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Honorable Manly D. Howard

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American Biographical History of Eminent and Self-Made Men     Volumes I-II
HONORABLE MANLY D. HOWARD of Holland City, Michigan, was born August 31, 1817, in West Winfield, Herkimer Co New York.

His ancestors were Puritans and were among the early settlers of Boston, Massachusetts. His father, EARL DOUGLAS HOWARD, was a farmer in one of the southern counties of Vermont, and emigrated to the Mohawk Valley in 1814.   His mother, ELIZABETH BARLOW, belonged to the Barlow family of New England.

Earl Douglas Howard served in the War of 1812, and died in 1818.    His wife, left a widow with seven children, moved first to New Hartford, Oneida Co New York; then to Rochester; and, finally, to Fredonia, Chautauqua Co.    She died in 1852, in Alleghany Co Pennsylvania.

The subject of this sketch received his early education in Fredonia Academy, an institution supported by State funds and tuition fees.

In the spring of 1836, Mr. Howard moved to Detroit, under the care of Doctor Douglas Houghton, State Geologist, by whom he was placed in the law office of Walker & Douglass. Soon after, he was offered a situation in a shipping and commission house in Detroit.

In 1838 he was enrolled in the 1st Regiment of State Militia, and, for a week, patrolled the city with the troops, under the direction of the Mayor, in order to protect the citizens and property from what was termed the "patriotic war." About this time he became a member of the celebrated military organization known as the "Brady Guards."

From this duty he was soon relieved, by being appointed Deputy United States Marshal of Michigan. This office he held for nearly two years. Through the position of Deputy Marshal, he became acquainted with nearly all the prominent political men of the State, being thrown into social intercourse with the late Governor Stevens T. Mason, from whom he imbibed the principles of the Democratic party.

Mr. Howard was married, July 23, 1846, to SARAH STEVENS, eldest daughter of the late JOHN JEX BARDWELL, of Suffolk County, England, and a niece of the late SIR JOHN THWAITES, for many years Chairman of the London Metropolitan Board of Public Works. After five years -- from 1842 to 1847 -- spent as a member of a prominent produce and commission house at Detroit, Mr. Howard removed to Ann Arbor. Here he remained seven years, spending most of the time in reading law in the office of the late Oliver W. Moore, of that city. At that time he took great interest in political affairs.

In 1854, his eye-sight having partially failed, he made arrangements to engage in the lumber busIness, in and near Holland, where he owned considerable pine and other land.

In 1862 he was authorized by the Government to raise a company of men, who, when enlisted, constituted Company I, 25th Michigan Infantry. This company was composed, largely, of residents of Holland. Poor health and business engagements prevented his leading them to service. Mr. Howard was elected, as a War Democrat, to the positions of Acting Supervisor, member of the Board of Supervisors, and, in 1862, to the Lower House in the State Legislature, to which he was re-elected in 1864. While filling this position, he was a member of the Committee on State Affairs, Harbors, etc., and on several of the important special committees of the House. On the final passage, by the State legislative body of which he was a member, of the Fifteenth Constitutional Amendment, he demanded a division of the question, and voted for the abolition of slavery, in opposition to his Democratic colleagues, but against giving Congress authority to legislate on the same. For the first vote he was censured by a few radical Democrats. He made a successful appeal to the House, just before its final session, to sustain the State institutions -- particularly the University and Agricultural College -- by voting them the usual annual appropriations. Mr. Howard was elected a delegate to the Baltimore Convention in 1872, as he had been to that at Chicago in 1864, but was prevented, by ill-health, from attending. He heartily indorsed the nomination of Horace Greeley. While in the Legislature, he succeeded in perfecting the title to a grant of about ten thousand acres of land, in aid of Black Harbor improvements; and was, for many years, Secretary of the Harbor Board, under whose direction the improvements were accomplished.

In 1867 he secured the passage of a bill for a railroad from Grand Haven, through the village of Holland, to Buffalo, on the line of the Michigan Central Railroad. This road has been successfully built, and is now known as the Chicago and Michigan Lake Shore Railroad. He aided in the construction of the Allegan and Holland, the Holland and Grand Haven, and the Grand Haven and Muskegon Railroads, and was a Director of the first named company. He also assisted in the organization of the Grand Rapids and Holland Railroad Company, and became one of its Directors.

In 1843 he became a member of the Odd-Fellows, in Lodge No. 2, at Detroit. In 1845 he helped to organize Washtenaw Lodge, No. 9. He joined the Masonic Fraternity in 1865.

Being for some time the only professional man except a physician, within twenty miles of Holland, Mr. Howard's knowledge of the law was frequently called into requisition. For many years he practiced gratuitously; but, as time wore on, a certain amount of practice became a necessity, and, in 1867, he closed his mills and lumber business, and opened a law office, in connection with his land collections and insurance business, in which he had been engaged, to some extent, since 1856. He has always attended the Protestant Episcopal Church, and, while in Ann Arbor, was Treasurer of St. Andrew's Episcopal Society. He helped to organize Grace Church, in Holland, and, for many years, was its Senior Warden.

His success in business has been satisfactory, notwithstanding a number of reverses at the outset. In all his engagements, he has been upright, energetic, and prudent. He is a constant attendant upon all the political conventions of his party, and is familiar with the political history of the State since 1840. Though he has continued, during the last fifteen years, to refuse all public preferment, his influence is felt, and his name is well known to most of the prominent men of the State, particularly in the western and central counties.
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