April 7, 2006

A visit with Betty Howell Traver

Howell <-> Howell

Last week, Dad and I spent a day with our first cousin Betty Howell Traver, age 82, at her home in Greensboro, Georgia where she lives with her husband Daniel. This was a much anticipated occasion - our first ever in-person meeting!

To be precise, Betty is dad's first cousin 'once removed', and my first cousin 'twice removed' - click "Howell <-> Howell" above for a chart.

Within the first few minutes, Betty asked at what age my hair turned grey. "It started about age 16", I replied. "I knew it," said Betty, "you're a Heard!"

Elizabeth Howell Traver cir. 1954

Betty is the only child of Edward Lathrop Howell, youngest brother of Henry Alonzo Howell. She is our last living link to the Howells of White Plains, Georgia. She remembers spending summers in Cuthbert, Georgia in the house occupied by her Aunt Eva Howell, her father and by Henry Howell "my favorite uncle!" Betty remembers Henry's music and that he played the piano daily.

Betty also remembers meeting John Edward Howell - "I liked him," and also remembers that his sister Atze Howell came and stayed in her parents house in Atlanta after leaving Puerto Rico.

Betty's birth mother, Lillian Schalk Howell, died when Betty was 4 months old. When Betty refers to her mother, she is talking about her first cousin, Helen Camp Richardson (1895 - 1962), who raised her, and who tragically died in an air accident in Paris, France while on tour with the Atlanta Art Association.

Betty graduated from Washington Seminary girls school (now part of The Westminster Schools) in Atlanta in 1942. She attended Emery University where she was editor of the school newspaper and one of the first women students on campus. She fulfilled the requirements to graduate from Emery but the school was not yet awarding diplomas to women --- so she received her degree from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA in 1946. During the Korean War Betty served in the Red Cross (1952 - 54) and lived in Tokyo and Osaka Japan and Taegu Korea. She married Dan Traver in Japan. Dan served in the Army on the staff of General William Westmoreland where he was responsible for 2,000 plus aircraft and could "fly anything from helicopters to fixed wing".

Without doubt, our meeting with Betty produced an avalanche of new information on our Howell ancestors! Betty provided so many interesting stories, photos and documents that I will not try and do all of them justice in this note. But to get started, I've placed copies online of most every photo and document she provided, for all to see and enjoy - stories, more explanations and details to follow.

Thank you Betty for these wonderful gifts!


1. Henry Alonzo Howell (1866 - 1958) Dad's grandfather, husband of Nellie Davison. Betty describes him as her favorite uncle. Several photos including as a youth before his first haircut; another in his 20's or early 30's; and a great portrait. Up until now we really did not know what Henry looked like!

2. Hannah Brooks Thompson (1789 - 1872) - An original photo of Henry Howell's Great Grandmother probably taken 1860's ! Amazing to think George Washington took his oath of office as first President of the United States just one month before she was born.

3. Edmund Heard (1807 - 1853) - Grandfather of Henry Howell, son-in-law of Hannah Brooks Thompson.

4. Emma Berrien Heard Howell (1841 - 1918) - Daughter of Edmund, mother of Henry Howell. 4'11'' tall, and a powerful force in her school and in her family.

5. Mary Johnson Howell (1786 - 1856) - Great Grandmother of Henry Howell, Great Great grandmother of Betty Howell Traver. An amazing copy of an old photo probably taken in the 1850's. Given to Betty by Sidney Howell of White Plains.

6. Silhouettes of Daniel James Brooks,
Sarah Berrien Brooks, and their granddaughter Elizabeth Thompson Heard, cut by a famous silhouettist who had no hands.

7. Edna Perrin Heard Kilpatrick (1843 - 1925) - Henry Howell's aunt, younger sister of Emma B. Heard Howell.

8. William "Willie" Johnson Howell (1849 - 1906) - Georgia State Legislator, Uncle to Henry Howell. A double bonus as he is also the Great Great Grandfather of Mark McBride Howell - and Mark informs me this is the first image he has seen of him.

9. "Mammy" - ex slave of Dr. John McKinney Howell holding a young Florence Howell.

10. Helen Camp Richardson's portrait - photographed over Betty's fireplace in the living room.

11. McKinney Howell house - White Plains, Georgia. Several generations have lived here including Dr. John McKinney Howell.

12. This photo of Edward Lathrop Howell, Betty's father/ Henry's brother, is framed and sits in her living room.

13. Group photo of Henry Howell and his sister Bertha Howell Camp, and her daughter Helen Camp in what Betty thinks may be Henry's car.

14. James Hines Kilpatrick photo. An original of the photo found on the "Vanishing Georgia" site by the Georgia Archives.


Henry Howell's father, Dr. John McKinney Howell served as a doctor for the Confederate Army during the Civil War. His letters to Emma describe the horrific conditions he encountered at Andersonville Prison and are must reading. Betty Howell Traver donated the original handwritten letters to the University of Georgia and her tanscribed versions can be seen at the links below:

1. July 29, 1864
2. July 31, 1864
3. August 4, 1864
4. August 10, 1864
5. August 29, 1864
6. August 29, 1864 - handwritten version showing that due to a severe shortage of paper the letter was written first horizontally, then overwritten vertically!


1. A Howell family tree showing Howell's from Betty Howell Traver to Matthew Howell who resided in Isle of Wight, Co., VA and who died 1720. This is a breakthrough as up until now I have not been able to trace beyond McKinney Howell. (See: Tree from Matthew Howell b. 1600's to Maggie Howell b. 2005)

2. Copy of a letter from the Georgia Archives re: John McBride (1793 - 1828) who was Surveyor General of Georgia. He was Henry Howell's Great Grandfather.

3. Copy of John McBride's "Field Notes" for Appling County July 1819.

4. Betty's wrote a one page document describing the "Origins of Henry Alonzo Howell's given names".

5. Betty wrote a one page document on John McKinney Howell & describing some of the artifacts from the old homes that she still has.

6. A document titled "Christmas Visit to the Howell Kin near Atlanta in 1858" Excerpted from the unpublished autobiography "Family Reminiscences" by Edna Perrin Heard Kilpatrick, written in White Plains Georgia in 1922.

7. A short history of the Howell and Johnson Lineage written by Havillah Howell Mapp. (1835 - 1934)

8. Several documents regarding Hannah Brooks Birthday which reveal much about our Berrien lineage. Sarah Berrien was Henry Howell's Great Great Grandmother. We now can see the details of this lineage back through New York, Holland and France.

9. An original old handwritten document with clues to John McBride's lineage.

10. Corrected pages from the 1939 genealogy by Lucy Lane Erwin "The Ancestry of William Clopton of York County, Virginia."

11. Handwritten document with reference to Benjamin Rhodes. Betty notes possible relationship to John McBride.

12 . Transcribed article from the New York Herald re: Origins of Howell name. (no link to our line shown)

13. Handwritten background on the silhouettes of Daniel James Brooks, his wife and granddaughter Elizabeth Thompson Heard.

Posted by jhowell at April 7, 2006 1:31 PM