HIRAM T. HOWE (sometimes recorded as HOW) was born in Michigan about 1831. He moved, along with the family, to Pennsylvania about 1835. The 1850 census for Elkland Township, Tioga County, Pennsylvania, shows him living not only with his parents but also with lumberman Ransom Egleston and his family. Hiram was working as a laborer and sawyer, probably learning his trade from Mr. Egleston. Hiram moved to Fayette County, Iowa, about 1853, a year before the rest of the family joined him. By 1856, the Iowa census shows him in Auburn, Fayette County. He was married to Rhoda Ann Pitts (aka Phoebe, born in New York in April 1835), working as a sawyer, a member of the militia, and appears to be the head of the household consisting of his parents, wife, and younger siblings Hannah and Francis. Daughter Alice R. was born May 8, 1856. In 1860, the entire family was living with David and Louvina Umstead and their 5-year-old daughter, still in Auburn, Fayette County. Hiram’s personal property was valued at $50. On August 31, 1861, second daughter Florence Achella was born.
At this time, the Civil War was beginning to rage, and four companies were recruited from Fayette County mostly in August 1862. Volunteers were plentiful, and Hiram was among them, signing up on August 14, 1862, at age 31, to serve the Union. He enlisted as a Private in G Company, 38th Infantry, Iowa, on September 9, 1862, was promoted to Full 8th Corporal on November 11, 1862, and promoted again to Full 6th Corporal about June 15, 1863.
For an interesting synopsis of activities of his regiment, see David Wildman’s A Brief History of the 38th Iowa (See synopsis at http://www.38thiowainfantry.com/history.html.) and/or the Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion, Together with Historical Sketches of Volunteer Organizations, 1861-1866 by the Iowa Adjutant General’s Office. In summary, the regiment was organized in Dubuque, Iowa, leaving there December 15, 1862, for Benton Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri, where they served as guards and gathered equipment. On December 28, they set out for Helena, Arkansas, on the steamer “Platte Valley.” Instructions changed on December 30, and they disembarked and headed to Union City, Tennessee. Orders changed again, and they were sent to reoccupy New Madrid, Missouri, arriving there January 2, 1863, and staying until June 6 to patrol the area and to repair damage that had been done by a Confederate raid.
Then, they were sent to join the battle at Vicksburg. They steamed down the Mississippi on the “Daniel G. Taylor,”arriving at Sherman’s Landing on June 11 and marching to Warrenton, Mississippi. They arrived at the Confederate line on June 15 and were assigned to the First Brigade, Second Division, Thirteenth Army Corps. Its unfortunate position was on the border of a polluted swamp, but the soldiers worked hard digging trenches and performing other similar work in hot weather until Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, 1863. From July 5 to 12, the 38th guarded Vicksburg. They were sent to Port Hudson, but when it surrendered, they were redirected to Yazoo City, Mississippi, which they occupied without resistance on July 14.
They returned to Vicksburg on July 21 and, on July 25, set out for Port Hudson, Louisiana, on the steamer “Lebanon.” David Wildman says, “The Regiment remained at Port Hudson for three weeks. During their stay all the men became sick with a combination of diseases, dysentery, typhoid, malaria, and associated complaints until less than 20 men were able to report for duty. The men died at the rate of two per day, the bodies were buried by sick men, in shallow graves in the middle of camp. On August 15 the Regiment moved to New Orleans, and camped at Carrollton. The Regiment was put into a convalescent camp but recovery came slowly and not before more than one hundred men had died there. The summer of 1863 will come to symbolize the Regiment’s place in Iowa’s civil war history, losing more men to disease than any other regiment, without ever participating in any of the great battles of the war, they came to be known as Iowa’s Martyr Regiment.” Hiram was one of these martyrs. He died of dysentery on September 14, 1863, in General Hospital No. 3, Vicksburg, Mississippi. He is buried at Vicksburg National Cemetery, Plot I 7480. Read more here.
Rhoda received a widow’s pension for her two daughters. She remarried widower Hiram Parker Austin on November 30, 1866, in Fayette County, Iowa. They moved to Kansas, where daughter Ida May was born in 1872. Daughter Alice married Zera Ivy there in 1874 and continued to live in Kansas. About 1876, the rest of the family moved to Vacaville, Solano County, California, located between San Francisco and Sacramento. Rhoda died in Alameda, California, on December 9, 1910, at the home of her daughter Florence Achella, who had married Buel R. Sackett in 1879. (See obituary in Comments below. Daughter Ida May is not accounted for, so it is assumed that she preceded her mother in death.) Hiram Austin lived in the Solano County Almshouse in 1910 and presumably passed away there some time after that date.
EDWARD P. HOWE (HOW on land records) was born in Michigan in 1833. With the rest of the family, he moved to Pennsylvania about 1835. In 1850, the census shows that he was a laborer, living with his parents and siblings in Elkland Township, Tioga County, Pennsylvania. He moved with the family to Fayette, Iowa, about 1854. By the time of the 1860 census, he was married and living in Auburn, Fayette County, Iowa, with his wife Mary and 4-year-old Emma Williams. In all future records, his wife is listed as Rebecca A., but Mary and Rebecca may be the same person, since they share the same birth year and place.
By the summer of 1863, Edward and Rebecca had moved to Casco, Allegan County, Michigan, where he was a farmer. He registered for the Civil War draft in Allegan County that summer, and near the end of the war, on March 3, 1865, at age 32, he enlisted in Company A, Michigan 13th Infantry Regiment for one year. He mustered in at Kalamazoo the next day and mustered out at Louisville, Kentucky, July 25, 1865.
On July 18, 1866, he and wife Rebecca purchased 40 acres in Casco, Allegan County, Michigan, from Timothy McDowell for $300. On the same day, they sold 10 of those acres for $75 to James T. Smith. Daughter Ada May was born there on May 13, 1869, and daughter Alta R. followed in October 1870.
They sold their 30 acres in Allegan County to James Marshall for $950 on June 4, 1877, and they moved back to Fayette County, Iowa. Census records from 1880 and 1885 show the family in Bethel, Fayette County, Iowa. In 1880, the schoolteacher lived with them, possibly indicating a desire for a good education for the two daughters.
No census records from 1890 exist. The 1900 census shows a widowed Edward, working as a carpenter, and single daughters, 29-year-old Alta and 31-year-old Ada, living in Manchester, Chesterfield, Virginia. What motivated this move to new territory remains to be discovered.
GEORGE WASHINGTON HOWE (sometimes HOW) was born near Towanda, Bradford County, Pennsylvania. The birthdate listed on his tombstone is October 15, 1835. At the time of the 1850 census, George was not living with the rest of the family, but a 14-year-old George How was living nearby with Henry and Phebe Smith and their children in Elkland, Tioga County, Pennsylvania. George did not attend school that year and may have been helping the Smiths on their farm. Indeed, Paulette Chaffin, in her user-submitted family tree on Ancestry.com, quotes the Compendium of History, Reminiscence and Biography of Knox County, NE pages 963-964, “When he was but eleven years of age, our subject began to support himself by working on a farm.”
Chaffin continues quoting the Compendium by stating that George lived in Pennsylvania “until his sixteenth year, when the family came west, settling in Fayette county…on arriving in Iowa, he obtained employment in a sawmill, which he followed for about two years, then migrated to Minnesota, that state being opened at that time for settlement. He remained there during the winter, spending his summers on the farm in Iowa…he came to Nebraska in 1858 for settlement, taking a claim in the northeast corner of Holt county…In 1864, Mr. Howe married a member of the Ponca tribe, and secured an allotment of two hundred and eighty acres in the Missouri riverbottoms, a part of the Ponca reservation in Boyd county.” Chaffin quotes the Niobrara, NE Centennial Book 1856-1956, “In 1875, he took charge of the H. E. Bonesteel & Company Trading Post at Ponca Agency. In 1877 he accepted a situation as wagon master under Inspector E. K. Kimbel, in moving the Ponca Indian Tribe to Oklahoma.”
His wife, Lucille LeClair, the daughter of a Ponca mother and French fur trader father, was typically known as Mrs. Lucy Howe. The 1870 census shows that Lucy and George, a farmer, were living in Niobrara, L’Eau Qui Court County, Nebraska, with two children, Frank (9) and George (5).
The Springfield Times, published in Springfield, Dakota Territory, on September 3, 1874, conveys a bit of excitement. “George Howe killed a large elk in the timber on Wall’s bottom, one day last week. There were seven points on his horns, and Mr. Howe sold the horns, we understand, for seven dollars.”
The 1880 census shows the family in Bon Homme County, Dakota Territory, continuing to farm. At that time, a female servant and eight children lived with George and Lucille: Mary Ann (16), Elizabeth (13), Hannah (11), Edward (8), Alice (6), Arnold (4), Ida (2), and Ben (1). By the time of the next available census, 1910, George and Lucille were in Niobrara Township, Knox County, Nebraska and had two sons living with them, George J. (26) and John F. (24). According to the 1895 Indian Census Rolls, they had one more child, Rebecca, born two years after John F.
Their descendant, Dwight Howe (www.ndnman.blogspot.com, July 4, 2004.) tells us that George “lived among and fought alongside of the Ponca, given an Indian name of Thum Bay Ska, Scar Hand. I was told he brought the first repeating rifles to the Ponca chiefs after killing two Sioux.” Again from Chaffin’s transcription of the Compendium,
“Since his marriage, Mr. Howe has taken a prominent part in Indian affairs, and is well versed in their mode of living, and the legends connected with the different tribes. At one time he was able to speak fluently in the Ponca and Sioux tongues.”
Lucille passed away at age 72, on February 18, 1914. By the time of the 1930 census, a widowed George and his single son Arnold were living with daughter Alice, her husband Adolph Swanson, and their son LaVerne in Niobrara. George Washington Howe passed away November 25, 1935. His obituary, quoted by Chaffin, says it was from “cancer on the lip which spread into his mouth, combined with age.” He was 100 years old.
URIAH ROBERT HOWE VARGASON tells us, in the Biographical History of Northern Michigan, B.F. Bowen & Company, 1905, pp. 485-86, that he was born at Towanda, Bradford County, Pennsylvania on July 8, 1837. He “was about two years old when his parents moved to Tioga County, Pennsylvania, where he remained until he was about fifteen years old, receiving a fair education in the common schools. He then went with his parents to Fayette County, Iowa” about 1854. At the time of the 1856 Iowa census, 18-year-old Uriah was working as a laborer and living in West Union, Fayette County, Iowa, on the farm of the C. R. Bent family.
The Biographical History states that Uriah remained in Fayette County about three years. The following “three or four years being spent as a trader with Indians in South Dakota. Going then to St. Joseph, Missouri, he was for a year engaged in buying mules for Pike’s Peak expeditions,” (Gold was discovered at Pike’s Peak in 1858.) “and then went to Calumet, Indiana where he remained about eighteen months. He afterwards operated a wood store in Chicago, Illinois.”
No official documents from the period between 1856 and 1870 have been located yet, and it was during this time that he changed his name from Uriah Howe to Uriah Vargason, taking his mother’s maiden name and changing the surname of this branch of the family forever after. Family oral history states that Uriah made this change to avoid fighting in the Civil War. Indeed, no definitive registration for the Civil War has yet been found for him. If he were in Dakota Territory at the time, since the war there was primarily to subdue the Indians, it is not likely that he would have wished to participate. It is interesting, however, that two of his brothers were quite eager to join up, one seemed somewhat indifferent, and Uriah and George Washington appear to have avoided it altogether. Perhaps the many moves that Uriah made during this time were for the purpose of avoiding the war, or perhaps they simply indicate the ramblings of a young man busy with activities more interesting than those offered by the battlefield.
Uriah “was married, in Allegan County, Michigan, in the early ‘sixties, to Miss Eliza Thomas,” per the Biographical History. According to Eliza’s obituary in The Kalkaska Leader 9/29/1904, the exact year was 1861. We know that Uriah’s brother Edward moved to Allegan County sometime between 1860 and 1863 and remained until 1877, so it is quite probable that Uriah paid him a visit during the early ‘sixties and met the lovely “Miss Eliza Thomas,” born in March 1844 in New York to John Thomas and Elizabeth Reifsnyder Thomas. However, our Miss Thomas had a bit of history! On July 31, 1859, 15-year-old Eliza married Eugene Cook at her parents’ home in Allegan County. They had at least one child, Mary (Elsie), born in 1862. Some family research shows that a son Allen was born in 1860, but I have not yet found a record to corroborate that.
In the Biographical History, Uriah tells us that he moved to Kalkaska County in the fall of 1866. When he did so, he took Eliza Cook and her young daughter Mary with him. There is no record of Eliza’s divorce from Eugene Cook in Allegan County. Nor is there a record of her marriage to Uriah. Might a fresh start with a married woman in the wilds of northern Michigan have motivated Uriah’s name change?
Settlement of this area had begun only about twelve years before Uriah and Eliza arrived, and it continued to be sparsely populated. From The Traverse Region, Historical and Descriptive, with Illustrations of Scenery and Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Chicago, H.R. Page & Co., 1884: “Rapid River was the first town organized, in what is now Kalkaska County. In 1868 a few settlers had located in the territory, and they were desirous of voting at the Presidential election. The territory was then attached to Antrim County, and the distance to the polls was so great that some would be deprived of the privilege of voting. Norman Ross, then a resident of what is now Clearwater, circulated a petition to the board of supervisors for the organization of a town to be called Rapid River. The first town election was held at the house of S.A. Rice, in what is now Rapid River, and 19 votes were cast. H.U. Hill had been elected justice of the peace at the spring election, and Norman Ross was elected first supervisor. The day following was the Presidential election and the voting place was at the house of Norman Ross. At this election 15 votes were cast.”
Meanwhile, Uriah and Eliza set about to become a family and establish themselves in the area. Eliza’s daughter Mary Cook assumed the last name of Vargason, and Achella (Gladie) was born June 13, 1867. Sam came along about 1869 but died young. At the time of the 1870 census, they had a respectable $600 in real estate and $370 in personal property. Uriah had a seat at the Kalkaska County Republican Convention on August 12, 1874, according to the Grand Traverse Herald, Vol. XVI, No. 35.
Clifford Harland was born July 14, 1875, and Mrytle Lena Bell was born March 20, 1877. Around 1880, daughter Mary married Robert Morrison, an immigrant from Scotland, and continued to live and raise a family in Clearwater Township. The 1880 census shows Uriah, Eliza, Achella, Clifford, and Myrtle together in the household. Daughter Grace Elina was born in September 1881.
Uriah was elected as a Justice of the Peace for Clearwater Township in 1883 according to The Traverse Region, Historical and Descriptive, with Illustrations of Scenery and Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers, Chicago, H. R. Page & Co., 1884.
Raymond Granger was born July 18, 1887. Although absolutely no records indicate parentage other than Uriah and Eliza, there is some room for speculation. Eliza was 44 years old, and Achella was 21 at the time of Raymond’s birth. In 1888, Achella married Francis William Granger, born December 24, 1865, in Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, England, to Thomas and Elizabeth Victoria Granger, all of whom immigrated to the
United States in 1872. The English grandmother of Francis may have set a precedent by giving two illegitimate children middle names that matched the last name of their father. (Perhaps DNA testing will set the record straight in the coming years.)
On December 15, 1892, Myrtle married Charles Harris at the Clearwater Grange Hall. They continued to live in Clearwater Township, where she bore three children. Myrtle passed away at age 28 on March 3, 1906, from tuberculosis.
Two family weddings took place during March 1900. On March 3, 1900, Grace married Hugh Jehiel Miller, born to Willis & Esther Miller on January 16, 1877. Hugh worked as a sawyer in a hoop mill, and he and Grace lived on Uriah’s farm at the time of the 1900 census, along with Uriah, Eliza, Raymond, and 67-year-old servant and farm laborer Robert Morrison (not son-in-law Robert Morrison, but no doubt a relative). Hugh and Grace moved to Denver, Colorado, where they raised a family. Hugh passed away August 7, 1920, at age 43, and Grace later married Grover Cleveland Ellison, a West Virginia native, born October 14, 1884, to Nathaniel and Sylvia Ellison. Grover and his first wife, Catherine Eads Ellison, were divorced sometime between 1920 and 1930. Grover and Grace continued to live in Denver.
In the second wedding, on March 14, 1900, in Traverse City, Michigan, Clifford married Nettie E. Webster, born April 8, 1880. They raised a family and farmed in Clearwater Township. At the time of his World War I draft registration, Clifford served as highway commissioner, in addition to farming. Clifford passed away June 23, 1936, in Petoskey, Michigan.
By now, Uriah had a lovely home and productive farm. Per the Biographical History, “his farm comprises one hundred and twenty acres, of which he cultivates about fifty-five acres and has also devoted about five acres to an orchard, which is stocked with choice and standard varieties of fruit of all kinds. He is diversified in his farming operation, raising all the crops for which the soil and climate are adapted. He has a neat and substantial residence and all the buildings on the place are well adapted to their several uses.”
Eliza passed away September 17, 1904, from uterine cancer. She is buried in Clearwater Township Cemetery. Uriah and Raymond continued to live on the farm.
Raymond married Nellie Mildred Packer on October 26, 1907. Nellie was the daughter of William Oscar and Emma Jane Ingram Packer, born August 3, 1889. Raymond and Nellie lived with Uriah, taking care of the home and farm. Their children were born and grew up there: Harold Ivan (July 4, 1909), Emma Eliza (June 24, 1910), Leonard Lowell (April 8, 1912), and Cecil Raymond (October 28, 1915).
Uriah died of bronchial pneumonia on December 15, 1919, and is buried alongside his wife in Clearwater Township Cemetery.
HANNAH HOWE was born about 1841 or ’42 while the family lived in Elkland, Tioga County, Pennsylvania. With the rest of the family, she moved to Fayette County, Iowa, about 1854. The census records show her living with her parents and younger brother in 1856. In 1860, they lived with the Umsteads and older brother Hiram and his family in Douglas, Auburn Township, Fayette County, Iowa. Hannah has not been found in the 1870 census. Since the 1930 census shows her age at the time of her first marriage as 23, she was probably married to an as yet unknown gentleman during this time. In 1871, she married Starr Noble Button, a carpenter born about 1841 in New York. Per a member contribution (Steve D. Starr, 2/10/2008) attached to Starr’s 1880 census record in www.Ancestry.com, he had been married first to Sarah J. Howell, with whom he had 2 daughters, Rosa and Jessie, both born in Iowa. 15-year-old Rosie and 13-year-old Jessie lived with Starr and Hannah in 1880 in Bon Homme County, Dakota Territory. Since Hannah’s mother Polly is buried in Bon Homme County, South Dakota, it may be assumed that Hannah cared for her prior to her death in 1874.
Hannah and Starr moved to California, and records there begin in 1896. They lived in Downey Township, Los Angeles County. Starr was a farmer. In 1910, both at age 68, they were in Ontario, San Bernardino County, California, where Starr was a fruit farmer and Hannah worked as an orange house packer. Starr died January 27, 1917, and Hannah remained in Ontario Township. By 1920, she was no longer working. In 1930, at age 88, she lived alone in a home valued at $2000, which she owned.
FRANCIS HOWE was born in Pennsylvania in 1846. He moved with the family to Fayette County, Iowa, about 1854. The 1856 Iowa census shows 10-year-old Francis living in Auburn, Fayette County, Iowa, with his parents and sister Hannah. In 1860, they lived with the Umsteads and older brother Hiram and his family. By 1864, at age 18, he listed his occupation as farmer. He was 5’7 1/2″ tall, of medium complexion, with brown hair and hazel eyes.
Even though his older brother had died in the Civil War just 5 months earlier, on February 9, 1864, at age 18 and with Horatio’s consent, Francis enlisted for 3 years as a private in Company F, 1st Regiment of Iowa Cavalry. He enlisted at Independence, Iowa, and mustered in at Dubuque the same day. He received a bounty of $60. This unit provided their own horses, and Francis received payment for “use and risk of horse” in addition to his wages. He served primarily at Little Rock, Arkansas. When he became ill of an unknown disease, he received a furlough from October 2-November 2, 1864, to return home and recover. He never made it back to Iowa. On October 3, 1864, he died at DeValls Bluff, Arkansas. DeValls Bluff is on the White River, not far from Little Rock, used by the Union forces as a port to transport troops. Francis’ effects were never forwarded to his commanding officer. By the end of the war, his Regiment had lost 2 officers and 56 enlisted men to battle and 2 officers and 233 enlisted men to disease.