In 1804, Hannah Hastings of Wilmington, Delaware, visited the Howard’s community and struck up a friendship and correspondence with Horton. Hannah’s letters were filled with admiration for Horton. I have wondered whether this admiration and friendship naturally blossomed into something warmer, or whether 30 year old Hannah suspected that Horton would soon be widowed again.
In September, 1804, Horton’s second wife, Mary Dew, died of “internal damage,” leaving Horton with his 12 year old son, Henry by his first wife, and with three children that he and Mary shared. Joseph was 6 years old, Rachel was 2, and Horton Jefferson Howard was 6 months.
When Horton’s obligatory one year mourning period ended, Hannah was caring for a dying mother, and then helping to settle her estate, all while writing to Horton about their plans to marry. With the pressure of changing season and difficulty in travel, Horton convinced Hannah that waiting had disadvantages, and they were married on December 5, 1806. Hannah was 32 and Horton was 36. Over the course of the following 10 years, they added 6 more children to their family.