My interest in John Howard started as I was looking for more information about the family of my 3GreatGrandmother Elizabeth Howard. It was not too difficult to move back another generation and find her father Samuel Howard, his brothers (among them John Howard), and their father John Milton Howard, thanks to a will transcription I found online.(1)
Later, looking at several sources for burial information, I found a photo of the grave marker for John Howard with a birth date that matched what I already had known about John. His marker was clearly one that had been added long after his death, and it appeared to be a military-style marker.
|John Howard, 1767-1851|
FindAGrave memorial #108835867, photo by "cliffoflancing"
Knowing he had been in a soldier lead me to explore the Revolutionary War resources available on fold3.com. What I found was a 56-page folder of papers related to John's filing for a soldier's pension in 1832. It also included various paperwork filed on behalf of his wife Nancy for a widow's pension through the years after John's death in 1851.(2)
There was so much information contained in the file that I ended up putting pertinent information into a timeline spreadsheet. That way I had a clearer picture of what went on in the lives of John and Nancy since the files themselves were not in chronological order. It was worth looking over each document in the file in order to get all of this information.
|1767||Feb 11||John Howard born||Lawrence County, SC|
|1781||abt Feb - Oct||John entered service in Rev. War||Lawrence County, SC|
|ca 1782-1892||John resided in Laurens, SC for 20 yrs after the war||Laurens, SC|
|ca 1800-1809||John Howard in Kentucky||Christian County, KY|
|1810||January 29||Marriage bond for John Howard and Nancy Howard||Knox County, TN|
|ca 1810-1811||Marriage of John Howard and Nancy Howard||Knox County, TN|
|1814-1815||John and Nancy moved from Knox to Morgan County|
|ca 1832-1833||John started receiving military pension under act of 1832, $20 per year||Morgan County, TN|
|1851||April 9||John Howard died||Morgan County, TN|
|1853||Mar 23||Nancy Howard applied for widow's pension||Morgan County, TN|
|1855||Apr 11||Nancy Howard applied for widow's pension||Morgan County, TN|
|1860||Sep 4||Restoration of pension for Nancy||Morgan County, TN|
|1862||Jul 14||Nancy Howard applied for restoration of pension||Morgan County, TN|
|1866||May 28||Certificate of Widow's Pension||Morgan County, TN|
|1872||Mar 22||Nancy had ?s about losing her pension certificate||Morgan County, TN|
It was a special moment when I found the following statement in John Howard's application for a pension. In it, he has sworn that at ...
Here was John Howard's statement that he had been a "volunteer indian spie" during the war and that he had served under Capt. Berry and Lt. William Brown. The document was written by his lawyer and related the various events John provided as proof of military service. This is probably the same document that someone else found years ago, added to an online family tree, then had it repeated (but without a source) on countless other family trees. At least, there is a source for saying John Howard had been a spy.
I decided to pay another visit to J D Lewis' information-packed website Carolana, the place where you can find "almost everything you ever wanted to know" about the Carolinas. Here I also found verification of John Howard's military service. In the database of "The Privates, Horsemen, Fifers, and Drummers", I found a listing for John Howard which indicated that he enlisted in the New Acquisition District Regiment in 1781, completed his service in 1781, and served under Capt William Barrey and Lt. William Brown during these months.(3) This agreed with the statements in Howard's pension application plus provided the name of the regiment in which he served.
Trailing this spy lead me to learn more about his military service, his marriage and the various places where he lived. It also explained why I had found marriage, census, and burial information in Tennessee instead of near his birthplace in South Carolina. If so many people had not noted his service as a spy, I might never have taken the time to even look for information about this John Howard. Now, I need to start looking for more about his father, my 5 GreatGrandfather, also named John Howard, but who was apparently not a spy.
(1) West, Mary E, "Ancestors & Descendants of Thomas and Harriet Compton Howard", accessed on the website of the Hamilton County Tennessee Genealogy Society, www.hctgs.org.
(2) "Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files", folder for John Howard, publication M804, National Archives Catalog ID 300022, record group 15; accessed through www.fold3.com
(3) Lewis, J D. "The American Revolution in South Carolina, The Privates, Horsemen, Fifers, Drummers, etc", www.carolana.com.