Jefferson Howell
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Jefferson Davis Howell (1846 - 1875)

Capt Jefferson Davis Howell
Born in Natchez, Adams, Mississippi, USAmap
Ancestors ancestors
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died at age 28 in Pacific Oceanmap
Problems/Questions Profile managers: Aaron Henderson private message [send private message] and Berry Henderson private message [send private message]
Profile last modified | Created 3 Aug 2014
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Notables Project
Jefferson Howell is Notable.

"Her new captain was Jefferson Davis Howell (1841-1875), a veteran of the Civil War and brother-in-law of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States... Although lost at sea, Jefferson Davis Howell was not forgotten by his many friends in Puget Sound. They had a 10-foot-tall sandstone obelisk erected in his memory at the Seattle Masonic Cemetery, established in 1872 and renamed the Lake View Cemetery in 1890. On the base of the monument is chiseled the simple epitaph: 'Captain J. D. Howell, perished at sea on the steamship Pacific, November 4, 1875, aged 34 years.'" [1]

"The cemetery is also the resting place of Captain Jefferson Davis Howell... captain of the SS Pacific which sunk in 1875 and is considered one of the worst maritime disasters on the Pacific coast with a loss of about 275 lives. [2]

"A great tragedy was about to unfold. The sail-steamer built in New York in 1850 was only 33-foot-6-wide — making it unstable at sea. With a crew of 52, the fateful voyage started in Tacoma, destined for San Francisco, picking up more passengers in Puget Sound and in Victoria on Vancouver Island, where Chinese laborers boarded — listed collectively as '41 Chinese.'

'Her deck was black with people,' witnesses said. No one knows exactly how many were aboard. As the ship left the dock, un-manifested miners scrambled over the rails. Small children traveling free were not counted. The hold was loaded...

The ship sailed an hour late because the captain — 34-year-old Jefferson Davis Howell — was in his cabin nursing a headache (some say he was drunk) and asked not to be disturbed. However, he recovered enough to take the helm and steer the ship out of the harbor. Right after leaving port, the weather started getting ominous, with wind and rain slowing progress. The ship struggled as it headed out to sea at 12 knots. Captain Howell then turned the vessel over to an inexperienced helmsman, a rookie third mate and a sole lookout, and returned to his cabin...

Apart from being overloaded, the trip seemed routine. However, there were only five lifeboats and could accommodate only 160 passengers.

To keep the ship stable, 'Captain Howell ordered all of the lifeboats along one side of the ship filled with water to counteract the list,' according to later testimony by survivor Henry F. Jelley from London, Ontario..." [3]


  1. " 'The SS Pacific founders off Cape Flattery with a loss of 275 lives on November 4, 1875', by Daryl C. McClary; Feb. 13, 2009."
  2. "Tombstone Tuesday: Lake View Cemetery, Seattle, Washington'; June 11, 2013."
  3. "TRAGEDY AT SEA — TWO SHIPS AND TWO CAPTAINS', bt Syd Albright; The Coeur d'Alene Press; December 04, 2016 .

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This week's featured connections are French Notables: Jefferson is 14 degrees from Napoléon I Bonaparte, 18 degrees from Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette, 20 degrees from Sarah Bernhardt, 32 degrees from Charlemagne Carolingian, 22 degrees from Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, 16 degrees from Pierre Curie, 24 degrees from Simone de Beauvoir, 16 degrees from Philippe Denis de Keredern de Trobriand, 17 degrees from Camille de Polignac, 15 degrees from Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière, 18 degrees from Claude Monet and 20 degrees from Aurore Dupin de Francueil on our single family tree. Login to see how you relate to 33 million family members.