John was born in St. John, New Brunswick. According to the 1880 census, his family was originally from Ireland.
At the time of the 1880 census, the John and his first wife Jane were living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with their three-year-old son Havelock, two-year-old Eva, and seven-month-old John. John Sr. was working as a pattern maker.
From Karen Krantzberg: "Re John Woodrow Howes Sr., what I have is that he was born in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada to Richard and Catherine (ROSS) Howes, and was living in Cambridge, MA by the 1880 census. He also lived in Somerville and later in Rockingham County, NH. He was a pattern maker. At the time of the 1930 census, he was living in a poor house in Exeter, NH, and he died on 8 Jun 1933. He's buried at Exeter Cemetery with my great-grandmother Estelle (his daughter-in-law). John's wife's name was Jane RUSSELL, but I know nothing about her other than that she was born around 1853."
The family had come to the US in 1879. John Jr. was the first child born in Massachusetts instead of St. John.
In July 1892 the 38-year-old John and his 24(?)-year-old son Horace sailed as tourists on a trip to St. John. They returned on the ship "State of Maine" arriving at Boston Harbor.
John later remarried to an Ida A. At the time of 1910 census, John and Ida are living with 30-year-old John Jr. and 27-year-old Charles. John Sr. was working as a cabinet maker.
He is buried in Exeter Cemetery, Exeter, NH.
Coincidences that could mislead genealogists:
The 1880 census was mistranscribed so that John and Jane are listed as "Homes" instead of "Howes."
There was a John Winslow Howes married to a Leonora with a son named John W. and daughters named Leonora and Anvilien. This man was a fisherman. He was born in Barnstable Mass and that's where their family lived. The ages for this John W. Jr. and John W. Sr. are within two years of being right. This man died in Exeter, New Hampshire.
There was a John W. Howes born about 1850 in Massachusetts who lived in Plymouth. This man had a wife named Elizabeth.
There was a John Howes born about 1859 in Nova Scotia who lived in Somerville, Mass., and also had a son named John. This man was already in the US at the age of 11 in 1870.)
"Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FXXD-N48 : 1 March 2016), John W. Howes in entry for Howes, 14 Jan 1896, Somerville, Middlesex, Massachusetts; citing reference ID #v 458 p 391, Massachusetts Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 1,843,693.
"Massachusetts Deaths, 1841-1915," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N7YT-1VM : 10 December 2014), John W. Howes in entry for Howes, 14 Jan 1896; citing SOMERVILLE, MASSACHUSETTS, P364, State Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 961,519.
"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M9TX-TWH : accessed 4 September 2017), John W Howes, Somerville city Ward 2, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 931, sheet 9A, family 182, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,665
"United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X7N2-Y22 : accessed 4 September 2017), John W Howes in household of Deborah Fieldsend, Brentwood, Rockingham, New Hampshire, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 4, sheet 1B, line 54, family 1, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 1305; FHL microfilm 2,341,040.
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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with John by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA.
However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line.
It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with John: