Howes Family Reunion

 Three of the grandchildren of Micajah and Flora Howes, the children of their youngest daughter Beth and Walter McNaughten: Ruth Enns, David McNaughten and Evangeline Thiessen.

 
When the Howes Family held a reunion in Millet this year, there were 74 from four generations of the family present at the keynote dinner.  The oldest was 92 years young, the youngest 15 months.  They came from as far away as Florida, Newfoundland, Ontario as well as many parts of Alberta.   
Micajah Howes travelled to Western Canada and the Millet area in 1899 and filed on two homesteads, one for himself and one for his oldest son, Horace, in the Hillside School district south-west of Millet.  He then returned to Massachusetts to bring his family to their new home.  He and his wife, Flora, along with their children, Horace, Thomas, Mildred, Nathan and Roger, and their furnishings and livestock arrived back at their homestead in 1900.  In 1907 another daughter, Beth, was added to the fam Horace Willard, 1882 – 1964, married Annie Shears, had two daughters, and became a Salvation Army officer who worked most of his life in Ontario.
Thomas Hawley, 1888 – 1981, married Ruth Bloom, had three daughters, and took over the family farm in 1925.  Ruth was very active in the community for which she was honoured by the Millet Museum.  Thomas was the one who truly knew this area and its people.
Mildred Isabel, 1890 – 1974, married Howard Marr and had a son and a daughter.  Mildred was educated in Chicago and returned as one of the early teachers at Hillside School.
Nathan Micajah, 1894 – 1951, married Olive May Moffat, had three sons and five daughters, and became a chiropractor working in Ontario.
Roger Williams, 1898 – 1993, married Mary Fickett, had two daughters, and was a missionary to China.  His niece, Irma, who won the reunion prize for having the most grandchildren and great grandchildren at the reunion, told me about the way Roger's family had spent World War II in a Japanese concentration camp which had been a university campus.  She was very proud of the way   Roger had stepped up as a leader, organizing the people into groups for the various activities such as cooking, school for the children, developed an executive committee, divided the living space with curtains so each family could have equal private space, contrived beds above beds to increase living space, organized a church with a co-pastor, etc.  He did much to prevent chaos and keep peace within the concentration camp.
Mary Elizabeth (Beth), 1907 – 2005, married Walter McNaughton, and had two sons and two daughters.  Beth became a teacher and taught for five years in one-room schools near Millet and Gwynne, then attended Prairie Bible Institute.  When she was doing mission work in the Hines Creek area in 1936, Walter McNaughton recruited her to teach at the Peace River Bible Institute in Sexsmith.  She worked in various staff roles at the school, including being virtually private secretary for McNaughton.  In an evening conversation in the late spring of 1939, they “found we love each other, a wonderful evening” in the words of McNaughton's diary.  They were soon married.  Walter McNaughton was first and foremost a missionary and evangelist, founder of the Peace River Bible Institute, but he also earned his master electricians papers (1955), a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Alberta (1970), and a Masters of Arts degree from the University of Oregon (1975).  In 1989 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree from Briercrest Bible Institute.  From 1975 to 1998, Walter and Beth McNaughton retired in Millet where they continued a very busy life with much involvement in the community.  It was during this time that Beth was a founding member of the Millet Historical Society and did much of the work which earned her recognition by the Millet Museum.  They finished their lives in Grande Prairie where their two daughters live.  There they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in June 2004.  Beth passed away April 11, 2005, and Walter joined her January 11, 2006.  Because of the extent of Walter's work, Beth and Walter would be the best known of the Howes' family members, at least in central and northern Alberta.
The Howes were one of the many pioneer families who had a strong faith.  The family started every day with devotions, a Bible reading and prayer.  They attended Sunday School and church whenever possible.  There were usually some members of the family in full time work for the Lord.  Then and now, they are the kind of capable, intelligent, inventive and faithful people that form the bedrock of our nation.
 
Editor’s note: Walter and Beth McNaugton , lived across the street from us on 50th. Ave Millet. When Dian and I were to be married we asked Walter, then in his late eighties to perform the service. He had to ask his church council and the Alberta Government for special permission as his papers as an ordained minister had expired. He was granted the nessesary permission from the council and the government granted him a one day licence to perform the cerimony. Dian and I still feel deeply honoured to have known Walter and Beth McNaugton.
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