Howe family history was honored Thursday in Congress.
As anyone familiar with South Kitsap knows, the Howe name is interwoven throughout Port Orchard’s 125-year history. It began with William Fenton Howe, who on March 6, 1891, moved his family from Tacoma to the shores of Sinclair Inlet in the town known as Sidney (now Port Orchard). The Howes were movers and shakers in the town’s early government and commerce. Members of the family, including the late Gerry Howe Bruckart, remained influential throughout the 20th Century.
Anyone not familiar with the Howes’ contributions to Port Orchard ought to be, according to Edwin (Scott) Howe of Pierce County, great-grandson of William Fenton Howe. Edwin pitched to Congressman Derek Kilmer a proclamation noting March 6 as the 125th anniversary of the Howes’ arrival in Port Orchard. Kilmer was instrumental in authorizing the proclamation, which he read into the Congressional record on Thursday, according to Kilmer’s spokesman Jason Phelps.
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the William Fenton Howe family for their contributions to the history of the Pacific Northwest and to recognize their 125th anniversary of calling the city of Port Orchard, Wash., home,” Kilmer read.
The proclamation goes on to detail the lives of the Howes, who came to Washington in 1888 from Pennsylvania. They lived in Tacoma before arriving in Sidney in 1891. William and his wife Emma had five children: Harry, William, Edwin, Roy and Edith.
Sidney, incorporated in 1890, was the first town in Kitsap
County to do so. The Howes established Howe Hardware, serving a the
burgeoning lumber industry. Agriculture and a pottery works were
other major economic drivers in Port Orchard’s early days.
Following the death of his wife in 1985 and a fire at the hardware store, William Fenton Howe placed the children with families in the community and set off for Alaska to pursue opportunities in the booming mining industry there. Edwin Scott Howe joined his dad, and they provided stoves to the miners.
Back in Port Orchard, after the death of their father, Edwin and Harry Howe opened Howe Brothers Hardware. The family also owned Howe Motor Company, which supplied many of the first vehicles to the Kitsap Peninsula. Members of the Howe family served on the city council and were engaged in civic organizations. They rallied to bring electric power to the town and ensure the location of a veterans home in Retsil.
The Howe legacy continued with Gerry Howe Bruckart, a businesswoman and charter member of the Sidney Museum and Arts Association. Bruckart, who owned the Olde Central Antique Mall on bay Street, died in 2005 at 88.
Edwin Scott Howe tells us he is “the last of the Howe clan and never had any children. I am one of the original ‘Baby Boomers’ having been born March 13, 1946. I moved from Port Orchard in 1981 to Pierce County. My oldest sister, Judy Howe, is the sole surviving member of the original Howe family still living in Port Orchard. She was born September 12, 1942.”