The Life and Travels of Peter Howell by Himself

This week I began research on the Howell Family Tree (my wife’s).  I had very little on her grandfather, a bit more on his father (who was in the Civil War) and very little about his father Peter Howell.

Unfortunately, or fortunately as it turned out, her grandfather, went by his initials most of the time. I knew he was a Baptist preacher in North Carolina. So I started searching Baptist records in North Carolina just searching for “Howell” and not his first name, nor his initials, just “Howell.”  Suddenly a WOW!  Up popped a book, “The Life and Travels of Peter Howell”.  My wife’s great and her 2nd great grandfathers were both named Peter Howell.  Could this be the same Peter Howell.  Found the book was at a library in Raleigh reference section.  I then searched around for the title elsewhere and found it at archive.org, which is a must site for your searches.  I downloaded the files and began to read.  It was the right one, born 1805, married to Caroline Pankey, lived in Virginia…. it was the right Peter Howell.

The first page was a bit of a disappointment, he mentions his birthdate (which we didn’t have before) but not his parent’s names.  He spent his adult life as an itinerant preacher. He traveled from town to town preaching in people’s homes, at court houses, at Methodist and Baptist churches, even on occasion at quaker meeting halls, masonic temples and a Catholic Church. He walked almost everywhere putting on over two thousand miles walking in one year preaching at hundreds of places.  He describes town, buildings, such as the Virginia and North Carolina State Houses, as well as places like Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills.  He mentions churches,  and most importantly people throughout his travels. Sadly, he mentions very little about his personal life or his family, but the book does provide a wonderful insight into the life of a itinerate preacher of the 1840’s.

He seldom ever mentions his two daughters.  He does correct one name Lousianna (I had Laurana previously) but never mentions the name of his second son nor his second daughter. He confirmed the name of his first son and, in the book, corrects the name I had for his youngest child.  More importantly, he provides county information for his parents, marriage information for a sister, and the names and living locations for a couple brothers that I had no information about.

It took many hours to go through the book, determine genealogically interesting information, and incorporate them and the source references into my tree.  

Of course one of the greatest finds in the book was a drawing of the author, Peter Howell (b. 1805).

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