In reviewing the life history of Henry F. Howland, one of the leading and wealthy citizens of Streator, one is inevitably impressed with what he, who was a few years ago a poor man, has accomplished. From his boyhood industry and diligent application to whatever task he had before him have been among his marked traits of character, and this concentration of his energy to the working out of some particular aim is one of the secrets of his success.
The father of our subject, Shubal Howland, was born at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and during the greater part of his mature life he was engaged in merchandising. The mother, whose maiden name was Mary Godfrey, was born at Blackstone, Rhode Island, and passed the most of her life in her native state.
Henry F. Howland was born in Seekonk, Massachusetts, May 5, 1839. When he was quite young his parents removed to Rhode Island, and there the lad attended the public schools until he was about fifteen years of age. He then obtained employment in the great Lonsdale Manufacturing Company's mills, at Lonsdale, Rhode Island, where he continued to render faithful service for some fourteen years.
In 1870 the desire to see the west, with a view to making his permanent abode there, led to his coming to LaSalle county, and, having some capital, he invested it in a furniture and undertaking establishment at Wilmington, where he remained eleven years. During this time he was always at the front in furthering the development and improvement of his home city. He served two years as city clerk and six years as a member of the city council, and was also solicited a number of times to accept the office of mayor, but declined further honor in that line. Becoming acquainted with Daniel Heenan, of Streator, through that gentleman's persuasion he was induced, in 1880, to remove his business to Streator, where he has met with even greater success, and numbers among his patrons the best families of the place. In 1891 he erected a fine, substantial three-story brick block, forty-five feet by ninety feet in dimensions, and all of the room thus afforded is used by him in the various departments of his prosperous business. He carries a large and well selected stock of household furnishings, carpets, furniture and general supplies. A fine line of caskets and funeral equipments are to be found in that department of the enterprise, and a good hearse and horses complete what is considered one of the best undertaking outfits in the county. Mr. Howland's reputation in his special lines of business has extended over the southern and central part of LaSalle county, and his record for fairness and square dealing is unsurpassed.
In 1859 Mr. Howland wedded Miss Mary Carlin, a daughter of John Carlin, of Lonsdale, Rhode Island. Five children were born to this worthy couple, namely: Mary, wife of Nicholas Casey, a retired farmer of Streator; Lydia, who is at home; Henry J., who is associated in business with his father; John F., now employed by the Santa Fe Railroad Company; Lydia, who is at home; and Lucy, who is still pursuing her studies at the Academy of the Sacred Heart, Chicago.
In politics Mr. Howland is a stanch Republican. For six years he served as a member of the Streator school board, favoring progressive methods and better educational facilities for the rising generation. Socially he belongs to the Modern Woodmen of America. He owns his attractive home and other valuable property here, and has an assured competence for his declining years, all of which is the result of his executive ability and good judgment in business affairs.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 144-145.