Burrell Howell, Southern Unionist from Alabama

From the March 10, 2008 post on Cenantua’s Blog:

After exchanging a couple of e-mails with a friend last night, I mentioned a genealogical website that I thought looked like it had potential. I gave the trial version of Footnote a try about a month or so ago, but it seemed to have slow response time (it may have had something to do with my being on dial-up!). However, after sending the e-mail to my friend, I thought it might be a good time to revisit the site and do a little navigation. I knew that Footnote was putting images of Southern Loyalist Claims on the site, but I really had not taken the time to look at them. This wasn’t the first time I have seen the claims as I spent a couple of days, about two years ago, transcribing information from the claims from Page County. However, with the word “free” attached to the claims records last night, I couldn’t resist the chance to look again.

Instead of looking into Virginia records, I probed the records for Kentucky, Maryland and West Virginia, in search of family members. Finding nothing listed under them (looks like some of them didn’t apply), I gave a shot with a branch of my wife’s family, which was from Marion County, Alabama. As I started scrolling through the list of names, one struck me as being familiar… Burrell Howell. Looking back in my family tree program, I found that Howell was indeed connected, in fact, he was my wife’s fourth great grandfather. Howell also had a plantation and was a slaveholder (though, according to the 1850 Marion County census, he only had one slave).

I had information that showed that two of Howell’s sons served in Co. K, 5th Alabama Cavalry (serving under, among others, Forrest and Wheeler). Military records showed that these men enlisted – there was no evidence in the records of having been conscripted or deserting. So, to the unsuspecting eye (as my eyes used to be) they might be considered pretty stout supporters of the Confederacy. The claim of Burrell Howell said otherwise.

According to Howell, his sons HAD been conscripted, and at some point, when they were both sick in Tennessee, he made the trip across the state line and brought his boys home, apparently having convinced the authorities that they were going home to recover. But according to Howell and others who added testimony to the claim, the boys did not return. Ultimately, Howell was proven as a Unionist and his application was approved.

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Now I realize that this was just one man and his two sons, but what strikes me is that most of my wife’s ancestors from Marion County served in the 5th Alabama Cavalry. Burrell Howell was the family member with an application to the Southern Claims Commission, but, considering that his sons were conscripted and yet were shown on the records as having “enlisted,” it makes me wonder how many others were taken into the 5th Alabama Cavalry (and the entire Confederate army, for that matter) as unwilling participants (also, I can’t help it, but it frustrates me knowing that some people, in this day and age, look at the military records “as is” and automatically think that their ancestor eagerly volunteered for service in the Confederate army. There is a need to dig deeper, otherwise the person “honoring” his or her Confederate ancestor does so with ignorance and under an illusion, thereby making the Lost Cause Myth even more of a myth).

On another note, Marion County, Alabama holds some interesting stories when it comes to the Civil War, after all, there were several men from the county who volunteered not in the service of the Confederacy, but for the Union, and served in the 1st Alabama (Union) Cavalry.

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20 Responses to “Burrell Howell, Southern Unionist from Alabama”

  1. Seems you and my husband may be related. I am working on Howell lines and there is going to be a reunion in Alabama in June. I am hoping to provide the history and lines of the Howell family for this. Any help would be so very appreciated… pictures, history, and lines. Thanks for this site and info on Burrell Howell. I believe to be Burrell Wright Howell married to Mary Ann Burleson. Look forward to hearing from you.

    I am the daughter in law of the late Betty Howell
    Daughter of the late Lowell Howell and Mary Montean Trull
    Son of the late Walter Lee Howell and Rosa Pearl Lambert
    Son of the late Aaron Franklin Howell and Emaline Haile
    Son of the late Burrell Wright Howell and MaryAnn (Polly) Burleson
    Daughter of the late John Washington Burleson and Mary Elizabeth Mc Gehee
    John was the son of David Franklin Burleson and Ursula Weatherford
    who was the son of John Burleson and Sarah (Burkson?)
    who was the son of Aaron Burleson and Sarah Camp born 1700 or about etc…

  2. Larry Crowe Says:

    My Grandmother was Vera Howell,buried Sullens, daughter of B.F. Howell, buried at Bethel. Wondering if this is the same line as yours or not. larry

    • Regretfully, I don’t know if there is a tie with Burrell Howell or not. B.F. Howell doesn’t show up in my database, but it may be that I haven’t made the connection yet.

  3. Mike Tucker Says:

    My grandfather was Austin Howell who lived in Bazemore when I was a child. I am told that his father was Franklin Howell who was buried at White House just off 278 in Marion County (although I cannot confirm this). Are they related to Burrell Howell?

    • Mike you must be Grady Tucker’s son ! My grandfather was Anderson uncle Austin’s brother !We went too the cemetery where Aaron Franklin Monore is buried and Burrell was A.F.M’s father and Burrell’s father was James David Howell thats how far back we have traced our family !

  4. Olva Jones Says:

    This is not about the Howells, but does anyone have information about the “Unionist” Joseph M. Palmer? He is a great, great grandfather of mine, and he was from Marion County, AL
    Thanks,

  5. Sheila Abston Says:

    I stumbled upon your website today while looking for more information on Burrell Wright Howell. His daughter Patia Howell Frederick is my GGGrandmother. I have enjoyed reading your Howell information. I have only recently stared researching this line. Would you happen to have any photographs of any of Burrell’s family?

  6. Greetings. I just stumbled across your site. My Great-Great Grandfather and his family lived in Marion County prior to the war. Two of his sons were, I believe, conscripted into the 5th Alabama Cavalry after the conscription act was enacted in 1862. Their muster records merely say, “Enlisted,” yet that is the only thing on their records (I have copies). They obviously deserted, because on March 1, 1863, they enlisted in the 1st Alabama Cavalry (USA) in Corinth. I am quite confident that these poor dirt farmers from the hills of Marion County were what you describe as “leave aloners.” Very interesting site. I will visit often …

  7. Brandi Busbee Says:

    Interesting, I know we are of his decent, as my gggfather was James Howell, ggfather Lang C. Howell, and g father Clayton howell, who also had a brother by the name of Burrell Howell. all of which is buried in the Whitehouse cemetery off hwy 278 in Marion County. LOve to read our history and would love to know more.

  8. Kathrine Howell LeDrew Says:

    I am a descendant of Burrell Wright Howell on both my paternal grandfather’s side and my paternal grandmother’s side.

  9. My great great grandfather was Benjamin Wright Howell (1832); his father Charles Howell was Burrell’s brother. My family is directly connected to Marion Co. What strikes me as strange is the Benjamin W. Howell defintely served with Roberson Artillery Regiment out of Corinth and served util the end of war (I have a copy of his pension). If Ben was clearly Confederate, why was his uncle Burrell a staunch Unionist?

    • I know it may seem strange, but it’s actually not at all unusual. I’ve seen even where fathers and sons… and brothers… were divided over which side they felt they should choose. Blood was not necessarily thicker than sentiments.

    • Hoyt Crowe Says:

      Hello, I go by his grave every year as I do all the others, My GGgrandad was Benjamin Franklin Howell, buried on down the road at Bethel. I will have to ask mother if she knew you, her mother was Vera Howell married to John Tesney.

    • *correction* Benjamin Wright Howell was the son of John Wright Howell, John Wright was the brother of Burrell Howell. Charles Monroe is one of Benjamin’s sons and one of my grandfathers as well.

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