Silas W. Howell


Silas W. Howell was born in February 1770. He is said to have been a native of Morristown, New Jersey. We seek more information on his origins and path to Albany.

In November 1792, he is said to have married Hannah Arnold in Morristown. Although no baptisms appear to have been recorded in Albany churches, the marriage produced several children.

mark of S. W. HowellIn May 1794, an Albany newspaper noted that Silas W. Howell offered his services as a clock and watchmaker and as a gold and silversmith in New Brunswick, New Jersey until December 1796. Examples of his work in combination with fine products sometimes offered by wood craftsmen and silversmiths have been noted for his time in Jersey. After that, he would be found in Albany.

In December 1798, an Albany newspaper advertized his shop opposite city hall on Court Street where he "sold guns, fancy goods, jewelry, and silver table and teaspoons." Over the next half decade, he appears to have been a regular advertizer. He was to be involved in at least two business partnerships.

Beginning in 1798, he was identified on Albany jury lists as a watch and/or clock maker and merchant. In 1801, he was a member of an Albany fire "handbarrow" company. In 1803, his name appeared on a list of Albany freeholders.

In 1799, his house and lot in the first ward were valued moderately. A year later, his household included eleven family members and one slave.

He was a member of the Albany Mechanics Society.

In 1803, he was identified as one of the guardians of the orphaned children of Albany resident Archibald Campbell.

In March 1804, he was among the Albany Federalists who signed a petition supporting the Assembly candidacy of Stephen Lush.

However, a promising life story was cut short when Silas W. Howell died in September 1805. He had lived less than thirty-six years. A newpaper obituary dated October 7, 1805 noted that: "On Saturday last, greatly lamented by their numerous friends and acquaintance, Silas W. Howell, and Abraham D. Lansigh, both of this city, Merchants of the malignant fever of New-York from which place they returned on Wednesday last the former was then down with the fever, the latter but slightly indisposed." Howell was buried in the Albany Presybterian plot.

Letters of administration on his estate were issued in March 1806.

In April 1807, the guardian of the four [named] "infant children" of the late Silas W. Howell was petitioning for a particular share of his estate. Their mother, widow "Hannah Howell," also was named in the action submitted to the Albany Mayor's Court.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Silas W. Howell is CAP biography number 8579. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. A scan of Internet-based resources yields a number of similarly named contemporaries.

first posted: 12/10/11