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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Thomas William Howell

The remarkable changes wrought in California for more than thirty-five years past have been witnessed by Thomas W. Howell, who since his arrival on the western coast in 1874 has spent the greater part of the intervening time in Sonoma county. The descendant of southern ancestry, he was born in Lafayette county, Mo., in 1862, the son of parents who were also natives of that state. The father is still living, but the mother passed away when her son was a small child; after her death he became an inmate of the home of his maternal grandparents, by whom he was reared until able to became self-supporting.

When he was twelve years old Mr. Howell's grandparents immigrated to California, settlement being made on the Sacramento river in Colusa county, and this continued to be their home for about eight years. In the meantime Mr. Howell had grown to young manhood, and having had considerable experience as a farm hand he ventured out on his own behalf. For about two years he was not definitely located, working on ranches in various .parts of the state until 1884, when he came to Sonoma county. It was some time after locating here, in 1906, that he selected and purchased the ranch on which he has since lived, on Rural Route No. 5 from Santa Rosa. This is an exceptionally choice piece of land, comprising twenty-three acres, besides which he has seventy-five acres of leased land. The greater part of the last-mentioned land is in hay, of which his crop for the season of 1909 amounted to one hundred and fifteen tons. Sixteen acres of his own land is in hops, this crop yielding bountifully also, his returns for the season just mentioned being $1,000. Six acres of prunes upon the leased land brought $600, a very satisfactory return, indeed all of his crops of that season more than met his expectation, and his prospects for the present year are even brighter. He also raises sufficient horses for his own needs.

In 1885 Mr. Howell was united in marriage with Miss Anna Burns, a native of the county in which she still lives, and five children have been born of this marriage. The eldest, May Elizabeth, became the wife of Garrett Nelligan, and with her husband and one child is living in Suisun City. Pearl H. is unmarried and engaged in the millinery business in Santa Rosa. The other children, Myrtle L., Ralph I. and Raymond M., are all at home. Mrs. Howell's parents were natives of Ireland, and both are now deceased.

Politically Mr. Howell is a Democrat, and fraternally is identified with a number of orders, among them the Woodmen of the World, the Knights of Columbus and a branch of the Woodcraft. In the best sense of that much abused term Mr. Howell is a self-made man, circumstances depriving him of the natural parental protection, although his grandparents did all in their power to supply this lack. He has always been interested in the welfare of children, especially in providing them with good school facilities, as his work in behalf of education will testify. He has one sister, Mrs. Dexter Turtle, living in Santa Rosa.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011