Saint Croix Courier, Saint Stephen, NB
July 19, 1883


Sometimes, in our journey through life, we meet with persons whose lives remind us that there was once a golden age on earth’s annals, an era untouched by sorrow and unsoiled by sin, or, at least, so say the traditions of all lands.

When we see those persons in their daily lives, always busy, contented, and cheerful, making the best of all the circumstances of their fate, we are constrained to believe that this golden period of the world’s youth will come again, whenever all others, like these happy ones, shall garner earth’s sunshine in their hearts instead of its shadows.

People, of more troubled lives are apt to think that persons of such enviable disposition, pass through life without the misfortunes that fall on their own heads; but they are not thus happy because trouble misses them, but because its arrows fall on the shield of their submission to the Divine decrees.

Those thoughts arise involuntarily in my mind, as I think of the long and happy life of a valued friend, lately departed to a better land-a friend of many years acquaintance-Mrs. Simeon Howe, of St. George.

Such a character as hers appears to me to be worthy of a more extended notice than the brief words of an obituary column, since her life was in itself the best sermon that could be written to prove that those who are most fit to live, are most fit to die.  No person enjoyed life and the society of friends better, or laughed more often and merrily than she did, and yet all her actions were ruled by an undeviating standard of Christian rectitude.

To enumerate her many estimable qualities may seem to strangers to convey an exaggerated portrait of human excellence, but none who knew her will call it overdrawn.  I feel assured that none of these can forget her unobtrusive kindness of heart, the mingled gentleness and dignity of her manners, how seldom she spoke of herself or called attention to her own wants or merits; with what tireless energy she devoted herself to the interests of those near and dear to her, and to the church and society that she loved so well.  All who ever met her, from the clergyman of her own Baptist Communion, of which she was so long an honored member, to the transient stranger in the household, have acknowledged the warmth of her welcoming smile, the comfort of her friendly words.

Able at the age of eighty-six to read, to sew, and to embroider with the utmost neatness, and to engage in her accustomed household avocations, rising early, and always industrious, she pursued her occupations up to the last days of her life, never making her great age or failing health an excuse for deserting her place in the church on Sabbath or week-day, or failing to visit the sick and afflicted as usual; and when after a few weeks illness she seemed apparently to be convalescent, even when unable to rise, propped up on her couch, she resumed her work, sewing together bright pieces of silk of which she was making a quilt, till one morning in June, not long after dropping her unfinished work from her hand, she fell quietly asleep; to wake no more.

Mrs. Howe never grew old; so active were her habits, and so free was she from the infirmities of age, that one had to be reminded of her years to remember them at all.  It is not often that persons beyond the age of eighty choose to serve others rather than to be served by them, yet such was her choice.  She was well favored by nature with physical strength, yet many as strong in this respect die in the prime of life, because they do not possess that well-balanced mind, that calm good sense which regulated all her actions.  She was never idle, and her life affords a striking proof that it is not work but hurry and excess which send people to an early grave.  It was by the constant and moderate use of her faculties and her senses that she preserved them undimmed to her last moments.  Never unduly elated, excited, or depressed, her life presents a complete contrast to the rushing spirit of the age; and those who, like her, give every interest and occupation its proper place in their affections, and no more, are best fitted to enjoy life, to live long, and die happy.

St. George has always been Mrs. Howe’s chosen spot of abode, being the scene of her married life and her long widowhood, but six years ago, at the age of eighty, Mrs. Howe left her home at the residence of the Hon. A. H. Gilmore, (her son-in-law) for a visit to her children in the Far-West, scattered in Wisconsin, Oregon and California.  Fatiguing as it must be even for younger persons, she sustained this trip with all the endurance of youth; a few months ago, I asked her if she would dread making this trip again.  “Oh, no,” she replied; “I should enjoy it.”  Since then she has lost her daughter in California.  Her youngest son, Pratt, was either killed or taken prisoner in the Battle of the Wilderness, during the Rebellion, which was the sorest of all her trials, owing to the uncertainty of his fate.  Ah! how gladly has she met those loved one where all has been made clear!

Mrs. Howe was descended from Puritan ancestors who came over in the Mayflower.  Her grandfather, Col. William Dawes, married a daughter of Col. John May (of Boston), who was descended from an ancestor of the same name who came from Mayfield, England, and settled in Roxbury in 1640.  Through these two grand parents, Mrs. Howe was related to two of the most active and leading families in the Old Bay State during colonial times.  Among what John Adams called the four best families of Massachusetts, he mentioned the Dawes family.

Col. William Dawes stood high in the estimation of Gen. Washington, and held many offices of trust under him, being a companion of Paul Revere in his midnight ride, made famous by Longfellow’s poem, but Col. Dawes reached Lexington with his message of warning, without being stopped on the way which Revere did not.

In the book of May genealogy, Mrs. Howe appears in the homestead branch, so called, because those belonging to it remained longest near the home of the first founders, her parents moving to Bristol, Me., where she married and came afterwards to live in St. George, N. B.  The May family reckons among its numerous branches, soldiers, senators, men of science and of letters; although many may be more known to fame, yet I cannot think that among them all there can be any more worthy descendant of the first John May of Roxbury, than the dear friend of whom I write.  The May family reckons among its members, Louisa May Alcot, author of Little Women, etc.

In her long lost husband, Mrs. Howe had possessed a partner worthy of herself, a man respected and beloved in the community where they dwelt.  Mr. Howe was a distant relative of Dr. Howe, of So. Boston, whose success as an educator of the blind, and especially of the deaf, dumb and blind, Laura Bridgman, has gained him so much celebrity.

I have not learned this family history from the lips of Mrs. Howe, who never dwelt on her own personal history so long as I have done; but from books of biography and genealogy in her possession which had been sent to her from friends abroad.  Far was it from her unpretending spirit to seek praise on any account.  Home and its duties was her beloved and chosen sphere.  Thoroughly consistent and sincere, her aim was not to seem, but to be all that she ought; never giving a thought to the applause of the world around her, but seeking a country out of sight-a country in the skies.

       M. W. H.