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Howe Family Correspondence

Identifier: mss-888

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of correspondence received by Frances "Frank" Howe from her father, brother, cousins, and friends. She was based in Northfield, Vermont during the Civil War. A small number of letters between other family members are also present (ex. one letter from William to his mother). Though the letters reference outgoing correspondence, almost none of "Frank's" writings are present. The letters detail military pay and home finances, illness, requests for goods and news from home, accounts of daily life including field and camps, and opinions on military leaders. They show close familial relationships and religious sentiment. One notable exchange from January, 1863 details the efforts of Mr. Hutchinson, a friend of her father, to secure an occupation for Frances in the Internal Revenue Service in Washington, D.C. The job consisted of copying information into a ledger from 9 am until 4 pm for $50 per month. The application process appears to involve requests to members of Congress. Friends and extended family members represented in the letters include cousins Emilie A. Cady and Henry Cady, friends C. W. Comings, L. A. Smith, R. M. Joyce, Inez R. Joyce, Sarah R., W. Hutchinson, and the Samsons. The collection is arranged chronologically.


  • 1856-1866

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biographical / Historical

David L. Howe (1817-1905) was born in Thetford, Vermont and raised in Woodstock. He was a book binder and printer, by trade. He mainly worked for newspapers including the Vermont Mercury, Green Mountain Herald, and Woodstock Standard. He was a ranking Mason and noted gardener. He married Elizabeth Silver (about 1809-1859) and they had two children, Frances "Frank" (1838-1913, see below) and William W. (1840-1862, see below). In 1866, David remarried Mary Ann Hoisington (1817-1904).

David L. Howe enlisted in Company I of the 11th Infantry Regiment of the Vermont Volunteers, the First Heavy Artillery, on July 30, 1862. His residence was listed as Northfield, Vermont. He was mustered in on September 1, 1862 and served at the rank of Corporal. On December 26, 1863, David was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and role of Company Quartermaster, which he considered a relatively safe and desirable position. His regiment was engaged mainly at various sites in Virginia, starting in 1864, including Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. He was mustered out on June 24, 1865.

William enlisted as a Private in Company F of the First Regiment on May 2, 1861. His residence is listed as Northfield, Vermont. He was mustered in on May 9, 1861 for a three month term. The regiment was engaged at Big Bethel, Virginia. William was mustered out on August 15, 1861. Shortly thereafter, on August 27, 1861, he re-enlisted with Company K of the Fourth Vermont Infantry Regiment at the rank of Corporal. He was mustered in on September 21, 1861 for a three year term of service. His regiment was engaged at sites in Virginia, including Lee's Mills and Antietam. William was hospitalized and died of disease on December 8, 1862 in Belle Plain, Virginia. He is buried in Northfield, Vermont.

Frances married Lyman Powers in 1864. He worked for the railroad as a baggage master and conductor. He died after accidentally being struck by a train in 1875. They had four children, including two daughters who died in childhood. Their two sons survived. Nelson Dexter Powers (1869-1960) married Frances, an English immigrant. They had one son, Albert William Powers. Nelson worked as a salesman in a department store in Massachusetts and also as a streetcar conductor. Albert Lyman Powers (1871-1947) married Josephine Hubbard (d. 1937) and had one daughter, Lucille. He attended Dartmouth College (class of 1895), the University of Vermont (class of 1896), and worked as a pharmacist in Northampton, Massachusetts and Woodstock, Vermont.


0.2 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Collection consists of family correspondence between Miss Frances "Frank" Howe, her brother William, and father David during the Civil War. Letters to "Frank" from cousins and friends are also present.


Some information loss has resulted from failure of ink or pencil, wet conditions (previous to acquisition), incomplete letters, and illegible writing.

Physical Location

Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Processing Information

David L. Howe's birth year changes from 1814 to 1823 between the 1860 and 1880 federal census (his entry for 1870 has not been located). His grave marker uses 1817 as his birth year and thus it is used here.

David's second wife is referred to in his obituary as "Mrs. Mary Ann Hoisington" (Spirit of the Age, 1905 February 11). An obituary for "Mrs. David Howe" states "Mrs. Howe's maiden name was Lydia Darling Forbes" while also mentioning a second marriage to David L. Howe in December 1865 (St. Albans Daily Messenger, 1904 April 12). David and Mary Ann Howe are buried under the same grave marker, which includes the inscription "His wife Mary Ann." Her obituary appears to include a mistake in which her mother's information is mistakenly stated as her own; a death record for Mary Ann Howe in 1904 gives her mother's maiden name as Lydia Darling and father's name as Forbes.

Guide to the Howe Family Correspondence
2018 July
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)