Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Highly Accomplished Family of William Ficklin Howe

The best way to begin the story of Sarah's father's brother William – the first-born son of John and Sarah Brown Howe – is to start at the end. This obituary appeared in the Madison (Indiana) Weekly Herald on June 1, 1916. The photo is in one of Sarah's scrapbooks.

Merchant of Carrollton, Died Suddenly
Frequently Visited Madison and Had Many Friends Here
Carrollton, Ky., May 22 – William Ficklin Howe died suddenly this afternoon. He attended the Methodist Sunday school yesterday, taught his class of young men and was in his pew at the morning and evening services. He had been in declining health for more than a year.
Mr. Howe was born in Ireland April 18, 1846, and came to Kentucky with his parents, the late John Howe and Mrs. Sarah Howe when 2 years old. For many years he was in the banking and mercantile business with his father under the firm name of John Howe & Son. Later he developed the wool industry in this county and was largely engaged in the manufacture of woolen suitings.

After the death of his father the store was reorganized, the firm name being Howe Bros., and Mr. Howe was made secretary and treasurer, which position he held at the time of his death. In all the movements for the betterment of Carrollton he was an active worker, and gave freely of his time and means to every call.

He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Lou Winslow Howe, and five children: John J. Howe, Commonwealth's Attorney for this district; Beverly W. Howe, a lawyer of Chicago; Miss Lillie Howe, who is now in Havana, Cuba; Miss Jennie Howe and Mrs. Henry Berg Schuerman, of Carrollton; a brother, Joseph B. Howe, and a sister, Mrs. J. M. Froman.

Why was his daughter Lillie in Cuba? That's definitely a point to research one of these days.

The obituary makes no mention of William's service on the Carrollton City Council or his term as Carroll County treasurer, but those roles are mentioned on Page 238 of History of Kentucky by Connelley and Coulter, accessible on Google Books. 

Links within the obituary will tell you more about William and the Howe businesses. Today, let's get to know a little about his wife and children. Sarah's references to them by name are in previous – and likely future – posts. For now, here are some brief profiles.

William's Wife: Louisiana "Lou" Winslow Howe

Louisiana Winslow Howe, 1852-1944
Lou was born 27 May 1852 in Carroll County, Kentucky, and died there 26 August 1944. Her father was William Beverly Winslow, born 10 June 1814 in Carrollton, Kentucky [1]; died there 16 March 1883.[1] Her mother was Martha Jane Woolfork, born 26 January 1826 in Henry County, Kentucky; died in Carrollton 25 November 1905.[1]

Lou grew up with eight siblings: Henry, James, Mariam, Jennie, William B., Ruth, George, and Pierce. Of the five brothers, three (Henry, William B., and George B.) followed in their father's footsteps; all became influential attorneys – Henry in Tennessee, William in New York City, and George in practice with his father in Carrollton. Lou's sister Mariam married a banker who held interest in a manufacturing plant. I'm still looking for information about James, Pierce, and Ruth, and all I know so far about Jennie is her husband's name: W.W. Martin.

Lou married William in Carrollton on 8 October 1873. I know of six children born to them – sons Winslow B., Beverly Winslow, and John J., and daughters Lille M., Jenne Winslow, and Ruth Louise. (Note the determination to bequeath the locally prominent name of Winslow to so many children in this family.)

I don't have much life story about Lou yet, but I learned from the scrapbooks and from other researchers that she was an avid reader and a leader in the Carrollton Methodist Episcopal Church.

The First-Born Child: Winslow B. Howe

Winslow was born 9 October 1875 in Kentucky (I'm betting Carrollton) and died 30 July 1882 at the age of 6. Because he died before Sarah was born, she has (so far) said little about him in the scrapbooks. My speculation: The middle initial B may stand for Brown, the maiden name of his paternal grandmother.

The Eldest Daughter: Lillie M. Howe

Lillie (sometimes spelled Lille) was born 3 November 1877. Sarah mentions her cousin Lillie often in the scrapbooks. Lillie was six years older than Sarah. In 1896, a time of public school upheaval in Carrollton, 19-year-old Lillie became a teacher. Sarah wrote:
Mr. English got in touch with Cousin Lille Howe then just nineteen (in Nov. 1896) who had graduated the year before from Science Hill School then, as for many years the outstanding girls’ school in Kentucky, a preparatory for Wellesley, and very thorough as to English literature and history, as well as Mathematics and languages, tho really only a very advanced High School; for Lille went immediately there without attending C.H.S. at all.

The scrapbooks also include notes about Lillie working at times as a cashier in Howe Brothers department store, which was owned by her father and uncles.

She traveled out of the country at least twice: to Cuba (according to her father's obituary), and to England, returning aboard the ship Ausonia from Southampton to Quebec, Canada on 13 September 1924. [3]

Lillie must have had additional schooling (maybe at Wellesley?), because she later taught Spanish at Western College for Women, now part of Miami (Ohio) University, not far across the river from Carrollton. Maybe her travel to other countries – especially Cuba – was prompted by her profession as a Spanish teacher, or maybe it was her enthusiastic participation in church mission projects.

The Political Son: John Junior Howe

John, born 5 November 1879, was the namesake of his paternal grandfather. (In those days, "junior" in a name could indicate that a child was named for an ancestor other than his father. Curiously, this family made it a middle name.) He was four years older than his cousin Sarah, whose admiration of him shines through in references to him in her scrapbooks.

After high school graduation in Carrollton in 1896, John attended Kentucky Wesleyan College, a school affiliated with the Methodist Church. That's not a surprising choice, considering his family's roots and leadership roles in Methodism. John earned bachelor's and master's degrees at Wesleyan and in 1909 received a law degree from the University of Michigan.

He held public offices ranging from Carrollton city cashier to commonwealth's attorney. He sought nomination as Kentucky's candidate for the U.S. Senate but lost that election.

John Junior Howe was active in law, banking, church, and community until he died 29 July 1939 at the age of 59. I'll have more to say about him in a future post. I'm hoping to find a photo of him taken in his adult years.

Sarah's Playmate: Jenne Winslow Howe

Jenne was born in 1883, the same year as Sarah. Because Sarah had no siblings until 1896, other than a brother who died in infancy, she and Jenn were especially close as cousins. The post dated October 20 has a photo and more information about Jenne.

The Son Who Moved Away: Beverly Winslow Howe

Yet another attorney in the family! Beverly Winslow Howe, whose name reflects those of his father, his maternal grandfather, a great-grandfather, and an uncle, was born 18 November 1885. By 1908 he had been admitted to the bar in Tennessee and in Kentucky and was practicing law with his uncle and his brother in the firm of Winslow & Howe in Carrollton. In 1910 he moved to Chicago to work as a law clerk for a railroad company. He rose to prominence in his profession.  In 1916 he married Chicago-born Ruth Goessele. They had two daughters, Louise and Isabell. Stay tuned for more about Beverly – and hope along with me that I find a photo of him in Sarah's scrapbooks.


 The Baby: Ruth Louise Howe

Ruth (c1890 - 1930) was the last child born to William and Lou. Like several other Howe daughters
(including her sister Lillie?), she graduated from Wellesley College, a private liberal-arts college for women, located near Boston, Massachusetts. She was in the Class of 1912.

On 10 June 1915 [4], Ruth married Henry Berg Schuerman. Henry rose in the ranks at Carrollton Furniture Manufacturing Company to become president and general manager. (The Kentucky history book mentioned above says Ruth Winslow, sister of Lou Winslow Howe, married Henry Berg Schuerman, but the marriage record cited below under Endnotes prove that information to be incorrect.)

Ruth and Henry had one child, a daughter they named Wilhelmina, born 4 March 1916. Like her mother, Wilhelmina was a graduate of Wellesley (Class of 1937). She married Prescott L. Kettell and remained in Boston, where she worked as a medical social worker at Massachusetts General. She retired in 1989 and died in 2007. According to her online obituary, Wilhelmina – like her Howe ancestors – was devoted to music, theater, and reading. The couple gave Ruth and Henry three grandsons: Russell W. of San Francisco; Charles W. of Durham, Maine; and Henry S. of Boston.

When I look at Ruth Howe Schuerman's sweet baby face, I'm especially sad that she died so young – 29 November 1930 – at the age of 39 or 40. The cause of death was a skull fracture she suffered in an auto accident near Campbellsburg, Kentucky. She died in a Louisville hospital a day or two after the accident.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In a scrapbook is this drawing of the house in which the William F. Howe family lived. William purchased it in 1879, the year his third child, John Junior Howe, was born. I like to imagine this house full of the Howe children. I imagine books everywhere, because all of the Howes were insatiable readers and writers. I'm certain there were many gatherings of friends here, especially those affiliated with their church. I can almost see Sarah Eva Howe visiting her cousin Jenne here.
The brief article mentions that Jenne and Lillie are still living with their mother in this house. Because there is no mention of John Junior Howe, who lived there his entire life, I think this was published in the Carrollton Democrat between July 1939, when John died, and 1942, when his sister Lillie died. Is this beautiful, historic house still standing? If you know, please tell me.

So ends our own brief visit to the William F. Howe family of Carrollton, Kentucky. What fascinating and accomplished people!

[2] Photo from Findagrave Memorial #31550920; used here with permission of Bill Davis.
[3] National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Manifests of Passengers Arriving at St. Albans, VT, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1895-1954; National Archives Microfilm Publication: M1464; Record Group Title: Records
[4] "Kentucky Marriages, 1785-1979," database, FamilySearch ( : 4 December 2014), Henry Berg Schuerman and Ruth Louise Howe, 10 Jun 1915; citing , reference v 2 cn 133; FHL microfilm 2,114,845.

No comments: