The First Howe Tavern Keeper: John Howe, The Pioneer

John How(e) 1602-1680

John How was definitely a pioneer in fact as well as spirit.  Although we don’t know exactly when he came to this continent from his native England, it must have been in the 1630’s. He was part of what is known as the Great Migration, when 20,000 immigrants, mostly English Puritans, flooded the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the first decades after the Mayflower arrived, emigrants  created new communities–35 in the first ten years– across what is now New England.

John How probably  lived briefly in Watertown, Massachusetts, but he first shows up in public records as one of the 54 men who started Sudbury in 1637.

First Meeting House, Sudbury MA

Site of the first Sudbury Meeting House. Marker located in Sudbury Old North Cemetery, now in Wayland, Massachusetts. Massachusetts.

First Meeting House, Sudbury

Plaque on marker of Sudbury First Meeting House.


It was there John first became a Freeman and was elected a selection in 1642.

But the families there soon wanted more land and John was one of 12 who pushed into the wilderness to found Marlborough. In 1661, at the age of 59, he opened a tavern, or ordinary.

This was the start of a long line of Howe tavern keepers, both in Marlborough and in Sudbury, where John’s son Samuel moved.

Even my grandmother, John Howe’s 6th great-grand daughter, ran a bar-restaurant, as you can see at the top of this page.

So it was fitting that a group of descendants of Vera Stout Anderson and John Howe gathered at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, formerly known as Howe’s Tavern.  Here in front of the Martha and Mary Chapel, added by Henry Ford (more later about how Henry gets into this story), we snapped pictures of representatives of four generations.

Descendents of John , Samuel, David, and Elizabeth Howe.

Four generations of descendents of John , Samuel, David, and Elizabeth Howe.

How I am Related

  • My maternal grandmother, Vera Stout (Anderson), was the daughter of
  • Hattie Morgan (Stout), the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett (Morgan),the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Stone (Bassett) the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Howe (Stone), the daughter of
  • Israel Howe, the son of
  • David How, the son of
  • Samuel How, the son of
  • John How.

Notes on Research

As Ancient Is This Hostelry: The Story of the Wayside Inn, by Curtis F. Garfield and Alison R. Ridley(1988)
A History of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn by Brian E. Plumb (2011)
Howe Genealogies by Daniel Wait Howe (1929), Massachusetts Historical and Genealogical Society. This is said to be the best of the several genealogies of the family. Although I do not have a copy of the entire book, portions of it are available on the Internet.
Middlesex County records found on Birth, death and marriage.
Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County Massachusetts Vol. 1, ed by Ellery Bicknell Crane (1907) Available as a Google Books e-book.

I also have had assistance from the archivist and Longfellow’s Wayside Inn historian Richard Gnatkowski and Sudbury historian Lee Swanson.

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7 thoughts on “The First Howe Tavern Keeper: John Howe, The Pioneer

  1. Pam Carter (

    I found your blog through the 52 ancestors links. I am also a descendant of John How, through Samuel, and then David’s sister, Martha. I am checking to see if we are related through William Bassett but I know there were two William Bassett’s and I’m not sure if you and I share the same one. I really like your blog and it’s a bonus that we share ancestors. Pam

    1. Avatar photoVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Pam, Welcome to Ancestors in Aprons. Delighted to meet someone who is related. The William Bassett situation can be confusing, but there is only one who arrived on the Fortune, and his descendents are pretty well documented, although his background before the Fortune is murky. Let me know what you find.

  2. Karen Boyer Corbett

    I am a descendant of John How’s daughter Mary who married John Wetherby/Wetherbee. I am a new Member of the National Society of New England Women so this will be another line!

  3. Guynella

    Descendant of John Howe-Samuel Howe-Mary Howe (Barnes) -Samuel Barnes – Moses Barnes – Nathan Barnes – Ezekiel Barnes – Amanda Barnes (Smith) – Ortencia Smith (Stalker) – Alma Stalker – Guy Stalker –
    Marcille Stalker – Guynella Stalker (Key)
    Just a side note I have been a restaurant and bar manager for 24 years

    1. Avatar photoVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Nothing like following in your (fore)father’s footsteps. I don’t believe my grandmother from that line realized who her Howe ancestors were when she ran a boarding house, a restaurant and a rooming house at various times during her lifetime.

  4. David Ward

    I am a descendant of John Howe through Samuel III
    then his son Hezekiah born 1721; then his son Parley; then his son Elias
    then his daughter Asenath Perry Howe married Jonathan Flanders Morgan of New London, NH (Jon Morgan
    was one of the founders of Lawrence, Kansas in an effort to make Kansas a free state)
    then their daughter Annah married Charles J. Ward
    then their son Verl B Ward
    then his son Lewis Morgan Ward
    and I am the son of Lewis Ward. Definitely would like to visit the Wayside Inn (Howe Tavern)

    1. Avatar photoVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Thank you. You’ve added some Howes to my tree, cousin, perhaps. But I’m having trouble making thee connection. Do you have dates for John and Samuel III?? There are numerous Johns and Samuels and I don’t seem to have a good match.


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