Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Finding the Lost Family

I mentioned in a previous post that I would write about my "Lost Family," the one I "discovered" thirteen years ago while involved in genealogy research.

The Howell surname originated in Wales

Before the days of the Internet, finding such information was near impossible, or else would require untold hours of grueling work and travel time. But now, researchers and historical associations are sharing massive amounts of digital files to aid those interested in discovering their roots.

I don't recall exactly how I found the lady in Colorado who so freely shared information; at times you follow one link after the other and it's impossible to reverse the steps and know how you got there!

She is a Howell descendant and researcher, having spent years tracing her family. She was kind enough to tell me her personal memories of her family, as well as send an unpublished manuscript another researcher had compiled. 

Between those two sets of information, I learned the following facts -- heretofore unknown by any of my family members living at that time (2001); I say "at that time" because it's possible older family members now deceased knew all or part of this):

  • Moses and Jemina Howell were the grandparents of Poppy Howell.They moved from Virginia to Tennessee after the American Civil War (1860-1864).  
  • Moses and Jemina had ten children -- eight sons, one of which was Solomon (father of Poppy) and two daughters.
  • Solomon and all his siblings were born in Lincoln County, Tennessee.
  • Solomon married Sarah Sandlin in 1863. They had three children, two daughters and one son. 
  • Sarah died (year unknown) and one of Solomon's brothers moved his family to Ben Wheeler, Van Zandt County, Texas, taking Solomon's two daughters with him. No record has yet been found of the son, neither in Texas nor elsewhere. Numerous researchers have tried to find information about him, but to no avail.
  • Solomon remained in Lincoln County, Tenn., and eventually moved to Limestone County, Ala., where he married Georgia Ann Stanton in 1873.
The lady who provided the above information is a descendant of Solomon's brother who moved to Texas.

The connecting link -- the way I know this is our family -- is the marriage of Solomon to Georgia Ann. She is the mother of Poppy!

The lady in Colorado had no knowledge that Solomon married again and had a son (Poppy), nor did she have information about his death.

Now we know from a family story that Poppy's daddy (Solomon) was "killed with a baseball bat by a man in Elkton, Tenn." That's what we've heard all our lives, but that's all we knew.

As I mentioned in the previous post, several of our family members have tried unsuccessfully over the years to find out more about Solomon, details of his death and where he is buried.

Now here's the "kicker" to this story. Early today, as I was assembling my notes in preparation of writing this post, I was doing a bit of additional research on the Internet. And what did I find? THIS!!!

Source: Lincoln County Pioneers publication

KILLEDWe clip the following paragraph from a Pulaski letter dated October 31st, to the American. The killed man is thought to have been a native of this county. His father, Moses Howell, was one of our early citizens, and moved a few years ago to Limestone County, Ala., where he is now living, unless he has recently died. Solomon Howell left Lincoln County about 5 or 6 years ago, and was then unmarried.

At Kelly’s Ford, near Elkton, on last Saturday evening, Lewis Kelly struck Sol. Howell on the head with a base-ball bat from which death almost immediately ensued. Howell was about forty years old, and leaves a wife and two children. He was drinking at the time and brought about the difficulty. Kelly is a quiet young man, of good family, but it is said he was not justifiable in killing Howell. He has left the country.

This is what many of us have been searching for many years -- some sort of documentation of how Solomon Howell died. 

I cannot tell you how gratified I am to have finally solved this mystery. I should have made a career as a detective!

Of the two daughters -- Poppy's half-sisters -- who went to Texas with their uncle:

One (Jenny) never married; the other (Elizabeth) married and had three children. 

I'll leave it for future family genealogists to sort through and try to find the offspring of these relatives!

For me, two mysteries remain:

1) Where is Solomon buried?

2) If the entry in the publication above is correct -- if Solomon Howell left TWO children -- what happened to the other one? Could the second child mentioned be an additional one belonging to Georgia Ann? or could it be the unaccounted for son of Sarah Sandlin?

Ah, something else to keep me busy for awhile I'm sure.

This is the last post on the family genealogy subject. And I thought you all might like to know that I've begun work to consolidate all the family information I have into a book. Wish me luck because I have a great deal of hard work ahead of me.


  1. Wow, Sanda, that gave me goosebumps just reading it. Well done for turning up this piece of your family history. Good luck with the book, and I know you will do a brilliant job of it.

    1. Thanks Patricia. I was rather shocked to find that entry about Solomon's death, after having searched for documentation for so many years. Suppose it goes to prove we find what we're looking for when we least expect to. I am excited about my new project!

  2. It must have been exciting to find that missing piece after all your searching. The book will be a great undertaking. I'm sure you have family members who will appreciate your efforts. Good luck with it.


    1. I feel that sharing all the information I have accumulated over the years is something I must do. I don't want the stories I know to become lost to future family members who may be interested in knowing these things.

  3. I cousin in Glasgow, Scotland, was recently contacted by another cousin in Brisbane, Australia, who was able to share some photographs about which we are very excited. We now know that three, not two, of the sons of my great-great-grandfather immigrated to Australia from Scotland and I now have a photograph of my great-great-grandfather!

    1. That is an exciting find for you! Isn't it interesting how we feel we become attached to those we never knew? Sometimes feel I am "living their life" as I learn more about them.

  4. Wow!!!! No wonder you are under the weather today after all that! Sounds like you're about ready to start the book we've talked about a long time. You are a wonderful writer and researcher/detective!

    1. Maybe all this effort did sap my strength and allow this cold to take hold! I am frantically organizing my information and planning how I want to present it. Yes, the book has been taking shape in my mind for years but I think I'm finally ready to get on with it now. I will need you to push me along if I slack up along the way!

  5. Very good work Sanda.
    The idea of writing a book out of this all sounds perfect : )

    1. Thanks Mette. It is said one should write only about what one knows so maybe this is the perfect topic for me.

  6. Had a quick look at HB's Victorian set of genealogical books,the Howells of Wales coat of arms has a red background with 3 castles/towers in the foreground,and the family motto suits your project well..."Vires in Arduis" = Strength in Difficulties!!
    Have read through all of your family posts,enjoy the photos +sharing their lives.Wonderful family history to pass down to the following generations.

    1. Thanks Judith. The family motto is good! I don't want my little book to be just the dry genealogy of charts and names. What makes it all interesting are the stories of the people.

  7. Hello Sandra, your brother Mike gave me the link to your blog, oh boy and I glad he did. I have learned a lot more about my Howell research by reading it. I have several comments to make to your information and some things to add that I think you will be proud to get. I am glad I read the Lincoln County Pioneers publication about Solomon Howell's death, wish it had a year added to it. I can tell you all about Solomon and Sarah's son, his name was John J Howell and he is my husband's great grandfather on his daddy's side. Please give me a shout and me can talk more about the Howell's. Please use dbmcbay55@hotmail.com to contact me, I notice that there is another email here, please don't use that one as it is for my sewing purposes only, the Hotmail is my personal email. Excited to hear from you.


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