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What became of Mrs. Howard? Part II

July 17, 2013

When we last left Mrs. Howard the year was 1860.  She had been a widow for five years and was living in Memphis with four young children.  The year before, in 1859, she buried another child in the Howard Vault, and by the end of 1861 she would return to Elmwood to bury children James and Ellana. 

We know that Mrs. Howard was still living in Memphis in 1866. On August 21 of that year her daughter Mary was married to Mr. Juan Rayner, son of Eli Rayner, Jr., at Calvary Church in Memphis.

Fourteen years later, and it’s 1880.  Mrs. Howard resurfaces in the 1880 Federal Census, but not in Tennessee.     

Founded in 1858, Denver became a boomtown after 1870 when the transcontinental railroad was finally completed and linked it to the rest of the United States. In the 1880 census Frances was 54 years old and turned up living with her 35 year old daughter Nellie (Fannie) in Denver. The census said they both worked as “Dressmakers”. According to her obituary we find that she moved there around 1873.  Why Mrs. Howard ended up in Denver is not clear. It could have been for many reasons.  The West at that time embodied the ideal of ‘new beginnings’, ‘fresh starts’, and ‘new adventures’ for many. Maybe Mrs. Howard was restless.  But it’s also possible that she was merely following her older, married daughter Mary and her husband Juan Rayner, who ended up living in Pueblo Colorado.  By the 1910 Federal Census Frances was 84 years old and living in Pueblo with Juan and Mary.  Daughter Nellie had married John M. Norman and was living in Denver.

Frances Roberta Wilkinson Howard died in Pueblo Colorado on Sunday, August 7, 1910 at the age of 85 years old in the home of her oldest daughter Mary.  Two days later her other surviving daughter Fannie Norman came to Pueblo to take her body back to Denver for burial.   Fannie and her husband James M. Norman are buried in the historic Fairmont Cemetery in Denver.  Frances is most likely buried there also, but we do not know for sure.

Frances Howard may have lived out her last 37 years in Colorado, but it would seem that the family never made a complete break from Memphis.  Her obituary mentions the ‘legion’ of Friends she had left in Memphis.  Also, you may remember the Howard and Frank Rayner buried outside of the Vault, but within the Howard Plot at Elmwood? It turns out that some of the family had returned to Memphis.  Howard was the son of Mary Howard Rayner and her husband Juan and the grandson of Eli Raynor, Jr. and Francis R. Howard.    Mrs. “Frank” Raynor was his wife.  Sometime around 1908 they returned to Memphis.  But that leads to another entirely different story and a new blog entry for another day.

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