Peter M. Howell (1805-c.1865) and

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 29 – Peter M. Howell (1805-c.1865)

By – Don Taylor

 There are occasions when you find something totally awesome regarding an ancestor.

Book Cover

I use a simple name and date of birth search often on several sites, one of them is Archive.Org, a great site for many reasons.  Well, a search for “Peter Howell 1805” yielded a book, The Life and Travels of Peter Howell.  OMG – Could it be?  Sure enough, I had found a book about and by Peter Howell, my wife’s ancestor. I used the PDF version on Archive.Org to glean lots of information about Peter’s life; I downloaded the Kindle version for my wife so she could read about him in his words.  I also found that there were two print versions available through Amazon. I bought one of each of the versions as gifts.  I learned that not all reprints are the same.  One of the reprints was good, the other unacceptable. I wrote about my experience with the two versions in a review on Amazon.Com.  Probably one of the greatest finds in the book was a drawing/illustration of Peter, so we can see what he looked like.  A copy of his portrait now adorns our living room “Ancestor Wall.”


Sadly, his “life and travels” never mentions his parent’s names. It does mention a sister, but never her name either. The book did give new information about exactly where he lived and when, as well as new information about his children, one of whom we had never heard of before.

Sometimes a simple search on the right website can yield the most amazing finds. Archive.Org is one of those must search sites that you should include if you don’t already do so.

Bio – Peter M. Howell (1805-c.1865)

Peter M. Howell abt 1849
Source: The Life and Travels of Peter Howell

Peter was born 15 Jul 1805 in Charlotte County, Virginia.

In 1807, his family moved to Buckingham County, Virginia. When he was only 12 years old, his father died.  His mother remarried sometime between 1819 and 1820.  Also about 1819, his half sister (name unknown) married a man named Holman. About 1821, Peter apprenticed himself to Mr. Holman to learn carpentry. Which he did for about 3-1/2 years.  He relocated with Mr. Holman and his half-sister to Alabama, “not far from the Tennessee River.”  By 1827, Peter returned to Buckingham County and was living with his mother and her new husband near Farmville (Prince Edward County).

On June 11th, 1829 Peter married Caroline M. A Pankey in Cumberland County.

The 1830 census finds the young couple living in Cumberland County.  Also, about 1830 their first child, a daughter, Louisiana was born.  In 1832, they lived back in Buckingham County near Willis Mountain. They had two more children in the 1830’s, Phillip C in 1833 and Elizabeth in 1836. In 1937, they appear to have been living on his brother’s (Gideon) land at “Deep Bottom.”

Vintage Photo of Parker's Meeting House
Parker’s Meeting House Source: Sally’s Family Place

The 1840’s census finds the family in the Northern District of Buckingham County, Virginia. In 1842 another son, (great-grandfather) Peter Fletcher Howell was born. We know that Peter had business at the Buckingham County courthouse several times in the 1840s.  In 1845 another son, Lorenzo Dibrell Howell was born. During the 1840s, Peter started preaching regularly, walking everywhere in the area.  He preached in long circuits going from town to town and ranging far and wide. That period of his life is the subject of his book.  In January of 1846, he relocated his family to Murfreesboro, North Carolina about a mile from Parker’s Meeting House.

In 1848, Peter moved to Halifax, North Carolina. In the ensuing years, he became the minister of a church there.

Peter is in the 1860 census but not in the 1870 census, so I believe he died sometime in that decade. I have been unable to located death or burial information regarding Peter.

 Further Actions:

Investigate all Howells in Charlotte County in 1800 looking for Peter’s father.
Investigate all Howells in Buckingham County in 1810 looking for Peter’s father.
Investigate Peter’s siblings’ lives.
Determine church Peter became minister of in Halifax.

List of Greats

[Note: Formatting updated and #32 in List of Greats added on 12 Jul 2017.]

Virginia Memory – Chancery Database

It has been quite a while since I last blogged here. I have many other projects and activities going on. First, I was in Minnesota visiting my mother. I put together many questions and recorded about 4 hours of material, about one hour per session four of the 11 days I was there. I have a project to transcribe the information there and include in my personal tree.

I also did DNA tests for both my mother and me and sent them in to 23 and Me. The great thing about doing both of us is that any relationship matches for me alone must come from my unknown father’s side and any that match on both of us must come from her side. I have also been spending quite a bit of time working on a Burlison line out of Oklahoma for a friend.  I’ve had many interesting findings there as I’ve begun plucking lots of “low hanging fruit.”

I subscribe to many genealogy blogs. One of them is the “Search Tip of the Day – Almost Every Day.”  Michael John Neill’s May 31st blog reminded me about the Virginia Memory site, which is wonderful. He reminded me of the Chancery records there. There are over 220,000 cases indexed in the Chancery database and nearly 5.6 million images of Chancery causes available online. I’m back working on the Howell line, so I thought; I’ve got a couple difficult research areas. I’ll see if maybe I can find something in the Chancery records. 
A quick search for Howell yielded a case between JOHN P WILLIAMS and the administrator of the JOHN P PRICE estate. The case involves 90 pages of documents including a deposition by Peter Howell. It is always wonderful to find a document in an ancestor’s own hand with a signature. His deposition didn’t tell me anything new; Peter lived in Buckingham County in both 1830 (date of the event he wrote about) and 1938 (date of the litigation). However, it does indicate he knew both John Williams and John Price, which may be useful later. There are also many references to Mrs. Pankey who is probably Peter’s wife’s mother; (her father died  about 1829). There are also several references to Holman/Holeman. Peter’s half sister married a Holman about 1819-1820 and there are several Holman’s in Cumberland County during that period. I still need to go through all the documents with a fine tooth comb and see what I can find out about Holman’s as possible. The database includes so many records for Howell, Pankey, and Holman that I should eventually be able to make some new determinations and connections. Just the Chancery records at the Virginia Memory site should keep me busy for days.