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The Historical Society of Prattsburgh

Paul Cook Howe

Paul Cook HoweBorn in Cohocton November 26, 1823, Paul Cook Howe came to Prattsburgh at age seven along with a younger sister, Emily, to live with an Aunt, upon the death of his mother. He was educated in the Franklin Academy and quite early in life became a teacher. He taught at a school in Rikers Hollow (known today as Ingleside) in 1844-1845. While teaching, he became involved in the Young Men’s Lyceum and was made 2nd Vice President. In 1846 Paul went to New York City to study Phrenology.

For a time, he was engaged in the mercantile business in the village of Prattsburgh, but unfortunately lost everything in a fire. Being deep in debt, Howe was saved by a partnership with Otis Shepherd. With his help, he was able to erect a stone building in which in 1872, he was able to start the Prattsburgh News as its editor. This stone building for many years has housed many different businesses, even a Prattsburgh State Bank. The paper had a circulation of just less than 1000. Politically, Paul was a Whig, but he was the first to identify himself with the Republican Party upon its organization. Paul was one of the first to give his time for the good of the country by enlisting and organizing a company, which went out a hundred strong.

In 1848, he married the love of his life, Miss Abitha S. Alderman. They were lucky enough to have reared 3 sons; Will L., George, and Beecher, and 4 daughters, Mary, Alice, Charlotte, and Adelaide. It was planned that after his death, Will and George would continue the newspaper, which they did. They did move the newspaper business to the South end of Main Street and improved some of the equipment and it continued until the late 1920’s.

Their home located on 7 North Main Street has been in the family for many years. In late 1889 he donated the land on which Howe Street is located. The main reason he did this is because so many people were coming to Prattsburgh and had no place to build a home. With the street in place, Paul was able to sell building lots. He left 6 feet on the North side for a sidewalk, bringing this line very close to Van Tuyl’s.

His wife of 42 years, Abitha, was the sociable member of the family, by visiting family and friends and was able to keep track of people in Prattsburgh. This fact was very good for her husband’s business. He always had up to date news for his paper. Her interests were gardening, needlework, and she was a tireless reader. She was very much interested in today’s news and any scientific discoveries. In spite of her deafness, she was never idle!

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