BIOGRAPHY and GENEALOGY
(1791 – 1866)
North Carolina, Georgia, Coosa County, Alabama
(Excerpt from History of Coosa County: by the Rev. George Evans Brewer, 1887)
Howell Rose was a native of North Carolina, where he was born in 1791, but was early brought to Putnam County, Georgia, by his parents. He came to Alabama in 1816, settling just west of Wetumpka in Autauga County.
In 1819 he was elected to the Senate as a member of the first Legislature that convened in the State after its admission into the Union. He held the place three years, but then retired from public life, devoting himself to business so successfully that he became very wealthy. He removed to Coosa in 1834, and was the most wealthy citizen of the county and among those of the State. He settled about four miles above Wetumpka, near the Indian town of Little Tallassee. He started life poor, but his wife brought him some property, but the most of his great estate of land, slaves, and money were the outcome of his industry and management. His estate (after the freedom of his slaves, the loss and depreciation of the war) at his death was estimated at $400,000.00.
In 1843 the people induced him to offer for the House, and he was elected. Yancey was in the Senate at the time. Rose continued in the House through 1843-44-45, making a vigorous effort to have the capitol removed from Tuscaloosa to Wetumpka. For awhile there was strong hopes of success, but Montgomery secured the prize. After this, though feeling interest and taking an active part in a private way in politics, he was no more before the public for office.
In his person he was tall, of a large, well-proportioned frame, and had a commanding appearance. He was a man of strong mind, firm convictions, indomitable will, and earnest in his likes and dislikes. He was brusque in speech, uttering his thoughts without much regard to whether it would please or offend the hearer. He was devoid of policy which shapes itself to the thoughts of others. When once offended he was almost implacable.
Mr. Thompson, a fine artist of Wetumpka, painted, by agreement, a splendid full length portrait of Rose standing by the side of a horse he had ridden in the chase. One hand was on the horse’s withers, holding the bridle reins. The other held the gun, the butt of which rested on the ground. There laid, at his feet a fine stag just killed, the blood oozing from the hole where the ball had entered; and around him a pack of panting hounds, watching the victim they had chased to his death. The painting was good, the scene natural, and the finish of the picture was that peculiarly bright tone which characterized Thompson’s paintings. Before the painting was completed Thompson had done something that offended Rose, and he refused to take the picture. Suit was brought, but he fought the case from court to court. When judgment went against him of course payment had to be made, but he would not then have the picture, and a good while afterward the writer saw it in the studio.
Some people depredated much on a large body of woodland lying some miles above Wetumpka, hauling pine off of it to their homes and to Wetumpka for sale. He ran ditches around it for miles where it was exposed, to protect his pine. Still some would trespass. Going along the road one day he met a lad with a wagon load of lightwood that he was satisfied had been taken from his premises. He deliberately set fire to the load, and let it and the wagon burn down. For this he was sued, and heavy damages obtained, but he seemed satisfied as he had his revenge.
He was a large money lender but asked only eight per cent interest. In the fall of 1865, a small band of Federal soldiers who had heard of his wealth, and that he probably had a good sum of gold, went to his house and demanded it. He refused to gratify their demand. They broke open all places where they supposed it might be concealed, and tore up his hearths in the hope of finding it. Failing, they threatened to kill him if he did not give them the money or reveal its hiding place. He replied they could not shorten his days much. They hung him for awhile, and let him down, asking if he would not tell them now. His reply was, “I have it, but would see you in hell before I would tell you.” They hung him up the third time, and had nearly finished him, and likely would have done so, had not Major Ed Ready and some others from Wetumpka come to the rescue just then. When the squad of Federals left Wetumpka these men suspected the squad was after some mischief, and as soon as they could procure horses and weapons they followed, coming in time to save Colonel Rose’s life. The Wetumpkians were discovered by the Federals time enough to mount and start from the house of Colonel Rose. Ready and his crowd followed, but the soldiers made through the woods to the river and passed over amid the fire of the pursuers, but only one of the gang was killed. Rose died not a great while after this, leaving a widow. He had no children. He gave the Ft. Jackson plantation to Col. Liddon Saxon, Benjamin Trimble, and W. T. Hatchett as compensation for being executors of his will.
NOTE: Below is additional information from Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama: For Thirty Years by William Garrett, Plantation Publishing Company’s Press 1872
Rose represented Autuaga County in the Senate in 1819. Afterward, he was involved in many fierce political and personal broils. He also owned extensive bodies of land in Autauga and Lowndes Counties. The loss of his very large property by the war, or at least a considerable portion of it, preyed upon his spirits, and probably hastened his death in 1866.