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Henry Howard (Detroit)

Henry Howard September 15, 1801 – July 15, 18781 was a banker and businessman, and served as mayor of Detroit in 1837,2 and as the first treasurer of the state of Michigan1


Smart Block, Detroit, where Howard and Wadhams had a dry goods store The image is c 1845, after Howard and Wadhams had moved on

Henry Howard was born in Hinsdale, Massachusetts on September 15, 1801 He later moved to Geneva, New York1 In 1827, Howard entered into a partnership with Ralph Wadhams to form Howard and Wadhams a third partner, W S DeZeng, stayed in New York and was not active in the business for the five years he was associated with Howard and Wadhams3 Ralph Wadhams had lived in Detroit since 1823, operating a dry goods store in the Smart Block on the corner of Jefferson and Woodward with another business partner4 Wadhams was looking to form a new partnership, covering the dry goods store and expanding into the timber business5

Howard and Wadhams purchased timberland and a sawmill in St Clair County, and Howard moved to Detroit1 to manage the firm36 The firm distributed their product at the mill, and in Detroit,3 with a warehouse at the foot of Randolph Street2 In 1829, Wadhams moved to St Clair County, near the mill' leaving Howard in Detroit=, and in 1832, DeZeng sold his portion of the partnership to Wadhams and Howard5 However, Howard and Wadhams piled up $30,000 worth of debt by 18353 They still need to purchase pine forest for timber production, however, and due to overspending and the financial panic of 1837, were forced to assign assets to their creditors in 1839,5 after which the company was dissolved3 In 1840, Ralph Wadhams' father, a wealthy businessman from New York, personally intervened to save his son's business from creditors,3 and in 1844 reconveyed some of the lumber firm's assets to his son, who continued to run the firm without Henry Howard5

While in Detroit, Howard was a Democrat, although later in life he switched allegiance and became a Republican1 He served as an alderman of Detroit in 1833 – 1834 and as mayor in 18372 He was the first treasurer of the state of Michigan, serving from 1836 – 1839 and also served as state Auditor General from 1839 – 184017

In 1840, Howard moved to Buffalo, New York, to join the Buffalo Savings Bank1 He worked as treasurer of the Buffalo Savings Bank for nearly thirty years, and died in Buffalo on July 15, 18781


  • The Detroit mayor, banker, lumberman, and state treasurer Henry Howard is not the same person as the nearly contemporaneous Port Huron, Michigan mayor, banker, lumberman, and state representative Henry Howard, despite Palmer's6 understandable confusion of the two Bingham correctly differentiates the two men in his thumbnail biography1
Political offices
Preceded by
Levi Cook
Mayor of Detroit
Succeeded by
Augustus Seymour Porter
Preceded by
Original officeholder
State Treasurer of Michigan
Succeeded by
Peter Desnoyers
Preceded by
Robert Abbott
Michigan Auditor General
Succeeded by
Eurotus P Hastings


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Stephen D Bingham 1888, Early history of Michigan: with biographies of state officers, members of Congress, judges and legislators, Thorp & Godfrey, state printers, pp 356–357 
  2. ^ a b c Silas Farmer 1889, THE HISTORY OF DETROIT AND MICHIGAN, p 1035 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Barbara Ellen Benson 1989, Logs and lumber: the development of the lumber industry in Michigan's lower peninsula, 1837-1870, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, p 42, ISBN 9780916699147 
  4. ^ Silas Farmer 1890, History of Detroit and Wayne County and early Michigan: a chronological cyclopedia of the past and present, S Farmer & co for Muncell & co, New York, p 457 
  5. ^ a b c d William Lee Jenks 1912, St Clair County, Michigan, its history and its people: a narrative account of its historical progress and its principal interests, Volume 1, Lewis Publishing Co, pp 123–124 
  6. ^ a b Friend Palmer 1906, Early days in Detroit, Hunt & June, p 674 
  7. ^ Silas Farmer 1884, The history of Detroit and Michigan: or, the metropolis illustrated ; a chronological cyclopaedia of the past and present, including a full record of territorial days in Michigan, and the annals of Wayne county, S Farmer & Co, p 92 

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