this extradition request very awkward indeed. According to Houx’s reminiscences published in the Cody Enterprise, he rushed to Denver upon hearing of Cody’s death in order to claim his body and transport it to Cody for burial, as per Cody’s wishes. Unfortunately, when he arrived he found that Mayor Speer of Denver had already taken charge of the body and made arrangements to bury him on Lookout Mountain.