Powell Howland

1799 - 1878

By: Roger Kemps  © 2011

With significant contributions from Shirley Kelly




The following obituary provides a fairly complete description of the life of Powell Howland. It is presumed to have been published in the Indianapolis Sentinel.


Obituary - Powell Howland

The subject of this brief sketch was born October 16, 1799, in Saratoga County, New York. He is a descendant of the Howland family that first landed in this country in the Mayflower. His father, Elisha Howland, and his grandfather, Edward Howland, were born in the state of Rhode Island, and during the last century settled in Saratoga County, New York. Powell Howland is the oldest of a family of six children, all of whom survive him. The parents of Mr. Howland were people of integrity, energy and enterprise, and were always foremost in every movement for the improvement of the country. As a consequence the subject of this brief sketch received a good education; in fact it may be said his education was thorough and complete. He when quite young determined to qualify himself to enter upon the profession of law, and during his study his father was taken sick, and he being the oldest was requested to charge of his father's business affairs, which he did, and as a consequence his mind was occupied in a different direction, and his desires in the direction of law were relinquished.


On January 27, 1819, he was married to Tamma Morris, a woman of noble impulses, and the issue of this marriage was three children—Tamma Howland, Silas Howland and Morris Howland, who still live, excepting Silas Howland, who died in 1843. Tamma Howland married, and still resides near the old homestead, in Saratoga County, New York. Morris Howland resides near Southport, Marion County, Indiana, and is well known as a man of sterling integrity. His first wife died in a few years, and on December 2, 1823, he married Mahala Thurber, who still survives, and who by her many noble qualities of head and heart, during a long and useful life, has been one of the most useful women of the community in which she has lived. The issue of this marriage has been five children, four of which still survive, and are well known in Marion County---Pamelia Johnson, wife of Oliver Johnson; Elisha J. Howland; Martha F. Hammond, wife of R. R. Hammond, and Charles A. Howland, of Indianapolis. With this family, when quite young, he came to Indiana, and landed on his farm on the 17th day of October, 1839, since which time he has been one of the most active businessmen in Marion County. He was possessed of uncommon energy and in the prime of life when he first settled in Marion County, Indiana, and at once took an active and prominent part in the organization of society and development of the country. He was always foremost in educational matters, and is perhaps one of the oldest members of the Marion County library board of trustees in point of service. He was a member of the state horticultural society from its organization until his death; also a member of the county board of agriculture for many years. He was one of the first to engage under the direction of Governor Joseph A. Wright in the organization of the Indiana state board of agriculture, and for many years he was one of the most active supporters of the state board of agriculture. Who is it that has attended the Indiana state fair and has not seen the exhibition of apples and pears from Powell Howland's orchard? His selection of apples and pears now being cultivated is perhaps the best in Marion County. He also served one term as a member of the board of commissioners of Marion County, and in every business in which he engaged, either public or private, in the settlement of estates or in the management of trust funds during his long and useful life, he always brought to bear a superior capacity for business, excellent judgment, and in every detail exhibited that crowning trait of character which stamped upon his record the truth that Powell Howland lived and died an honest man.


It is believed he built the first gravel road in Marion County, and at the time of his death was actively engaged in the management of four gravel road companies. His position was that a good road always brought your market to the door, and made the land of much greater value than the cost of the road.


He was a successful business man. He was a man of sound judgment, careful and prudent, and seldom if ever made a business mistake. He was not easily influenced by excitement, and was always governed by certain fixed business rules that gave him a clear head in the management of his business affairs. He accumulated a very handsome estate, and was living surrounded by his family and had witnessed the success of all his children when death called him from earth. His family all reside within an hour's drive from his residence, except his oldest daughter, who resides in New York; and it will prove a great source of comfort to Mrs. Howland in her loneliness to know and feel that her children all reside near her and can be with her daily in her bereavement.


Mr. Howland during his entire life was a sterling democrat, and his advice and counsel was often sought in political matters.


On July 28, 1878, he was taken sick. He had for several years been afflicted with gravel, and the last attack came more violent than ever before. He called his wife to his bedside and said, "Mahala, we must part." He suffered without a murmur of complaint, until, on the evening of the eleventh day of his illness, August 7, 1878, at 8:25 in the evening,

"He wrapped the drapery of his couch about him,

And lay down to pleasant dreams."

A firm believer in the immortality of his soul, and that a just God would receive his soul in that house not made by hands, eternal in the heavens.                   W. A. L.



An alternate biography appears in “Sketches of Prominent Citizens of 1876” by John H. B. Nowland and reads as follows:



It is a difficult matter to find a starting point to give the reader a due appreciation of the many fine qualities and virtues of the well-known citizen whose name heads this sketch.


Powell Howland is a native of the Empire State. He was born on the 16th of October, 1799, at the old town of Saratoga, and within four miles of the scene of Burgoyne's defeat, and there remained as a farmer until the 17th of October, 1839, at which time he came to Marion county, and purchased of Benjamin Purcell the farm on which he now resides, containing then but one hundred and sixty acres. This farm is situated four miles north of the city, on the Noblesville road and Peru railroad. He added to this farm until it aggregated three hundred and fifteen acres.


Mr. Howland was never a chronic office seeker, yet he was selected as one of the county commissioners, and also represented the county in the House of Representatives of the State Legislature, and performed his official duties well. He was the first to propose and contribute for a public school in his neighborhood, and had a school house erected on his own land, donating a half acre for the purpose, where he has edu­cated five of his children, one having been educated in New York. His daughter, Mrs. Clements, yet resides in Saratoga county, New York ; one of his daughters is the wife of Oliver Johnson, a well-known farmer of Washington township, and a son of Mr. John Johnson, a pioneer of Marion county ; another daughter is the wife of Resin R. Hammond, a farmer in the same vicinity; the eldest son is Morris Howland, a well-known farmer of Perry township; Elisha J., the second son, and Charles A. Howland, the youngest son, live in the immediate neighborhood of their father.


Mr. Howland has sold one hundred and twenty-one acres of his farm, fifty of which have been laid out as suburban lots of the city.


Mr. Howland has ever taken a lively interest in horticulture as well as agriculture, growing the finest varieties of fruits, making a speciality of grapes and pears. His farm and farm buildings are the pictures of thrift, industry and comfort. He was the personal friend of the late Governor Joseph A. Wright, who, with his family, for some time resided under his hospitable roof.


He was married in the county of his nativity on the 2d of September, 1823, to Miss Mahala Thurber, who is yet his helpmate; her portrait will be seen on the right of her husband's. Although he has passed the seventy-seventh mile stone in the journey of life, he is yet quite active, retaining his mental faculties as fresh as in youth. Nor is Mrs. How­land wanting in either of the above blessings. It is seldom that two persons live together over half a century and both of them possess so much mental as well as physical vigor as they do. Their house has been a favorite place of visiting of young people, both of country and city, ever since they have resided in the country; their hospitality is proverbial. It is but a few days since that a young couple signified their desire to be united in marriage under their roof, which was granted and a sumptuous repast provided.


Mr. Howland cast his first vote for General Jackson in 1824, and has strictly adhered to the party that sprung from his administration ever since.


When Mr. and Mrs. Howland shall be called home the county will lose two of her most worthy and respected citizens, and Indianapolis her most liberal patrons. And they can truly say with Byron,

"I die—but first I have possessed,

And come what may, I have been blessed."



Powell Howland was descended from Mayflower pilgrim George Soule. The thread is: Powell Howland -> Elisha Howland -> Edward Howland -> Samuel Howland -> Sarah Soule -> William Soule -> George Soule -> GEORGE SOULE


Additional newspaper items, linked below, include:


·      An August 1875 trip to New York with his daughter and two grandchildren.

·      July 30, 1878 notice of his sickness.

·      August 1, 1878 sickness update.

·      August 9, 1878 death notice.


Powell Howland left a considerable estate of about $250,000. The distribution was described in the August 20, 1878 Issue of the Indianapolis Sentinel and the August 20, 1878 Issue of the Cincinnati Daily Gazette.


Powell Howland is buried in Fall Creek Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana. An image of his headstone is available at this link. For additional views, see the photos of Mahala’s memorial.


A linked biography is to his granddaughter, Helen Hammond Wright (see August 1875 trip).


Reference files:


Blank Census Forms  provides column headings for the next three items

1800_Elisha_Howland.pdf  Saratoga, New York, see fourth and fifth lines from the bottom

1810_Elisha_Howland.pdf  Halfmoon, Saratoga County, New York, see second and third lines from the bottom

1820_Powell_Howland.pdf  Halfmoon, Saratoga County, New York, see line 14

1860_Powell_Howland.pdf  Center Township, Marion County, Indiana, see line 17

1870_Powell_Howland.pdf  Center Township, Marion County, Indiana, see line 7

Howland_Trip_7_28_1875_Indianapolis_Sentinel.pdf  see last item

P_Howland_Illness_7_30_1878_Indianapolis_Sentinel.pdf  see last item

P_Howland_Illness_8_1_1878_Indianapolis_Sentinel.pdf  see third item





FindAGrave headstone image for Powell Howland with links to his parents and some of his children

FindAGrave headstone image for Mahala Howland shows additional detail

Indianapolis News 01041884 page 4 column 1  Mahala Howland death notice

Sketches_of_Prominent_Citizens_of_1876.pdf  includes additional references to his daughter, Pamelia, and granddaughter, Alice

History_of_Indianapolis_and_Marion_County_Indiana.pdf  includes sketches of Elisha J. Howland, Morris Howland, and Oliver Johnson, husband of Pamelia Howland

Shirley Kelly Research


The following photographs were provided by Wayne McCall


homestead.jpg  the Powell Howland family farm house.

1streunion_O.jpg This photo was taken on the 50th Anniversary of the Powell Howland family arrival in Indianapolis and includes descendants of Powell Howland.

1streunion_ID.jpg  above photo with identifications, courtesy of Shirley Kelly.

lgfamgp_O.jpg  large family group includes descendants of Powell Howland.

lgfamgp2_O.jpg  large family group includes descendants of Powell Howland.



Home Page

Biography Index



Last updated  4/28/2015