Grace & Louis Remembered

04 May

Grace Hartley Howe (cousin to Lizzie Borden and major legatee in her Will) and her husband, Louis McHenry Howe, “the man behind Roosevelt”, have long been favorites of mine in the Borden saga.

Often disregarded or minimized in the role they played in Lizzie’s life, I find them fascinating in their own right.   As it turned out, by the time Grace received the cash (along with with Helen Leighton) three years before Louis’ death, it was a financial windfall at a time sorely needed.

To put events into a better perspective, here is a partial timeline where it can be seen 1936 was a pivotal year for Grace:

November, 1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt wins election to his first term as President of the United States.
February 7, 1933 Grace Howe and Helen Leighton each receive $4,500 from Lizzie’s Will.
February 17, 1933 2nd Probate Court accounting filed by Charles Cook on Lizzie’s Will for period May 2, 1929 thru Jan.1, 1932.
February 17, 1933 3rd Probate Court accounting filed by Charles Cook on Lizzie’s Will: period May 2, 1929 thru Nov. 28, 1932.
March 3, 1933 Grace Hartley Howe & Helen Leighton sign 4th & Final Account of Probate.
March 4, 1933 Franklin Delano Roosevelt is inaugurated as the 32nd U.S. president.
March 24, 1933 4th & Final Probate Court acctg. filed by Cook on Lizzie’s Will – period Nov. 28, 1932 thru March 3, 1933.
April 13, 1933 Emma Borden’s estate sells Maplecroft.
April 27, 1933 The play: Nine Pine Street opens on Broadway at Longacre Theatre starring Lillian Gish as Lizzie Borden.
January 29, 1934 The huge Merchant Mill, 14th St. extending from Pleasant to Bedford, destroyed by fire.
1934 Victoria Lincoln’s book February Hill is first published; some characters based on real Fall River people.
1934 American Print Works, one of the largest factories in Fall River, closes.
1934 The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is formed to regulate broadcasting
September 28, 1934 Charles Cook dies at age 80 in Fall River (6 months after final settlement of Lizzie Borden’s estate).
1935 Pearson, Edmund. “Legends of Lizzie” published in More Studies in Murder.” NY: Smith & Haas
1935 The “Monopoly” board game is patented in the U.S.
August 31, 1935 Louis McHenry Howe enters Bethsheba Naval Hospital
April 18, 1936 Louis McHenry Howe dies at Bethesda Naval Hospital; has state funeral in East Room of White House.  Eleanor Roosevelt contacts Grace Howe in Fall River and notifies her death of Louis.
February 20, 1936 Gertrude Baker dies.
From TIME Magazine – published about 3 months after Louis McHenry Howe’s death (April 18, 1936)

Relict’s Recompense

While he lived, the nation hardly knew that Louis McHenry Howe had a wife. Quartered like a bachelor in Abraham Lincoln’s White House room, Franklin Roosevelt’s gnarled and gnomish No. 1 Secretary was a member of the private as well as the official Presidential family, spent more time in Washington than he did at home in Fall River, Mass.

Last week it was revealed that, while her famed husband devoted himself to Franklin Roosevelt’s affairs, plump, grey-eyed Grace Hartley Howe has done more than sit at home rearing his son and daughter. She is a director of Fall River’s Family Welfare Association, Historical Society, Ninth Street Day Nursery and of the League of Nations Association; advisory board member of the Consumers’ League of Massachusetts and of various local WPA projects; trustee of the Bristol County Agricultural School and Fall River Public Library; secretary of Massachusetts’ Democratic State Committee and vice chairman of Fall River’s Democratic City Committee; member of the Fall River Women’s Club, American Association of University Women, Massachusetts Horticultural Society, New England Farm and Garden Club, English-Speaking Union. League of Women Voters. D. A. R., Fall River Vassar Club and the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiques.

None of these activities, however, has made her rich, and Louis Howe left “less than $20,000.” Last week President Roosevelt recompensed his most devoted and intimate friend’s relict for virtual widowhood during her husband’s later life by appointing her acting postmaster of Fall River, at $4,000 per year.”

1936 The federal law prohibiting the dissemination of contraceptive information through the mail is modified and birth control information is no longer classified as obscene.
April 19, 1936 Grace and son Hartley travel from Fall River to Wash. DC.
April 22, 1936 President Franklin D. Roosevelt attends Louis McHenry Howe’s burial funeral in Fall River at Oak Grove Cemetery.
July 17, 1936 Louis McHenry Howe estate valued at $20,000.
June 3, 1936 Arthur Sherman Phillips writes to son of Defense Attorney Robinson asking to be forwarded Lizzie’s answers to the questions he posed her back in 1892.
June 23-27, 1936 Grace Hartley Howe attends Democratic Nat’l Convention in Philadelphia as a Delegate At-large.
July 17, 1936 Grace Hartley Howe named FR Postmistress.  (Time Mag. July  27, 1936)
October 21, 1936 FDR & wife visit to Delano Family Homestead at 39 Walnut St. following a campaign speech in New Bedford.
1936 More Studies in Murder by Edmund Pearson is published.
December 10, 1936 King Edward VIII abdicates the throne.

3 responses to “Grace & Louis Remembered

  1. Letitia Baker

    April 26, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    Hello! I love this story, as Grace is my great great grandmother and I have always loved looking up my ancestors. Thanks for the great information!

    • Brianna Howe

      December 31, 2011 at 9:50 PM

      How did you find out you were related to her I am curios because my last name is Howe

      • phayemuss

        January 1, 2012 at 5:38 PM

        Huh? I’m not related to her. 🙂


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