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.

[amazon_link asins=’0666887950,B005G1DDBQ’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’dtaygen-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8325b694-291c-11e8-b3bf-2344f8a0748c’]




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. 

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, 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).