Howard, George E - Erie County

GEORGE E. HOWARD is one of Buffalo's leading capitalists, who aside from his connection with financial affairs and his management of numerous and important vested interests, is prominent in the social and philanthropic life of the city and supports notable responsibilities relating to organized benevolence and to other institutions having the public well-being for their aim. Mr. Howard's father, George Howard, was born in Charlotte, Chittenden County, Vermont, June 25, 1810, and was a descendant of English parents who came to America in the 17th century. His father, John Howard, was a tanner, and also carried on the business of farming. The wife of John Howard was Electa Penfield.

In boyhood George Howard attended school in winter and worked on the farm and in his father's tannery summers. His schooling ended when he was thirteen years old. When young Howard was eighteen, his father met with business disaster that resulted in the loss of nearly all his property, and caused him to decide to leave Vermont. John Howard obtained an "article" entitling him to 115 acres of forest land, a few miles from Westfield, in Chautauqua County, N. Y. With one son he came to Western New York in 1828, and settled on the purchase. In two or three years the father and his sons cleared about 100 acres and began to cultivate the farm. In 1831 George Howard came to Buffalo and shipped before the mast at $12 per month. The next year he agreed to work at Westfield in the tannery of Aaron Rumsey for 15 months, for $100. Six months later he came to Buffalo as foreman in Mr. Rumsey's Buffalo tannery at a salary of |280 a year with board. By the closest economy he lived for two years on |80 a year, thus saving |200 annually, and the third year his salary was increased, his savings for the whole time amounting to |700. At that period this was a considerable cash capital, and it was the corner stone of the large financial structure he afterward reared. After the failure of Mr. Rumsey, Mr. Howard leased the tannery, which he managed for six months. In 1837 he formed a partnership with his former employer, under the firm name of Rumsey & Howard. Four years later, Aaron Rumsey was succeeded by Payette Rumsey, with whom Mr. Howard continued two years. In 1844 Mr. Howard and Myron P. Bush entered into partnership in the tannery business, the firm style being Bush & Howard. A tannery was built in Chicago street, the concern doing a business of from |20,000 to 130,000 a year, which increased to from $700,000 to $800,000 annually. Messrs. Bush & Howard continued in partnership for thirty-five years. In time their sons succeeded to the business, which was carried on in the old firm name, besides his tannery enterprise, Mr. Howard engaged in other lines of business and was a trustee of the Buffalo Gaslight Company, and the Buffalo Savings Bank.

In politics Mr. Howard was originally a Jackson Democrat. Later he became a Whig, and then a Republican. Mr. Howard was President of the Buffalo Cemetery Association, and served as a trustee of that body to the time of his death. The imposing and attractive features of Forest Lawn Cemetery are largely due to his fine taste and sound judgment. In the Buffalo General Hospital and the Buffalo Orphan Asylum he was actively interested, serving as the president of the executive boards of both institutions. To these charities he contributed liberally, on one occasion giving |5,000 to each. He was also a trustee of the State Insane Asylum. He was a member and trustee of Westminster Presbyterian Church, President of the Falconwood Club and a member of the Young Men's Association, the Fine Arts Academy, the Buffalo Historical Society, and the Society of Natural Sciences. Among his many gifts to the cause of education should be mentioned his contribution of $5,000 to Hamilton College. He was one of the chief supporters of the Young Men's Association, in one instance contributing |5,000 in its aid.

In 1835 Mr. Howard married Miss Ellen Martin, of Warsaw, N. Y. The issue of this marriage was one daughter, who died in infancy. Mrs. Howard died in 1846. In November, 1848, Mr. Howard married Louise Corley, of Ithaca, N. Y., who died March 28, 1851. On the 9th of November, 1852, Mr. Howard married Amelia Flagler, of Lockport, N. Y. The children of this union were Frank King Howard, born April 21, 1854; Anna Maria Howard, born February 6, 1856, died August 26, 1879; Nellie Louise Howard, born September 20, 1859, and died in infancy, and George Rumsey Howard. Though a business man of strenuous activity, Mr. Howard knew how to enjoy recreation. At one period of his life he made an extended foreign tour, visiting all important points in England and on the Continent. Among his favorite diversions were yachting and lake fishing. He was a noted yachtsman, being the owner of the famous steam yacht "Orizaba," which after Mr. Howard's death was purchased by the late Dexter P. Rumsey.

The death of Mr. Howard occurred on the 30th of August, 1888, and was the occasion of widespread and deep regret, both of friends and the public. His death came closely home to the people because he was in an unusual degree a representative American - a type of the man who begins life under disadvantages, who struggles with courage and resourcefulness against grave handicaps, who wins success by his own abilities, but who preserves his warmth of heart and his charity for those less fortunate than himself. Mr. Howard had the respect and admiration of the entire community. He was a generous giver, a true friend, a considerate employer whose subordinates knew that he kept their interests in constant view, a devoted husband and father, and a lover of right and justice.

SOURCE:  Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York; Volume I