Ada Marian Howe (1886-1974): White Lake, South Dakota

Ada Marian Howe was reportedly born in White Lake, South Dakota on March 17, 1886 to Willoughby Dewey Howe and Ada ("Addy") Stowe. Her aunt Alida later signed an affadavit testifying to this, according to her "personal knowledge."

It is not known where or how Addy and Willoughby met, or whether they even married. We know that he came to South Dakota in 1884, because it's part of the military census record.

Ada's younger sister, Zoe Clare Howe, was born in White Lake in 1888, and this fact is recorded in South Dakota's official birth records..

Addy was born Ada Genevieve Stowe in 1861 in Cleveland, Ohio to Joseph Milo Stowe and Abigail Whiting. Her mother died in 1878 of typhoid fever, and by 1880 Addy had left home. I have not found her anywhere in the 1880 census. By 1885 she was probably in White Lake, South Dakota, settling down to have her first child.

Addy was an accomplished dressmaker and seamstress.
She was remembered by her daughters as a kind but troubled person who had problems with men.

Willoughby Howe was born in 1841 to Francis Pomeroy Howe and his wife Elizabeth Smith in North Royalton, Ohio, southwest of Cleveland. He grew up on a farm in nearby Kipton, and served with distinction in the Civil War, enlisting at 19, and rising to the rank of 2nd lieutenant with the 43rd Ohio. He mostly found employment as a carpenter.

Ada recalled living in a sod house, like this one open for viewing near the South Dakota badlands. The family lived there for a time with their dog, Nero, and a horse, Captain. Ada reported ccasionally feeling threatened by visits from Sioux neighbors.

We don't know where this house stood in relation to the town of White Lake, but Ada later recalled seeing twinking lights on the water while sitting on the porch of her childhood, so they may have lived out near the lake for which the town is named.
It lies a mile or so north of Main Street.

Addy, in more prosperous times, was an attractive woman, but it wasn't enough to keep Willoughby around. By 1890, he was living in a different part of South Dakota. In fact, he officially married three times in his life, but wasn't the staying type. In coming west, he left two families back in Ohio: the children of his first marriage to Elizabeth Twining, who died; and the small children of his second marriage to Elizabeth Porter, who eventually filed a claim on his military pension on the grounds he had deserted them.
He was married one more time at the age of 73.
Although Ada and Zoe apparently never lived with their father after he and Addy separated, she stayed in touch with him, as at this 1910 reunion at her half-sister Orra Smith's house in Cuyahoga Falls. Ebba and Don are front and center.

Ada always helped take care of her little sister, who had a more emotional temperament than she.
She continued with this role for throughout her life, coming to her sister's rescue as late as the 1950s,
when Zoe was experiencing business and health problems.

Ada Marian, about 1894.

When Addy and Will arrived, sometime around 1883, White Lake was a brand-new town, with settlers coming in droves to take advantage of homesteading opportunities. There is no record of Will and Addy homesteading, but you had to stay put for several years to acquire land in this way, and they were together for a very short time.

All of this construction occurred in a very short time after the railroad came to White Lake.

Ada Marian was a self-educated person who read widely and was curious about the world in which she lived. She loved poetry, singing, sewing, and dance. White Lake's school was built in 1884, and she would have attended for at least a grade or two before they left South Dakota. This means she would have learned to read and write and figure in the classroom of Miss Mary Ryan.

These would have been some of the books she studied.

One of the harness shops in town, where Captain's tack and horseshoes would have been repaired.

After their parents split up, Addy and her girls moved into town and lived in a hotel, according to Ada. It was probably the White Lake House, right on Main Street. Ada and Zoe would spend long stretches of time alone together while their mother went out socializing.
It was here Addy met and married H. A. "Clint" Williams.

Main Street, 2015 -- not much longer than in the 1880s!

Heading north from the town of White Lake toward the lake of the same name.

Tara's Diner is located in the White Lake House building.
Willoughby Howe returned to Cleveland in the early 1900s, but eventually settled permanently in the West. He is laid to rest in Gregory, which is about an hour south of White Lake.

This is the cemetery where Willoughby Howe is buried, all dressed up for Memorial Day, 2015.