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Rev. Clark Goodhue Howland was one of the early Unitarian ministers of Kansas. The work he did as pastor of that church at Lawrence made him widely known, but he is remembered not as a minister of creeds or denominations, but as a minister of service. He was the personification of kindness and sympathy, and the grateful memory that follows him is better than any form of material wealth.
Rev. Mr. Howland was born in Orleans County, New York, August 8, 1835. He was the eighth in direct line of descent from John Howland, who came to the American colonies as a passenger on the historic Mayflower. His father was Chester Howland. His father being a farmer, Mr. Howland grew up on a farm, and when a small boy his parents removed to Michigan, locating near Adrian. He attended the high school there and fitted himself for admission into the University of Michigan. About that time a severe illness turned the current of events and changed his circumstances so that he was never able to acquire a college training in regular course, though in point of scholarship and thoroughness he was the superior of many men whose advantages had been more liberal.
At an early day he decided upon the ministry as his vocation. Having to make his own living, he worked on a religious periodical in Chicago and New York City, and at the same time carried on his theological studies. He was ordained as a Universalist minister about 1860. His first charge was at Tremont near Bloomington, Illinois. While there he experienced a change of belief and espoused the Unitarian faith.
After being ordained he accepted the ministry at Kalamazoo, Michigan, and while there he met and in November, 1865, married Marcia Brown.
Marcia Brown was born near Kalamazoo, Michigan. Going to Ohio, she entered Antioch College at Yellow Springs and was a student there during the presidency (of Antioch) of Horace Mann. She graduated 1863. She was an ideal college bred wife and mother and many a bride from the country remembers with gratitude the home atmosphere she created in serving refreshments or providing bridal flowers, when the happy couple would drive in twenty miles and then go off on a wedding trip. Young people always found her responsive and sympathetic when they came to her for advice and comfort, and her gracious hospitality will never be forgotten.
Rev. Mr. Howland came to Lawrence, Kansas, in March, 1881. The congregation of which he took charge had its beginning in the territorial times. The church building in which he preached his first sermons was said to have been the first Protestant church in Kansas. In the service of that church Mr. Howland spent his last years. He died at Lawrence April 24, 1899.
No man in the religious circles of Kansas was better known. From 1881 to 1898 he was pastor of the church at Lawrence, and at the same time showed himself a man of great force and a personality in his community. He often regretted his lack of scholastic training, but he overcame this almost wholly by study and reading. His was a self education, and his attainments show the power of a concentrated mind. He was a lover of children, and his heart went out to the poor young people who were struggling to obtain an education. His church for this reason was greatly frequented by college students at Lawrence, and his home was always open to the students. A newspaper at the time of his death expressed what was felt throughout the city in the sentence “everyone had lost a friend.” He was always called Doctor Howland, but the title as a friend explained it, was “by the Grace of God but not by the Grace of Man.”
Mrs. Howland died February 17, 1909. They were the parents of two children: Marcella, who died in 1894 at the age of twenty-five; and Genevieve, who resided at Lawrence, the widow of Thomas H. Chalkley.