The Howlett Family of Thomas, Bureau County Illinois

Contributed by Christine Walters and Stormy Reiley

Christine writes "Stormy Reiley sent me a lot of info on Whiteside County and the family overflowed into Bureau. So I wrote up a story - attached and also 8 photos of interest included in the story. This is the history of the HOWLETT family in Bureau County - the homestead is still there and still in the family now owned by Mrs. Leora Wiseman, Normal Il. The house is occupied by tenants/caretakers but I've not included that information in the article. I did include the location, which is 1 mile west and 1/2 mile south of Thomas, Bureau Co IL."


The Howlett Family Homestead

John Howlett came to New York from Meshingham, Lincolnshire England around 1846, at the age of 21. He had two shillings and a jack knife when he got to the United States. John Howlett tried his luck first in New York, then on to Michigan where 80 acres of stumps and stones discouraged him so he then moved on to Portland Twp. IL in Whiteside County, via boat on the Rock River where he rented land to farm near Spring Hill. His energy and ambition were great.

In 1851 John bought 80 acres in Bureau County Illinois, Fairfield Township, Post Office address being Thomas, IL. This is where he and his bride, Ruhama Ayers, established the   homestead that has endured for so long. He paid $10.00 an acre for his 80 Acre tract of land which he purchased from Cynthia Hunt, an aunt of Mrs. Pearl Webb of Sheffield IL. On the land was a one and a half story log house and a pole barn with slough grass atop it to shed water.

John took time out from his busy life to come to the aide of his newly adopted country and entered into the civil war on January 18, 1865. He enlisted in Chicago, Co B, 9th Regiment IL Volunteer Cavalry. The papers show his residence as Elk Grove, Cook Co IL at the time. The description given was 5' 10" tall, brown hair, blue eyes and light complexion. He signed up for one year and was discharged on October 31, 1865 in Selma Alabama.

On May 23, 1891, according to the Tampico Tornado - " Mr. and Mrs. John Howlett and Mrs. McLean start to-day (Saturday) for New York where they will take a steamer for England. Mr. Howlett made the trip in 1876 and was so well pleased with his visit that he has longed to make another visit. He has a mother there to visit. Mrs. McLean goes to visit her mother, who will return with the party."
Within 30 years, John Howlett had increased his land holdings from the original 80 acres to 750 acres, besides a home in Tampico where he moved in 1882. But retirement wasn't for him. Before long, he and his wife were back on a farm, remaining for a couple years before returning to Tampico where he died in 1907 at the age of 82 followed in death the next year by his wife at the age of 85. John Howlett, the son of Robert and Mary Howlett, was born 18 April 1825 and died 20 January 1907. His wife Ruhama Ayers was born 7 August 1823 in Pennsylvania, the daughter of John and Elizabeth Ayers. She was 6 years old when her parents left Pennsylvania and headed west. Her mother died on the way and was buried on the prairie. Her father settled at Dixon, IL. Ruhama died 19 April 1909 and both are buri ed in the Tampico Memorial Cemetery.

John Howlett Memorial

The children of John & Ruhama (Ayers) Howlett were all born in Thomas, Bureau County IL.

1.  Mary Martha Howlett born 25 November 1852 died 16 April 1936, married Peter K. Johnson

2.  George Washington Howlett born 1854 married Elizabeth Ruck, resided in Whiteside County

3.  Ellen Howlett born 28 July 1858 died 11 September 1859

4.  Oliver Howlett born 20 May 1860. He was married to Betty Newell 22 February 1881 in New Bedford, Bureau Co IL. At the same time he and Betty married, his parents retired to a home they owned in Tampico, Illinois. Oliver & Betty took over farming the homestead. The parents came back to the homestead when Betty died on the 23 January 1885 from complications of childbirth after the birth of Floyd. They returned to their home in Tampico when Oliver married Phoebe Thompson three months later. In 1910 Oliver and Phoebe moved to Canada. Kate and Minnie were the only children that didn't go.

Oliver Howlett

Betty Newell

Oliver and Betty Newell Howlett had two children - both born in Bureau County:
A. Maude Mae Howlett born 10 October 1882, died 14 March 1938 in Whiteside Co. She married Joseph Bernard Reiley and after their marriage they made their home in Tampico, Whiteside County.. You will find their story http://genealogytrails.com/ill/whiteside/familyreiley3.html here.

B. F loyd E. Howlett.  Floyd was born 24 October 1884 He died 9 January 1970 in Princeton.  Selma H. Heurlin the wife of Floyd, was born 2 April 1884, died 23 March 1976.

Oliver and his second wife, Phoebe Thompson, had 10 children all born in Bureau County

C. Elmer James Howlett born 2 January 1886 died 14 March 1949. Never married.

D. Vergle Leroy Howlett born 3 October 1888 died 23 December 1980, Myrtle Acheson

E. Kate Elizabeth Howlett bor n 6 May 1892, James Carl Johnstone

Floyd E. Howlett

F. Minnie Nellie Howlett born 2 July 1893 died 14 July 1947, married Clyde Morse
The funeral of Mrs. Minnie Morse, 53, who passed away at 6am Friday in the Round Grove convalescent home, will be held at 2pm Sunday in the Tampico Methodist church, the Rev. Hollis Wharton officiating. Interment will be in the Greenville-fairfield cemetery. Mrs. Morse had been a patient in the home since February. Death followed a lingering illness. The former Minnie Howlett, daughter of Oliver and Phoebe Howlett, was born July 2, 1893, in Fairfield township, Bureau county. She received her education in the Thomas schools and had spent her entire lifetime in Bureau and Whiteside county with the exception of a few years she resided in Canada. She w as married to Clyde Morse and to this union was born one daughter, Lavonna Mae, who died at the age of four years. Mrs. Morse had for a number of years been a practical nurse. Surviving Mrs. Morse are her mother, seven brothers and three sisters, all residing in Canada. She was preceded in death by her father and one sister.

G. Harvey Raymond Howlett born 7 February 1897 died 2 August 1950 in Canada, married Elizabeth Ans

H. Zeta Beatrice Howlett born 21 May 1900 died 30 August 1982 in Canada, married George Bye

I. Gladys Maybell Howlett born 12 May 1901 died 21 January 1998 in Canada, married Harvey Simmons

J. Howard Henry Howlett born 8 July 1902 died 14 January 1968, married Miss Brotherson

K. Artie Dewayne Howlett born 19 January 1905 died 13 December 1983 in Canada.

L. Clarence Edward Howlett born 14 December1906 died 15 August 1972

Floyd (top left) and Maude holding the baby with some of the siblings


5. Esther Ann Howlett born 3 November 1862 died 4 August 1934 in Whiteside Co., married Simon Newell and David Hientzeiman

6. John R. Howlett born 7 December 1864 died 20 September 1905 in Whiteside Co., married Mary L. Burge

7. Charles D. Howlett born 19 November 1865 died 31 March 1927

8. Alice Nettie Howlett born 15 March 1871 died 16 January 1931, married James Albert Thompson

9. Patience Astrep Howlett born 22 September 1872 died 24 November 1955, married Charles Emery and William Fullerton.

10. Elizabeth Howlett born 12 January 1876 died 1 April 1931.

11. Minnie Maria Howlett born 30 April 1878 died 12 August 1963, married Charles Rogers.

When Minnies' father died in 1907, she was living in Thom as, Illinois. Minnie's brother Oliver lived on the Homestead. When he moved to Canada in 1910, Minnie and her husband took over farming the Homestead, her parents farm. At a later date, her brother Charles moved in on the Homestead and took over the farming

12. Frank William Howlett born 6 April 1879 died 20 January 1960. Frank married Elizabeth Klobes. Frank took over farming the Homestead in 1918 when his brother Charles moved out. Frank lived there 14 years and moved to Tampico, IL in 1932. The Homestead was sold at that time, and was bought by his neice Blanche Fullerton/Mrs. John Thomas

Howletts Dedicate Plaque to Early Settlers at Yearly Reunion

Clock from pioneer home. The family of twelve children learned to tell time by watching it and listen ing to the ticking and the stricking that were so much a part of life in the family circle as the singing tea kettle on the kitchen stove. Mrs. Minnie Rogers includes the clock among her cherished possessions. Hewn with a broadax, timbers used to frame the large barn on the Howlett farm in 1869 are still in good condition. Floyd Howlett of Sheffield, grandson of the early settler, examines a splice pegged with wooden pins. The barn stands straight and strong despite its remarkable age.

**(Minnie Howlett Rogers is the daughter of the Pioneer Settler, John & Ruhama (Ayers) Howlett. Floyd is the son of Oliver & Betty (Newell) Howlett, the grandson of John)

"In Memory of John and Ruhama Howlett Who Settled This Farm 1851 - Erected by the Howlett Reunion"


Children of John & Ruhama Howlett shown here - Frank Howlett, Minnie Howlett Rogers and Patience Howlett Emery

The homestead is located about 1 mile west and 1/2 mile south of Thomas, Bureau County IL

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