Biography - Thomas Howell

THOMAS M. HOWELL, a worthy representative of the grand army of veterans who fought so nobly for the honor of the Old Flag during the late war, comes of the sturdy pioneer stock that settled Johnson County. He is a native of its soil, and is identified with the industrious, thrifty farmers who are conducting its agriculture, his farm and home being pleasantly situated on the southeast quarter of section 9, Grantsburg Township. This farm, which his father hewed out from the forests, is also his birthplace.
Our subject is a son of A. D. Howell, who was born and brought up on a Kentucky farm. When the grandfather of our subject was an elderly man he decided to settle upon the rich river bottoms of Missouri, and started for his destination with teams, accompanied by his wife, six sons and three daughters. On the journey he was taken sick and died, which was a severe blow to the family, who scarcely knew what to do. The trip to Missouri was abandoned, and they decided to settle in southern Illinois, near where they were stopping. The boys entered land, and the father of our subject thus secured eighty acres. He built a typical pioneer log cabin, and shortly after being married to Miss Dulcina Poor, took possession of that humble abode with his bride. They were without money with which to begin their new life, but they were full of courage and hope, and worked well together in the upbuilding of a home. The land, being heavily covered with a forest growth, had to be cleared and most of the timber burned. Mr. Howell made good headway against the difficulties that beset his pathway, placed his land under good cultivation, built a better house, and just had things arranged more comfortably and was ready to enjoy life more at his ease, when death called him hence. His wife survived him ten years and then passed away, and was buried by his side in Grantsburg Cemetery, on the land that he had bought, and where he had made a home. He and his wife had several children, of whom five are living: Thomas M.; John W., who resides on a part of the old homestead; James, a farmer in Grantsburg Township; S. P., who also resides in Grantsburg Township; and Missouri, wife of Louis Walker. Pleasant and Sarah died on the old place.
Thomas M. Howell was the second child born to his parents. He had to work on his father's farm when a boy and had but very little opportunity to go to school, not even enough to acquire the rudiments of learning, and he did not learn to read until after he was nineteen years old, while he was in the army. Although unlettered and poor, he had a brave and loyal heart that beat with true patriotic love for his country, and at the youthful age mentioned he volunteered to help fight her battles when rebellion threatened the Union. His name was enrolled as a member of Company I, One Hundred and Twentieth Illinois Infantry, and he went with his regiment to Camp Butler, thence to Memphis, and from there to Vicksburg, where he bore his part right gallantly in the siege and conquest of that city, as well as in numerous other engagements with the enemy while at the front. After the affair at Guntown Mr. Howell was taken violently sick from being over-heated, and was sent to the soldiers' home at Memphis to convalesce. He had good care, or otherwise his long illness of twelve months might have resulted differently. He received his discharge papers nearly a month before the rest of his regiment, and left the army after three long and weary years of hard service.
Our subject returned home after his discharge, intending to re-enlist, but sickness in the family made it necessary to abandon all thoughts of taking up a soldier's life again, as his duty seemed to demand his presence here. He took up his labors on the old homestead once more, and lived upon it until his marriage with Miss Mollie Henderson, a native of North Carolina, who came here when she was twelve years old with her mother and two uncles. Her union with our subject has been blessed to them by the birth of seven children, namely: Cora, wife of James Thomas, of Grantsburg Township; Ida, Rosella, Stella, Frank, Fleety, and Augusta, who died in infancy.
After his marriage our subject took his bride to live in a house that he had built on a tract of sixty acres of land that his father had given him. Seven years later he bought one hundred and thirty-three acres of land, partly improved, a mile and a-half north of his other place, and after living on that thirteen years purchased sixty acres of the land originally entered by his grandfather, and he is now successfully engaged in its cultivation and in raising a good class of stock. Here he and his family have a cozy, hospitable home, and he and his good wife live in the enjoyment of the esteem due to their worth.

Extracted 23 Apr 2016 from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 221-222.

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