William S. (William Smith) Pelletreau.

Historic homes and institutions and genealogical and family history of New York (Volume 1) online

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W., Hauii'di i>,, wife of Tjcwls To([net; ^lary X.. and Catherine
S., wife of Hon. Xoah A. Phelps.

Anna Benedict had cliihlren: Polly, wife of Ezra Benedict;
Samuel: ^^attllias St. John, and Nathan,

dolin T St. John died a))out 3850. His children were:
Martha, Avil'e of dohn C Bassett; ^Taria, wife of Josei^h E.
Sheffield; George; Thomas; Sanniel Henry, and Erastus R.

Nathan St. John had children: AFiles, Milton, Clmuncey,
Samuel B. Newton.

Esther Bates had children: Sanuiel S., William S.. (Jeorge
I?.. Charles, .Inliette, Sarah X., wife of Benj:nuin Noyes.

AfilttMi St. .John, son of Nathan and .\nna St. John, was
hoi'u in Anienia, New "^'ork, December 4. ISO."). In ISKI he came
to New York and lived with a near relative. I'pon arriving at
manhood he began the business of merchant tailor, which he
conduct(Ml with great success. For many yeai's his jilace of busi-


ness was Xo. S4 IJioadway. He was one of the officers in the
thirst T'resbyterian elinich, in Wall street, and continued to bold
office mitil 1856, when, removing- his residence from Twelfth
street, between Fifth and Sixth avennes to Twenty-first street
between Sixth and Seventh avenues, he connected himself with
the Reformed chnrch on Twenty-third street, and was treasurer
of that chnrch at the time of his death. In politics he was a
Whig, and was one of the first to join the Reimblican party.
In 1834 he married Sarah Pardee, of Sharon, Connecticut.
After a useful and intinential life he died in New York, Feb-
ruary 25, 18(37. His wife died January 25, 1867. Mr. St. John
left children: Catharine W., ^fary and Anna. Of this family
the only one now living is Miss Anna St. John, now residing in
New York.


The history of this family in England goes back to the
middle ages, and in this country it is inseparably connected Avith
earliest English settlement in the province of New York.

The rese-ti-ches of George R. Howell, whose untimely de-
cease is dee])ly lamented by all lovers of history, inform us that
William Howell, of AVedon, in the county of Bucks, had wife
Maude, wlio died and left two children, John the elder, an(] John
the younger. His second wife was Anne Hampton, and by this
marriage had a son Henry and several other children. In his
will, dated November 3, 1557. he dii-ected his body "to be buried
in the parish church of Wingrave in the chancel before the high
altar." He also left legacies to the ])oor of Aylesbury, White-
church and Marsh. To his wife, Anne, he left the use of his_
lands in Watton and Hamme, and at her decease they were to go
to his son Henry. To his eldest son, John, he left his lauds in
Mai'sh Gibl)on, which in default of issue were to go to his
brother Henrv.


William Tloweli died in lo-lT; liis son Jolni died childless in
1576: his brother Henry inherited his lands and became the
fomider of the family, whose record is liere given. The parish
register of Marsh (Jibbon states that Henry Howell, Gent., was
1)nried ''ye twenty day of July l(i25." His son, Edward Howell,
was baptized the 22d of July, 1589. His first wife was Frances,
who died about July 1, 1630. The children of this marriage


were: 1. Henry, baptized December L', KilS, was buried Au-
gust i!9, Ki]!). L'. Mai'pai'ct, bajttized November L'4, Kii'L*, mar-
ried Rev. John Moore, of Southold, Long Fsland. '•]. .John, liap-
tized November '22. Ki'J!-. 4. I'^dward, ))aptized September, Kii'Ci.
5. Margary. baptized June 1, KI'JS. (i. l\i('liard, liai)tized in 1629.
The second wife of Edward Howell was Eleanor, who had two
children. Arthur. avIio w;is baptized Ki.'VJ, and Edmund.

In 163!), Edward Howell, with all his family, came to Bos-
ton, and was made a freeman March 14, l()39-4(). He shortly


after removed to Lynn, where lie had a grant of five hundred
acres. ])uring the winter of 1639-40, a new settlement was pro-
jected on Long Island, of which he was the leader, and the
''agreement" or terms upon which the new colony was founded
(still in existence in the town clerk's office in Soutliami)ton) is
believed to he in his hand writing. He contril)uted a innch
larger amount tlian any other ])erson towards the expenses
of founding the new settlement ; was one of the very few who are
mentioned as ''Mr."' and "Gentleman"; to the end of his life was
a luagistrate, and in later years was a member of the colonial
legislature at Hartford. His useful life ended in Se^jtember,
1()55, and on October (i. it was granted "to Mrs. Elliuor Howell
that she should have the administration of all the goods belong-
ing unto Mr. Pidward Howell, deceased." The location of his
resting place is approximately known from the fact that his eld-
est son, Major John Howell, in his will directs that his remains
be buried "by his father's sepulchre," and his tombstone bearing
the ancestral arms still renuiins in the ancient burying ground in
Southampton. The extent of his "Proprietor Rights" made Ed-
ward Howell a large land owner, and his landed possessions ap-
pear to have been e(iually divided among his sons, and th;i.- i,y
scendants are now scattered far and wide throughout our broad
land. The house of the founder of Southampton was standing on
the west side of the main street of the village till recent years.
An elegant mansion l)uilt by Hon. James H. Pierson stands upon
its site. The arms of this illustrious family, as here given, are
taken from an impression of the seal of Colonel ^Matthew Howell
(son of Major John Howell), attached to his will in the New
York surrogate's otlice. There can be little doul)t but that the
seal itself had belonged to Edward Howell, and had descended
to his grandson, who was a Eepresentative from Suffolk county
in the Colonial Legishitnre, KiiH-^, and from 1()1)4 to 170(1, in-


t'lnsive. He died in Southampton, much lamented, May 11, 1706,
and a massive tomlistoaie marks his last resting place.

As tlie name in its phonetic form, "Hoel" (which was its
pronunciation till veiy recent times), appears in very ancient
chronicles, we are led to the conclusion that the family is of the
ancient British origin, and antedates hoth the Saxons and their
Xorman concjuerors .

For one hundred and fifty years the Howells were the l)one
and sinew of the town of Southampton. They were the most ex-
tensive landowners, the largest taxpayers, and held the highest
offices. The founder of the Sag Harbor whale fishery, whose
ships in later years were found in every sea, was Stephen
Howell, who was born in 174-!-, died in 1828. He was a soldier in
the Revolution and took ])art in the battle of Long Island. After
the war he was among the first to revive the prostrate enterprise
of the country, and in 1785 sent out the first whaling vessels on
extended voyages. A iu)ble monument in (Jakland cemetery in
Sag Plarbor marks his last resting jjlace and connnemorates his
services as the fouiuler of a mighty enteriu'ise.

At a very early date the Howells sent off colonies to other
parts of the countiy. Ldnnind Howell, the yoiuigest son of the
first settle]-, removed to Xew Jersey, where his descendants are
yet found. Hezekiah Howell, a grandson of Richard Howell,
with many of his family, went to ( )i-ange county ajid founded
Blooming drove. Other branches also settled in Xew Jersey
and in the western part of Xew York, aiul wherever they went
they and their posterity were honoral)le and honored. The first
actual settlement in the western i)art of the town of South-
ampton was made by Hezekiah Howell, who had a house and
orchard at Catchaponack before M'.Vl. He soon after had a
ueig'hbor in the person of Jonathan Rayner, and their descend-
ants still inherit their ancestriil heritage. Previous to the date


above given, it was for long years the custom for the owners of
tlie meadows to mow the grass in tlie summer and secure it in
large hay stacks suri'onnded 1)\- a fence. Late in tlie fall they
would drive their herds of cattle to the meadows, and a few men
would fodder them during the winter, living in small, temporary
dwellings, and engaging their leisure time in hunting deer and
shooting wild fowl, both of which wei-e abundant. The house
and orchard of Hezekiah Howell have remained in the family
name, though not in the direct line of descent, and is one of the
few instances of a homestead possessed by the same family from
the original laying out. ( )f its i-ecent owner we will now proceed
to tell.

^[oin'iMKi^ i)EVF;Ri^:rx howell.

The line of descent of Mortimer D. Howell, who was recog-
nized as one of the most prominent representatives of the name,
is as follows: 1. Edward Howell. 2. Richard. 3. Josiah. -J-.
Josiah. O.John, (i. dolin Mitchell. T.Charles. 8. Mortimer 1).
He was born at the ancestral homestead at Catchaponack, 183(5.
Strange as it may seem, he began the hard life of a farmer boy
of the olden time at the early age of seven years, when he drove
a team of horses, carting cordwood to Flanders. He was very
small for his age, and was lifted to his place on the load, wrapped
in a blanket, the lines placed in his hands, and thus he drove the
well trained team, who knew the road much better than himself.
As he grow older he took a more active jiart in the labors of the
farm, and every branch of farm labor he learned thoroughly
from actual ex])erience. T^earning to read at a very early age,
his k)ve of reading never ceased. In his boyhood books were
few, and. as he afterward said, he read the ahnanac till he knew
it by lieart, and the same might be said of the other books at his
command, often read by firelight, and in this way his earliest


education was obtained. Conii)leting the course of the public
schools at fifteen, he was sent to Greenport, where educational
advantages were better, and from there to Amenia Seminary,
after which he taught for three years. The earh' labors of his
life were particularly hard. The farm being large, there was a
great amount of work to be done. There was no farm machinery,
such as now lightens toil, the only help Ijeing negroes, descended
from the slaves of colonial days, and regarded as almost a part
of the family, while to maintain them, and yet make the farm
pay, was a problem not easy to solve, though the estate embraced
three-quarters of Catchaponack neck.

In this manner his life was spent until his twenty-fourth
year, when he went on a voyage around Cape Horn to California
in the clipper ship "Belle of the Sea." Tliis voyage was made
to join his brother, J. W. Fletcher Howell, who went to Cali-
fornia some years before. On this voyage, although he shipped
as carpenter, he might be said to have been partly passenger
and partly second mate. He studied navigation, and in his
leisure time read Shakespeare, until he was thoroughly familiar
with all the works of that famous poet. His original intention
was to visit his brother and to make a voyage around the world
by sailing from San Francisco to China, but this was prevented
by the Civil war. His stay in California was limited to four
mouths. On their return voyage, while in the Bermuda i)assage,
they saw a large ship hove to and beyond it the smoke of the
rebel pirate "Alabama," which had made great havoc with
American shipping. Tt was not till forty years afterwards that
he knew the reason why the rebel steamer did not pursue and
capture their ship, as she could easily have done. While in
Japan he read the autobiography of Captain Semmes, and
learned that a spar, taken from the burned vessel, was being-
rigged on the "Alal)ama," and the time thus occupied enablcvl


the ship ill whieli .Mr. Howells sailed to escape. On his return
from this voyage, on Xoveml)er l-t. 18(55. he married Lydia M.,
daughter of John Howell, of (^uogue, and gained by this an
earnest and faithful helper of a lifetime. He then began the
business of his life. Among the summer visitors to Catchapo-
iiaek was Phineas T. Barnum, the world wide known showman,
who passed many seasons at the old Howell house. With his
keen foresioht he advised ]\Ir. Howell to erect a new and much
larger iniilding. and advanced the necessary means. His father
gave him the land (the tirst he ever owned), in 1865, and the
new hotel, or boarding house, the largest in that region, was
soon finished. Under his own and his wife's able management
the enteri)rise soon liecame a most successful one, and in a few
years he was free fi'om debt — the possessor of a steady and
prosperous business. Peoi)le of a superior class, among- whom
was General John A. Dix, made Westhampton their summer
home, the Drice of land rajudly advanced, elegant residences
soon dotted the landsca]ie. and the severe toil of early days was
forgotten in easy circumstances. His winters were passed in
shooting trips to the south. In 1897. in eom])auy with his son,
he went to \'enezue!a. the AVest Indies and Mexico. In his
various travels he had l:)een in all the states of the Union but
four, fn Xovember. 1901. much against the wishes of his family,
solicitous concerning his health, at the age of sixty-five, he began
alone a journey around the world. As he himself remarked,
"I have always desired to go around the world and this is the
first time T have had a chance," and thus, forty years after his
fii'st intention, his wish was realizecl. Crossing India, he re-
turned by way of tht' Suez Canal. While in Flngland, at Marsh-
gibbon, in Buckingham- hi re. he vi-^ited the ancient homestead of
hi- ra;'e. owned by his ancestors three hundred years before.
He returned in April. llMli', and retired from active l)usine<s,


leasing his hotel and spending his winters in New York. His
health began to fail, and on Fel)ruary 7, 190(). he passed from
the scenes of life, surrounded and lamented liy family and
friends, and leaving an example (if a life well spent and crowned
with well-merited success.

In person Mr. Howell was of average height, very strongly
built, and cajiable of great exertion, very pi'omjit and assertive
in manner, never hesitating to express his opinions in the plain-
est manner, and as (me who knew him well exjiressed it, "He
was not a man to be easily talked down." At the same time he
had due regard for the feelings and opinions of others, and
never failed to show them all proper consideration and respect.
Exceedingh' characteristic of him was the advice he gave to
his sons, "Be sure to save half of what you make, l)ut be sure
to spend the other half." In this way they would avoid being
extravagant or ])arsimi)nious. He was a lil)ei-al giver to all
jiublic improvements, and charitalile to all worthy objects, and
his motto was: "Do as you would be done by." In all lousi-
ness affairs he }!csse3sed excellent judgment, upon wliidi Ins
friends relied. But there is no one who would wish to deny
that the success of his life was largely owing to his choice of a
life partner, who was ecpial to all emergencies, and met all the
vicissitudes of life with a s])irit no less unfaltering than his
own. They were the );arents or hve children. 1. ddhn M., di ■;!
by drowning at the age of eight years. 2. Ilamitton Pit-rson.
born December 27, lS(i9, attended the AVesleyan Academy at
Wilbraham, Massachusetts, and graduated from Yale Univers-
ity in 1891. He adopted tbc pi-ofession of medicine, and grad-
uated from the College of l^hysicians and Surgeons. 18!t4. For
three years he was on the surgical staff in Roosevelt Hos])ital.
and is now a practicing i)hysician in Xew York. He married
Caroline E. Densnu)re, of Boston, ami has one son, Hampton


P., Jr., born Oetol)er 27, 1904. 3. Lloyd Mortimer, ])orii October
25, 1873. After attending Bridge Hampton Commercial In-
stitnte and the Wesleyan Academy, he entered Yale University
and gradnated in 1894; studied for two years in Columbia
Law School, then entered New York Law School and graduated
in 1898. For several years he was assistant United States
District Attorney in Brooklyn, and is now a i)racticing
lawyer at No. 135 Broadway, New York. 4. Henry Jarvis, born
July 31, 1876. After studying at Williston Seminary and Brook-
lyn Polytechnic, he was for awhile assistant to his father at
West Hampton. He then entered the office of Ernest Flag, a
]irominent architect, and remained there several years. In 1903
he went to the Island of Guam and superintended the erection
of the large station of the Macky-Bennett Cable Company. 5.
Gertrude Halsey, born August 6, 1878, was educated at Walnut
Lane School, Germantown, Pennsylvania. On March 12, 1903.
she married Duane P. Cobb, a lawyer of Manhattan. They have
one child, Mortimer Howell Cobb, born October 24, 1904.

It remains to state the immediate ancestry of this branch
of the Howell family.

John Howell, third, known as "John Howell of Canoe
Place," from his having a house of entertainment there before
the Eevolution, married Elizabeth, daughter of Daniel Brewster,
who Avas son of Daniel Brewster, son of Eev. Nathaniel Brews^
ter, the tirst minister in Brookhaven. Their son. Major John
^litchell Howell, was born Sei)tember 27, 1772, and died at
West Hamj)ton, March 26, 1826. His first wife was Mary, daugh-
ter of William Halsey. She died at the age of twenty-four.
Their children were: 1. John, married Eliza Miller, of Wad-
ing River. He was at one time the owner of Old Neck at West
Moriches. 2. Mary, married Thomas Hewlett of Rockaway.
Major Howell married for his second wife, 1806, Clarissa.


(langliter of Daniel Fanninii', Avliose wife, Jane Fanning, was
a daughter of Colonel Josiali Smith, who commanded the Suf-
folk County Eegiment at the battle of Long Island. Their chil-
dren were Charles and Jane. The former, known as "Charles
Howell of Catchaponaeh," was born in 1812, died in 1878. He
married Elizabeth Jones, daughter of Shepherd Halsey. Their
children were : J. W. Fletcher Howell, a prominent citizen of
Southampton; ^Mortimer D. ; Gertrude, wife of Dr. E. P. Jarvis,
for many years a practicing physician in Moriches, Tjong Island ;
and CMara Mitchell, wife of Frank Lyons.


The American ancestors of Thomas A. Howell, on the pa-
ternal and maternal sides, were Long Islanders, resident from an
early Colonial jjeriod in the town of Southampton, Suffolk
county. New York. In the paternal line he was descended from
ancestors who emigrated to this country from Holland, and in
the maternal line he came from original Welsh stock. The di-
rect line of descent of Thomas A. Howell is as follows: 1. Ed-
ward Howell, the fininder of Southampton, Long Island. 2.
Richard, died 174i>. :]. Josiah, 1675-17r)2. 4. Josiah. born
1709. 5. Captain Josiah. 1758-1808. 6. Hampton. 7. Benja-
min Huntting. 8. Henry B. 9. Thomas A. Howell.

Benjamin Huntting Howell, grandfather of Thonns A. How-
ell, was l)orn at Belli)ort, Long Island, February 7, 1811, son of
Hampton and Elizabeth Post (Huntting) Howell, and grandson
on the maternal side of Colonel Benjamin Huntting, who served
with credit in the war of the Revolution. Benjamin H. Howell
received a common school education, and at the age of fourteen
engaged in business employment as a clerk in a country store
at Huntington, Long Island. In this connection he continued
with vai-ious concerns until able to emljark in trade on his own


account. In ISIJli lie cstal)lislie(l in Xew York City, with Jolm
Howell, the wholesale grocery house of B. H. & J. Howell. From
this partnership he vras obliged by ill liealth to retire in 1840,
removing in that year to Cutchogue, Tjong Island. In 1843
he resumed business in Xew York (*ity, organizing the grocery
tirm of B. H. Howell & Company, which he conducted success-
fully until 1858. He then accei)ted the presidency of the Market
Fire Insurance Com])any, l)ut in 1861 again entered mercantile
life, forming a co-partnersliip with his son, Thomas A., under
the firm style of B. H. Howell & Son. This firm, devoting its
energies to the purchase and sale of molasses and sugar, was
soon in the enjoyment of an extensive ])usiness. In 1870 other
])artners were admitted and the name was changed to B. H.
Howell, Son & Company. Sulisequently two other sons of Mr.
Howell. Frederick H. and Henry B.. with James Howell Post,
were received as ]iartners. Since the death of Mr. Howell, which
occurred A];ril 16, 1900, the house has continued without further
change of name, retaining the eminent |)osition in the com-
mercial world of the metropolis secured for it by its founder.
Benjamin H. Howell was one of the organizers and original
directors of the ^Ntarket Bank, now merged in the Market and
Fulton National Bank. He was for many years a resident of
the section of Brooklyn known as AViiliamsburg, and was the
first president of tlie Williams1)urg Gas C^)mpany. He was at
all times a representative and ])ublic-spirited citizen, and took
an active interest in religious work. He was one of the first
trustees and ])rincipal supporters of the South Third Street
Presbyterian Church. His country home was at Quogue.

Mr. Howell married (first). 18;)7, Mary Andrews, who died
August 25, 1848. To this union was l)orn three children: Fred-
erick H., Thomas A. and Altheia, who became the wife of Will-
iam H. Plummer, deceased. Mr. Howell married (second),


1851, Eiiza]K4li Banks, win. died Febniary I'-J, IDO'J. To tliis
union were born two cliildi-cii : Ilcnrv !>., see forward; Eiiiiiia,
died in childhood.

Henry B. Howell, son of Benjamin II. Howt'll, and father
of Thomas A. Howell, was born in l>r()oklyn, IS,"),"), died at
Qnogne, Long- Island, Se})tember, 18i)<S, at the early age of forty-
three. His early life was si)ent in Brooklyn, and he tlici-c ac-
(|nired his education in a private school. He was still very
young when he entered the business of his father, which at tlrit
time bore the firm name of B. H. Howell & Son. Later the
name was changed to its present form of B. H. Howell. Son sfc
Company. He was acti\'ely interested in this business until
very shortly liefore his death. He was married in Brooklyn,
New York, to Mary Blackwell, who bore him two children:
Thomas A., see forward. Corinne Blackwell, who l)ecame tlie
wife of Channing P. Wiley.

Thomas A. Howell, only son and eldest child of Henry B.
and Mary (Blackwell) Howell, was born at Brooklyn, Xew
York, November 9, 1878. He was educated at the Hotchkius
school in Lakeville, Connecticut, and later attended Yale
University, from which he was graduated in the class of 1900.
He immediately commenced an active business career and be-
came a partner in the tirm of B. H. Howell, Son and Company,
of which he is an active member at the })resent day.

Mr. Howell married, Feln-uary 8, 1902, Helen Akin, daugh-
ter of Albro and Emma (Read) Akin, and they are the parents
of two children: Thomas A. W., born l)ecend)er 12, 1902; and
William H., born March 6, 1905.

The history of this family goes back to the earliest settle-
ment of Flushing, on Long Island, and there is reason to believe


that it was of Freiicli Huguenot origin, and tradition reports
tliat they came from Xonnandy, the original form of the name
being- d'Emliree. As the name ai)]!ears in this country many
years before the Huguenot immigration of KiSG, they were proli-
ably among the hirge number of families who fled from France to
Holland to escape jiersecution, and from thence came to America
with the Dutch. Their first settlement was in Westchester,
from whence they removed to Long island. One of the earliest
mentions of the name is in the will of Nicholas Parcell or Pears-
all, dated March 10, 1689-90. In this he leaves a legacy "to
Rol)ert Embree, son of my daughter Sarah Embree." She was
probaltly the wife of John Embree, whose name appears at an
early date. About the same time appears the name of Moses
Embree (iirol)ably a brother of John) and these two seem to be
the ])rogenitors of the race.

Roliert Embree was probably the father of John Embree
who married Sarah, daughter of Francis Doughty. She was
born in 1703. Her grandfather, Rev. Francis Doughty, is in-
sejiarably connected with the founding of the town of Flusiiing

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Online LibraryWilliam S. (William Smith) PelletreauHistoric homes and institutions and genealogical and family history of New York (Volume 1) → online text (page 20 of 26)