Location: Harmony Grove, South Framingham, Massachusetts, USA
Surnames/tags: Howe How
A meeting was convened on 29 March 1871 to consider and call for a general meeting of Howes in America. The call for the initial meeting read as follows:
- "The descendants of John, Abraham, Daniel, and Edward Howe, of Watertown and Roxbury, afterward of Lynn, Sudbury, and Marlborough (who landed in this country about 1634), are invited to meet at A. M. Leland's Pianoforte Rooms, 289 Washington Street, Boston, on Wednesday, March 29, 1871, at 12 o'clock, M. to make arrangements for a family gathering and public celebration some time during the coming summer."
The initial meeting was held on 29 March. Col. Frank E. Howe of New York was chosen as Chairman. The meeting resolved to plan and hold a family celebration in the near future at Harmony Grove, South Framingham, Massachusetts and invite all Howes to attend. Committees were formed to carry this out.
Harmony Grove was a beautiful wooded site with a pond, open fields suitable for tents, stands, and activities, and a natural bowl-shaped depression used as an amphitheater for speeches and music. It also had nearby rail lines, roads, and hotels, such as the Wayside Inn, owned by Howes for years and memorialized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Subsequently, the date Thursday, 31 August 1871 was reserved for the Harmony Grove location. Invitations were sent out to all known Howes, and they in turn were asked to extend invitations to additional Howes and close relative to attend and take part. Responses to the invitations were enthusiastic, and it led to the largest family reunion known up to that time. Over 700 attendees names were collected at the reunion, and organizers knew there were many more who did not get their names registered.
Colonel Frank E. Howe gave the welcoming address to the gathering. The Honorable Joseph Howe, Secretary of State of the Dominion of Canada, gave the principal oration. Other speakers included the Honorable William Wirt Howe, Judge of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, Reverend Moses Howe of New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Julia Ward Howe. Julia Ward Howe's Battle Hymn of the Republic was sung, along with other songs by her and other Howes during the celebration.
The story of the gathering was documented by the Rev. Elias Nason and published by Elias Howe of Boston in 1871 in The Howe Family Gathering. Also, much information was collected on Howes that led to years of follow-on research and subsequent 1929 publication by NEHGS of the two-volume Howe Genealogies by Daniel Wait Howe.