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Samuel Luke Howe, 1808-1877

HOWE, SHERMAN, EWING, WILSON, SPEARMAN, DICKEY, HILL, SAUNDERS, BIRD, PANABAKER, NEWBY, HALL, RANSOM SAMPSON, VALKENBURG, LITTLETON, BARRETT, HALLOCK, STANTON, CHIPMAN, BEREMAN, COLE, SMITH, SCHREINER, GALLOWAY, KELSEY, PALMER, TAFT, LASH, MCDOWELL, CLARK, SMITH

Posted By: Pat Ryan White (email)
Date: 9/29/2022 at 11:26:57

GONE TO REST.
Death of the Veteran Teacher, Prof. S.L. Howe.

Our readers have been aware that for many weeks Prof. Howe had been seriously ill, and that little hope was entertained of his recovery, but he had recently seemed to rally so that the immediate fears of many were dispelled, and these were startled by the sudden news of his death on Thursday evening, Feb. 15. He had really been sinking for forty-eight hours, though none but the quiet faithful watchers of his own household knew it. - During the day, he was quite restless, often requesting to be moved, and trying by the aid of his sons to exercise by walking about the room. At half past eight in the evening, he was thus stepping about, supported by his sons Pembroke and Seward, when he suddenly fainted away, and being carried to his bed sank quietly to his final rest.

Samuel Luke Howe was born in Vermont in 1808. He sprang of a sturdy and long-lived stock, his father living to a hale old age, and dying but a few years since in California. About 1818, young Howe removed with his parents to Ohio, locating at Granville, Licking County. - Deriving such instruction as he could from local schools, he prepared himself for college, and finally graduated at an institution in Athens, Ohio. He had already tried his skill at teaching, beginning in his eighteenth year, the profession in which he afterwards became so famous. His course in college brought out the grit and perseverance of the boy. He was poor and had to work his way, and often in later years he boasted that he earned his tuition cutting and carrying wood for other students and doing chores about the college. We venture to say that none of those for whom he did these services has ever lived to honor his alma mater as much as Prof. Howe. - After leaving college, he pursued his chosen vocation of teacher, numbering among his pupils the distinguished Gen. Sherman, Senator Sherman, and Gen Ewing. In 1829 he was married to Charlotte Wilson, who has since been the companion of his joys and sorrows, and who now survives him. In the autumn of 1841, he removed with his family to the then territory of Iowa, and settled on a farm southeast of Mt. Pleasant. He commenced teaching that winter in a log cabin, having for his pupils, among others, the Spearman boys, J.B. Dickey and others of our early settlers now prominently identified with our county. A year or two later he removed to Mt. Pleasant and here opened a school in the second story of the old jail. Here he had for pupils, Jasper and Will Hill, Smith Saunders, and others, and Senator Saunders credits him also with giving him lessons at night school opened for the accommodation of such as could not attend by day. Subsequently he removed his school to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church (now occupied as a residence by Dr. Bird). In 1845, his own building was ready for occupancy, and in that, with the additions since made to it, he has taught school almost uninterruptedly since. During all this time it was his own school, known as the “Mt. Pleasant High School and Female Seminary,” except during the year 1857-58, when pending the erection of Central School building, it was leased by the district, and Mr. Howe employed as principal by the board of directors. In his school work he was assisted at different times by his children, Oscar, Edward, Pembroke, Hayward, Elizabeth, (Mrs. Panabaker) Frances, (Mrs. Newby) and Seward. Of these, all but Mrs. Panabaker still live and all are excellent teachers. Mrs. Newby resides in Detroit, where her husband teaches penmanship in the public schools. Oscar teaches in the public schools of New York City; Edward and Hayward are teaching in California; Pembroke and Seward are teaching here. Sam, the only other child surviving, is the only one who has not taught school. It is hardly necessary for us to say, what everybody knows, that Mr. Howe’s school has been a great power in this community and throughout all this region of country. For thirty years it has been one of the established institutions of Mt. Pleasant, and students have been drawn thither from far and near. Among the many who have since risen to eminence in various lines of labor, and Hon. B.J. Hall and Dr. Ransom, of Burlington., Hon. E.S. Sampson, of Sigourney, member of congress from 6th district, Hon. John Van Valkenburg, of Ft. Madison, Messrs. Littleton, Barrett and Hallock, since of St. Louis, Maj. T.H. Stanton, of the regular army, Maj. Chipman, late governor of the District of Columbia, Col. A.H. Bereman, Rev. W.R. Cole, Rev. E.P. Smith, Maj. T.A. Bereman, Rev. E.L. Schreiner, Maj. A.J. Newby, of Detroit, and a host of others.

In addition to Mr. Howe’s labors in the schoolroom, he was also for a time connected with the press. In 1849, he purchased an interest in the Iowa Freeman, of which G.G. Galloway was publisher and D.M. Kelsey editor. The following year he bought his partners out and took sole control, changing the name to Iowa Free Democrat and afterwards to the True Democrat. At that day it was one of the very few distinctively free-soil papers in the country, and did its share to shape and mould public sentiment for the great revolution that was coming. Mr. Howe found time from his school duties to write ringing editorials pleading “eloquently for human rights, while the students many of them served as compositors and paid the cost of their tuition by manual labor in the printing office. Those were times that tried men’s souls, the Kansas troubles soon came on; but Mr. Howe’s paper held its place as a power in the land, and its valiant editor lived to see the cause for which it plead triumphant at last.

Mr. Howe was at different times county Superintendent of common schools, and was elected to that office in the fall of 1875, resigning his place only a month ago. He was actively interested in all educational movements, and supported the teacher’s cause everywhere with an enthusiasm that age failed to cool. As a teacher, in the ability to impart knowledge, we have never known his equal. - He fairly inspired his pupils with his own unconquerable spirit. Pupils of natural ability learned from him with wonderful rapidity, and dull pupils were made to learn in spite of themselves. He was very much attached to his pupils, actively interested in their welfare and proud of their achievements. He impressed his personal character on them, and it has passed into a common remark that his students could easily be recognized anywhere. He encouraged them to be aggressive, positive, self-reliant. And they have everywhere followed his advice.

Mr. Howe was of a profoundly religious nature, but earnest in his desire to get the truth of things and sincere in his contempt for all shame. He believed that religion meant truth and right and justice, and if he found the church sanctioning falsehood or wrong, then he opposed the church. At an early day he united with the Congregational Church, and though in recent years he had some difficulty with the church here on account of which he ceased to attend it, he remained a member to the day of his death. In his faith he was broad and charitable, searching for truth everywhere, and never hesitating to embrace it when found.

The funeral took place on Sunday afternoon from Saunders Hall, and was attended by fully a thousand people. Messrs. Presley Saunders, L.G. Palmer, E.S. Hill, E. V. Taft, J.B. Lash and J. McDowell officiated as pall-bearers. The services at the hall were impressive. Prof. Rommel presided at the organ, and Mr. Satterthwaite led the choir. A beautiful solo, “Nearer, my God, to Thee,” was sung by Miss Alice Clark, and the hymns were rendered by full choir. The devotional exercises were conducted by Rev. E.P. Smith. He and Rev. W.R. Cole both made brief and impressive addresses. The Students of Howe’s Academy attended in procession, wearing badges of mourning. The attendance was the largest ever drawn together on such occasion in Mt. Pleasant, and shows the high respect entertained by the community for Mr. Howe and his eminent services. The deceased was buried in the old cemetery, where “life’s fitful fever over, he sleeps well.” But though dead he yet speaketh, in the influences he excited which survive him, in the character he moulded which now rules in business, society and the State, and in the impulse, he gave to education in our midst. Mt. Pleasant and Henry County owe much to Prof. Howe and will treasure long and gratefully the recollection of his distinguished service.

(“The Free Press”, February 22, 1877, page 3)

NOTE: Resource provided by Henry County Heritage Trust; transcription done by Alex Olson, University of Northern Iowa Public History Field Experience Class, Fall 2022.

Gravesite in Old City Cemetery, Mount Pleasant
 

Henry Obituaries maintained by Constance McDaniel Hall.
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