Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Finding William Small Howe (part 4)

We last left Finding William Small Howe (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) with finding his death notice in the Boston Evening Transcript and the clue of "He was captain in the First Maine Cavalry." He would be the right age to serve in the American Civil War (AKA "War of the Rebellion" or "War for Southern Independence" depending on the side you were rooting for). So we might want to start there.

But first, since he died in Lewiston, Maine, are there any online archives of papers from that time and place? The Google News Archives is to the rescue once again. On page 4 of the 5 o'clock edition of the August 25, 1891 Lewiston Evening Journal there is a several column inch article for the "Death of Dr. Howe." There is plenty of great information in the article to confirm what I've already found through other records but still no mention of his parents. Sigh. Yet there is a lot of new information about his life in Maine. Some details gleaned from the article include:

  • He died Midnight Monday, 24 Aug 1891
  • He came to Lewiston with his wife and daughter in 1885 from Pittsfield, Maine
  • He was a homeopathic physician
  • He was born in St. John, New Brunswick on 9 Feb 1834
  • He was educated in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Horton, Nova Scotia, and entered Acadia College in New Brunswick but did not graduate
  • He was active in the Baptist ministry up to the outbreak of war
  • He enlisted in the D.C. Cavalry and, after consolidation,was in the First Maine Cavalry
  • He was a commissioned  office and Chaplain of Company D in the First Maine Cavalry
  • He was taken prisoner at the famous cattle-raid and for nine months was a prisoner in Libby
  • He was at the battle of Five Forks where he was shot though the body
  • After the war, due to his poor health, he studied medicine and graduated from Bowdoin Medical School in 1869 and the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York in 1870
  • In 1883 he graduated from the Hahnemann School of Homeopathy in Philadelphia
  • He was a member of the Blue Lodge and Chapter in Masonry
  • He leaves a wife and a daughter upon his death and two children died previously, a son and a daughter


A quick Google search on Maine Masonic Archives brought me to the Genealogy page of the Grand Lodge of Maine Library. I wasn't expecting to find too much information online there when I spotted, "The original files of the members of the Grand Lodge of Maine from 1820 to 1995 are digitized and online." Clicking in the provided link brought me to the "Genealogy & Family Information" page with a long list of PDF files and one of those files had William S. Howe's index card:

Could both of these cards be the same person? One is a Reverend and the other a Medical Doctor and William was both. Lodge 72 Pioneer is in Ashland and in the 1860 census that is where William S. Howe resided with Grace E. and Charles E. Lodge 125 Meridian is located in Pittsfield. Guess where the William S. Howe we've been following resided in the 1870 and 1880 census? Correct, Pittsfield. Finally, the obituary mentions that he will be buried under the direction of Rabboni Lodge of Lewiston. I would say that the two index cards refer to the same person but at different periods of his life.

We also have information that he enlisted in the District of Columbia Calvary and was later a commissioned officer in Company D of the First Maine Cavalry. A search of military records on Ancestry reveals several William S. Howe's resided in Maine with approximately the same birth year. So how do I figure out the right William S. Howe? Fortunately, on a pension index card I come across an image for William S. Howe with a widow Grace E. Howe listed as the dependent with services in "Corp. D. 1 Maine Cav." and "D, 1 D. C. Cav." I'd say this is the right person.
"U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934," database and images, ( : accessed 29 Dec 2016); card for William S Howe.
"U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934," database and images, ( : accessed 29 Dec 2016); card for William S Howe.
The index card includes several important details, those of the application numbers and certificate numbers for William's application as an invalid and Grace's application as a widow. As a to do item I've made a note to see about ordering document from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). But that will be sometime in the future. Who knows what those documents will contain?

In the meanwhile, I also did a Google search for any books on the First Maine Cavalry. I came across the book "History of the First Maine Calvary, 1861-1865" by Edward P. Tobie that was published in 1887. This meant the book was out of copyright and might be available from the Internet Archive. A quick search there pulled up the exact book I was looking for. Hoping for an index at the back of the book I found something even better in the Index To Illustrations, a mention of "Howe, Capt. & Dr. Wm. S. Co. D" on page 273.

I still didn't have a document connecting William to his parents Charles and Hannah (Baxter) Howe. I had a lot of information on his life and his service though census records, letters in the First Maine Bugle publication, books, index cards, and newspaper articles but not what I was really looking for.

That is until I decided to do a little more complex Google Search with the key word:
william small howe maine -"sir william" -"sir howe" physician charles hannah
I needed to exclude Sir William Howe and that is why the minus signs in front of some of the key words. This is what appeared on my screen.

The first entry was the book "Obituary Record of the Graduates of Bowdoin Collect and the Medical School of Maine For The Year Ending 1 June 1892 [No. 3. Second Series]" and on page 106 is his obituary which starts with [emphasis is mine]:
"William Small Howe, son of Charles and Hannah (Baxter) Howe, was born 9 February, 1834, at St. John, N.B. ..."
and ends with:
"Dr. Howe married 10 December, 1857, Grace E., daughter of Charles and Margaret (Porter) Emery, who survives, with one daughter. Their eldest son, Charles Emery, died as he was about entering upon the practice of medicine, and an elder daughter, Annie P., died in childhood."

The date of the marriage is off by a few months but all the details appear to line up with what I have gathered over the years. I think I finally found the smoking gun. Without looking in many places and following the clues each document provided I would never have been able to confirm what I thought might be correct, that the William Small Howe, residing in Maine and married to Grace E. Emery, is the same William Small Howe, son of Charles and Hannah (Baxter).

Finally, may I introduce you to my third great-granduncle, Captain William Small Howe, M.D. of Company D of the First Maine Cavalry.

Edward P. Tobie, History of the First Maine Calvary, 1861-1865 (Boston, Massachusetts: Press of Emery & Hughes, 1887), 273.
Edward P. Tobie, History of the First Maine Calvary, 1861-1865 (Boston, Massachusetts: Press of Emery & Hughes, 1887), 273.


  1. Nice series Ken. Good to see you back blogging.

  2. Such a fine looking gentleman to have in our family!

  3. Great series on your Wm Howe. And I loved HOW you researched and confirmed everything. Your are an inspiration to us new family historians. Thanks for sharing the story.