Searching for Peter M Howell’s father

Once again, I’m back to trying to determine Peter M. Howell’s father.

Available through

What little I do know about Peter’s father was gleaned from Peter’s book, The Life and Travels of Peter Howell by Peter M. Howell. From it, we know that Peter was born 15 July 1805, so there is a presumption that Peter’s father lived in Charlotte County, Virginia, in 1805. We know that the family moved to Buckingham County, Virginia in 1807. We also know that Peter’s father died when Peter was 12 years old (c. 1817). Finally, just for ballpark purposes, I conjecture that Peter’s father was likely somewhere between 20 and 45 when Peter was born. That gives the following:

Unknown father of Peter M. Howell

  • Probably born between 1760 and 1785.
  • Resided Charlotte County, VA. 1805.
  • Resided Buckingham County, VA 1807.
  • Died Buckingham County, VA 1817-18.

1810 Census

In 1810 Peter M. Howell’s family should have been in Buckingham County. The family would have consisted of at least his father, his mother, and him, being under 10 years of age.

An Ancestry Search revealed the following households:

James Howel No Males Under 10
Gideon Howel 1 Male Under 10 Candidate
Isaac Howel Other ???
Jane Howel No Males
John Howel No Males Under 10
Pleasant Howel 1 Male Under 10 Candidate
Stephen Howel 1 Male Under 10 Candidate

So, that leaves three candidates remaining from the 1810 Census. Peter Howell’s father died in 1817, so he should not appear in the 1820 Census.

Isaac Howel shows as a Free Person of Color in the 1920 Census. Stephen Howl is in the 1820 census so it can’t be him. That leaves Gideon and Pleasant as potential candidates as neither show in the 1820 Census.

Stepping back to the 1800 census, Peter Howell’s father should be in Charlotte County, not Buckingham County. Sadly, the 1800 Census for Virginia doesn’t appear to exist. Ancestry has a reconstructed census but it appears to only include Accomack County. So, the 1800 Census is a dead end.

I am quite certain that, based on the 1810 Census, James is not the father of Peter M. Howell as some researchers suggest. Rather, I believe Peter M. Howell’s father’s name is either Gideon or Pleasant.

Peter M. Howell mentions he “brother” Gideon in his book. If his brother was Gideon, could his father be Gideon also?

In any event, material is being added to the Internet constantly. It is possible that sometime in the future a key document proving Peter M. Howell’s father’s name will become available online. I’ll keep a lookout for it.

Future Actions

  1. Contact Charlotte County Historical Society regarding the Howells in Charlotte County between 1780 and 1809
  2. Contact the Buckingham County Historical Society regarding the Howells in Buckingham County between 1800 and 1830.
  3. Do a surname study of Howells in Charlotte and Buckingham counties, Virginia.
  4. Hire a professional genealogist in Charlotte and/or Buckingham county to search for materials regarding the Howell families there.
  5. Visit Charlotte and Buckingham County and search for records myself.

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