A Stanton Cousin

An anecdote appears in The Life and Times of Edwin McMasters Stanton. Variations of this anecdote appear elsewhere in histories of the man who would become Secretary of War under President Lincoln.

Stanton was living in Columbus, working at a bookstore, and boarding with the Howard family, when ¬†“during the spring and early summer of 1833, the cholera, which had struck heavily in eastern Ohio, moved menacingly eastward along the route of the National Road. The epidemic began raging in Columbus during the unusually hot summer months. On August 9, Stanton was served his midday dinner by Ann Howard, and the returned to the bookstore. An hour later Ann collapsed. At 4 p.m. she was dead. As a precautionary measure, to keep the plague from spreading, her family buried her at once. When Stanton learned of the horrible event, he experienced a morbid conviction that she had been buried alive. Persuading a young medical student and anotehr boarder to help, he¬†hurried to the burial ground and by lamplight exhumed and opened the casket.”

What is not reported anywhere, is that Stanton was half-second cousin to Horton Howard, the father of the young woman who died. When I read this story, I recognized that Horton’s mother was a Stanton. The Stantons and Howards were Quakers, and their careful record keeping allowed me to make the connection.


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