Burgess Howard

Contributed by Ken Margison

Pictures and biographical material were taken from  "Pioneer days in the Catskill High Peaks: Tannersville  and the Region Around" by Lea Showers Wiltse, whose grandfather worked for Burgess Howard.

Ezra B. Howard  was born Nov 1828 in Hunter NY, the 4th of 16 children born to Philip Howard b. 1802 and Catherine Benjamin b. 1803.  Philip was the son of Job Howard, Catherine the daughter of Rufus Benjamin and Catharina Groat.

He died about 1905.

Ezra married (1) Mary Ann Flanagan on 11 Aug 1864 in Catskill, Green Co. New York. Mary Ann was born about 1840 in Ireland. Soon after, Ezra bought what was known as the Stimp-Haines mill in Tannersville and contracted with Sam Brown of Hunter Village to build a "modern" dam and saw mill on the creek. The dam was 60 ft. long and constructed of wood instead of stone. His mill produced fine woodturnings and souvenirs such as canes, picture frames, salt & pepper shakers and the like.

Ezra and MaryAnn had the following children:

Charles R. Howard  was born on 4 May 1865 in Hunter, Green Co. New York. Instead of working in his fathers mill, Charles became the local saloon keeper. He died on 3 Feb 1909. He was buried in Hunter.

Francis W. Howard  was born about 1866 in Hunter.

Ezra Burgess Howard  was born in 1868.

Redmond Howard  was born about 1870.

Ezra married (2) Lucy A. Seager  daughter of Merwin Seager and Ada about 1877. Lucy was born about 1852 in Green Co. New York. She died on 13 Apr 1928 in Utica NY.

They had the following children:

Lila Howard  was born about 1882 in , Green Co. New York

Seager V Howard  was born in 1879.

Ezra Burgess Howard  (Ezra B.) was born in 1868 in Hunter, Green Co. New York. Burgess married (1) Charlotte (Carlotta) Cammann in 1895. Charlotte was born in 1874. She died in 1912 in Tannersville, after a terrible accident in her husband’s wood shop. She is buried in St. Francis de Sales Cemetery. They had one child, B. Elmo Howard who was born on 12 Apr 1896. He died on 5 Jan 1901 and is buried next to his mother.

Always the entrepreneur, in 1911 Burgess was associated with his brother in law George J. Gardner, demonstrating the many good points of the Reo four- cylinder, five-passenger, four-door $1,000 car. George's wife Mina is buried next to Charlotte. Mina and another sister, Adele Westcott helped with Charlotte's care while she was in the hospital.

After Charlotte’s death, Burgess married (2) Edna Campbell daughter of George Campbell. George owned the Blacksmith shop across the street from the Howard Mill.

Burgess married (3) Annie M. Anson, widow of Michael Raab of Tannersville, on 7 Jun 1946. Annie operated an Antique Shop in Tannersville.


From : "Pioneer days in the Catskill High Peaks: Tannersville  and the Region Around" by Lea Showers Wiltse

"Burgess Howard purchased the first automobile brought into the village. It was a locomotive type Steamer Runabout. It was run by kerosene and gasoline, whose force was obtained from a small amount of gasoline poured into the mechanism under the seat. More conservative citizens declined to ride in this early steamer, fearing, not without cause, that they might be blown to bits at any minute. But Mr. Howard owned 3 Stanley Steamers over the years."

He also opened the first automobile repair shop in the village. As more and more automobiles appeared on the streets, Burgess would occasionally purchase barrels of gasoline and sell it by the gallon. Realizing that the local blacksmith shop was inadequate in repairing and tinkering with the mysteries of the automobile, he set up a repair area in a shed located at the end of his souvenir shop. Ralph Voss and Charles Haines traveled to New York City where they took a course in automobile driving and mechanics and came back skilled mechanics who could repair automobiles. 

Burgess Howard's store later became the A&P in Tannersville. Around 1900 a large sign on the Howard Shop read: "Here is where the Crowd buys Souvenirs. Largest, Oldest, Cheapest Place in the Catskills." After getting inspired by a trip to the Worlds Fair, Burgess returned to Tannersville and remodeled his shop, adding a large non-working paddle wheel to the side of the building for aesthetic reasons. The wheel came from his fathers original shop, but Burgess used a more powerful turbine type wheel to power his machinery.

In the summer Burgess set up a lathe for turning out souvenirs on the front porch of the store and sold souvenirs advertised as "Catskill Mountain Souvenirs, made from Catskill Mountain wood by a Catskill Mountain man.”

In 1915 Burgess embarked in a business venture with Herbert O'Hara called The Tannersville Record of which Burgess was Editor.

Burgess died in 1948. 

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