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About The Artist
William Hughston (Houston) Forntner was born in Aurora, Missouri in 1908. His parents were Anderson H. and Louisa Fortner. His father died at the age of 57 in 1928. Hughston had three brothers and four sisters.
Even before some of the later KFH stars came together, they often worked together. Gage Brewer had an orchestra that included Lee (Corky) Edminster on piano, Dale Cook on drums and Houston played trumpet and bss. They worked with Brewer for a time at the Shadowland dance hall that was located south of Wichita on the old Lawrence Road. The venue burned down in March of 1936.
He was one of the original Ark Valley Boys when Andy Crockett came to the station in early 1939.
In a rare article that mentions the tunes sung by the KFH artists, the Masons held an event for the families of the Albert Pike Lodge No. 303 in October 1941. The event even included an appearance by Loie Bridges. Houston was a part of this troupe of entertainers.
In February 1945, Henry M. McClish passed away, a 60-year old painter and decorator. He was the father of Doris McClish who played the accordion with the Ark Valley Boys and on other KFH shows. Pallbearers included Vic (Puny) Hawkins, Vernon Reed, Houston Fortner, Claude Childers, Russell Lowe and Floyd Dalrymple.
A 1948 newspaper article recalls some bygone Chisholm Trail Jubilee where one of the contests was judging men by the beards they grew. It seems the Ark Valley Boys all participated. Cousin Snazzy took part and had a "lush two and five-eighths full beard and was the champion of the Ark Valley Boys. But Houston told the reporter, never again would he take part. He was quoted, "...About the only good thing that whiskers were for, it's a good way to get people to look at you."
A newspaper photo with an accompanying caption stated, "...'Neath western stars and in the best hillbilly tradition..." Houston married the former Opal Kaiser of McPherson, KS on top of the York Rite Building where the Saturday night barn dances were held. The ceremony took place on June 3, 1948. Research seems to indicate he was married more than once. No obituary was found.
Credits & Sources