My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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HON. ROSWELL FENTON HOWARD. Xenia is the home of many attorneys, whose varied knowledge and keen perceptive qualities have rendered them conspicuous in the bar of the State, but perhaps the most prominent among them is this gentleman, who commencing to practice here in 1837, has not only been in active practice longer than any other lawyer, but is, doubtless owing to his long residence here, also the best known of all those conspicuous in this profession. The senior member of the firm of Howard & Howard, his legal ability is unquestioned and his forensic talents have been often displayed before judge and jury. His extended knowledge has won for him the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts, while his service in the legislative halls have won for him the title of Honorable, by which he is familiarly known. A worthy scion of a family that has given this nation men of brains and upright character, he enjoys the esteem of those to whom he is known, and has gained a worthy position in life.

The immediate progenitor of our subject was Cyrus Howard, a native of Vermont, whence he removed to Hamilton County, Ohio, at an early period in its history. As one of the pioneers of that section he carried on the labor incident to developing a farm from the heavy timber of the primeval forest, making for himself and family a comfortable home in the midst of the surrounding wilderness. He married Miss Lucy Fenton, whose home was near North Bend, and they became the parents of a large family of children. The cause of common schools found in him an ardent advocate, as it did among all those sturdy residents of New England, and he aided in introducing the first school into that locality. The people out of their scanty means subscribed a sufficient amount for the erection of a good brick building, and after its erection, the school was maintained an entire year, a very unusual circumstance even in older communities. Mr. Howard was a strong Whig, and voted for John Quincy Adams and William Henry Harrison. His ideas were quite in the advance of those times, and his influence was great, although he avoided public honors. His death occurred in February, 1851, his widow surviving him until April 25, 1885, when she passed from earth at the extreme old age or ninety-two years. She was a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

The eldest son of this worthy couple was Solomon, who was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and a distinguished scholar and educator. He received his diploma from Augusta College, Ky., after which he was elected Principal of the Grammar school. He taught school at St. Charles, Mo., in the Academy at Springfield, Ohio, and in the Wesleyan University at Delaware, Ohio. For more than twenty years he was the honored President of Ohio University at Athens, and while there received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Miami University and the degree of Doctor of Laws from Iowa State University. He died August 11, 1873, at San Jose, Cal., mourned by the many to whom his talents and upright character had endeared him.

The gentleman whose name initiates this sketch was born in what is now College Hill, Hamilton County, Ohio, July 20, 1814, and was in his youth the recipient of more than ordinary advantages in the way of culture. He was a student of Latin and Greek while still at home, and while acquiring a good understanding of the usual branches taught in the lower grades of his home school. He entered Miami University but left in his junior year, and going to Augusta, Ky., completed the college course at the school there, from which he was graduated in 1832, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. He afterward received the degree of Master of Arts from the same college.

After leaving college Mr. Howard taught for a time in the Woodward High School, at Cincinnati, later taking up the study of law under Daniel J. Caswell and Jacob Piatt. Entering the law school at the same place he was graduated in 1837 with the degree of Bachelor of Laws and at once established himself for practice in Xenia. This city at that time contained a population of about fifteen hundred, to whom the young lawyer was totally unknown. Without money, friends or influence, he located here and has made his way to prominence in a court that was attended by brilliant attorneys from adjoining counties. He has been in practice here for fifty-three years, the longest period of any living resident.

Although he has given most of his time to his profession, Mr. Howard has held some public offices. He was a member of the Council and Mayor several years, as well as a member of the Board of School Examiners. In 1866 he was elected to the Legislature on the Whig ticket, serving one term under the old constitution and two under the new. While in the legislative body he was appointed on several important committees, among them being the Judiciary and Penitentiary. He still continues his professional work, and although one of the the veterans, is yet energetic, keen and discriminating.

In Miss Margaret Steele, of this city, Mr. Howard found the qualities of mind and heart that he thought desirable in a companion, and to her he was united in marriage May 2, 1848. She was a daughter of Prof. Thomas Steele, who taught here until old age compelled his withdrawal from such arduous duties as accompanying the profession of a teacher. Mrs. Howard was the recipient of an excellent education, and was a lady of culture. To her and her husband were born nine children, of whom two are yet living. Charles Fenton, the eldest, was educated for the bar, but owing to poor health, has not practiced actively. He is, however, a man of high legal ability. He is now Mayor of Xenia, having been elected in 1888, just fifty years after his father received the same honor; he was re-elected in 1890, and is serving to the entire satisfaction of the community. His administration is characterized by the active interest he takes in all public measures relating to the social and commercial prosperity of the city. Another son, William Steele, was educated in this city and after reading law with his father, entered the law school at Cincinnati fifty years after his father had entered the same school and was graduated from that institution just fifty-two years after our subject received his diploma. He is now a member of the law firm of Howard & Howard.

Subsequently to the death of his wife our subject married Miss Mary Hanna Pollock, whose home was near Belle Center, Logan County, Ohio. She is the daughter of William and Fanny Pollock, and was born in Carrol County, this State. She possesses the estimable character and cultured mind that fits her for the position she occupies in society and at the head of the family. The handsome home over which she presides is adorned by one of the finest libraries in this part of the State, comprising volumes that embody the best thoughts of the sages, poets and scientists of different centuries, and is a source of recreation as well as instruction to Mr. Howard, his family and friends.

A lithographic portrait* of the Hon. Mr. Howard appears elsewhere in this volume.

*A portrait was included in the original printed volume.

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This family biography is one of the many biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890. 

View additional Greene County, Ohio family biographies here: Greene County, Ohio Biographies

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