Despite being a first son of hockey, Thomas Henry Howard left surprisingly few markers resulting in a confusing trail across the ledgers of history. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he really grew up in Brooklyn. As a result, Tom Jr. was actually more of Brooklynite than a Winnipegger. When Canadian and American WW1 demands threatened to ensnarl the Howards, Tom chose his fate by joining the United States Navy Reserve Force. While in the USNRF, Tom played hockey for Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. In all the numerous teams, leagues, and travel, Tom wins his own hockey championship in the California Cal-Pro league in 1930 with the Shell Oil Tigers. Unfortunately, few trail markers remain after 1930 until his death in 1971. Regardless of how his trail meandered, he exemplified, “Family above all.”
Tom Jr. was raised at the table of winter sports. Tom Sr. won the Stanley Cup and reinvented himself in New York and Pittsburgh. Kathleen taught skating in Winnipeg and New York. She possibly taught young Jack how to speed skate. Not to mention, Winnipeg newspaper noted her gracefulness at various winter galas of her youth. But, Tom Jr. seemed to desire a more subdued life.
In many respects, Tom’s father hints at managing his sons like hockey players. Tom Jr. appears to start referring during the 1912-1913 season. Then, Tom moves to playing in the 1913-1914 season. However, news coverage seems to increase when Jack matures into amateur hockey by 1916. At this time, everyone is reading about WWI, and the Howards are still Canadian and subjects of the King of England.
Looking at the available facts, Tom joined the USNRF in Newport, Rhode Island in part due to patriotic pride for the United States. Additionally, other reasons may have influenced Tom Jr’s and Jack’s decisions to join the USNRF. Regardless of the motivation, Tom played in the USN hockey league for the Newport (R.I.) and Charlestown (Boston) Navy Yards. The US Navy trained Tom to play with mines. Tom and his brother, Jack, was assigned to the U.S.S. Canandaigua. They possibly particpated in the North Sea mine barrage. Whether they went with the fleet, Tom referred a Brookleny high school hockey game on 11 Jan, 1919.
After the death of his brother Jack in Dec 1919, Tom moved to California and married Natalie Matthews. Listing a California home address, Tom Jr. continued to play for his father’s teams on the East Coast from 1920 until 1924. During the late-twenties, he played for a variety of teams until landing on the 1930 Shell Oil Tigers team. Under Ernie Miller, the Shell Oil Tigers team beat the Vancouver Ballards to secure the CalPro championship. In 1949, Los Angeles Monarchs honored Tom Howard Jr and four others for bringing hockey to California. All the while, Tom and Natalie ensured the care of their parents.
From census records, Natalie’s father and then Tom’s parents lived with them in California. Natalie’s father moved from New York to be recorded in a 1920 California Census. When the next census happened in 1930, Tom’s parents, Tom Sr. and Kathleen, had moved in. From all the travels between New York and California, Tom Jr. appears to have supported his family’s decisions and supported the decisions of the family he married. As a result, it appears that he believed in family above all else.
the 1949’s tribute is really the last easy marker that Tom and Natalie Howard leave. A phone book entry here or may be a property records there. Tom died in Denver, Co. in 1971 and Natalie died in June of 1986. They died childless. Thus, with their deaths, ended the line of hockey greats.
1. Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency, Birth Record: 1894-002467, http://vitalstats.gov.mb.ca/Query.php, last accessed 12 Aug 2018
2. The New York Times, Sunday, January 26, 1913 pg 69, courtesy of newspapers.com
3. Hartford Courant Thursday, March 5, 1914 pg 16, courtesy of newspapers.com
6. Brooklyn Eagle, Saturday, January 11, 1919, pg 8, courtesy of newspapers.com
7. “California, County Marriages, 1850-1952,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8FB-YBP : 8 December 2017), Thomas Henry Howard and Natalie Matthews, 19 May 1921; citing Los Angeles, California, United States, county courthouses, California; FHL microfilm 2,074,267.
8. San Bernardino County Sun (California), Wednesday, January 16, 1924, pg 9, courtesy of newspapers.com
9. Los Angeles Times, February 26, 1949, courtesy of ProQuest.
10. “United States Social Security Death Index,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JTHC-HM7 : 19 May 2014), Thomas Howard, Nov 1977; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
11. “United States Social Security Death Index,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J1B8-5YD : 20 May 2014), Natalie Howard, Mar 1987; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).