August 6: George Thomas Howard (1866)

George Thomas Howard was born in Washington, D.C., only days after the sacking and burning of the city by the British Army during the War of 1812. He immigrated to the Republic of Texas in 1836. After landing at Galveston, he joined the Texas army and advanced to a captaincy by 1837, when he became commanding officer at the Galveston post. Indian depredations at San Antonio led to his assignment in the spring of 1839 in the outskirts of that town. Howard procured provisions for the Texan Santa Fe expedition and, with the rank of major, accompanied the expedition as both merchant and aide-de-camp to Gen. Hugh McLeod. Howard was captured, marched to Mexico, and confined in prison. He soon escaped and returned to Texas in time to join the Somervell expedition. In this campaign he became lieutenant colonel by popular election among the troops. For two years, 1843–45, he served Bexar County as sheriff. His interest in the growth of the republic was reflected in his assistance to Henri Castro in colonizing Castroville.

In 1846 Howard joined the Texas Volunteer Cavalry in the Mexican War. Again his bravery in battle and exemplary leadership distinguished him even among non-Texan companies. With other leading merchants, he helped finance and joined the Chihuahua-El Paso Pioneer expedition to explore the possibilities for a road and mail stations to El Paso through the unmapped southwestern part of the state. In succeeding years he devoted a good portion of his time to a widespread freight business. In 1850 public alarm over Indian raids led to his appointment by the Department of the Interior as Indian agent, and within two months Howard was promoted to superintendency of the Texas agents. He died in Washington, D.C. on August 6, 1866. His funeral took place from the residence of his father-in-law and is included in Epiphany’s parish register.

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