Henry Howell and Blanche Larzelere in Philadelphia

Howell <-> Hanano

(Article updated August 20, 2022)

Blanche Larzelere (1860 – 1923) was Henry Howell’s second wife.  We don’t know that much about her, so I thought I’d pull together what I’ve found so far in this post.

What a difference a generation makes.  Henry, a native of Georgia, his father a doctor in the Confederate Army, marries Blanche from Philadelphia, whose older brothers served in the Union Army.

After Henry’s return from Austria he moved to Philadelphia and opened a piano studio.  The reason Henry selected Philadelphia instead of a city in his home state of Georgia is not clear.

Blanche and Henry married in Philadelphia in 1908.  She was 47 and he was 42.  As far as we know, Henry was her only marriage and there were no children.  They lived at 165 Harvey Street in Philadelphia.

We know little about Blanche other than our family lore says she was a member of society, and a patron of the arts in Philadelphia, and therefore likely to have met Henry through his music.

Philadelphia Times, Friday August 8, 1902:  “Mrs. Rebecca Larzelere and her daughter Miss Blanche Elder Larzelere are at Belmar for the rest of the summer.”

Blanche was the youngest of six.  She had a sister Annie and four brothers: William, Washington Irving, Clifford Earle and Benjamin Franklin.  It would be interesting to hear from their descendants.

Some details about the Larzelere family emerge from Blanche’s mother’s obituary in The Churchman – Oct 13, 1906

Another obituary of unknown source…

Mrs. Rebekah Larzelere, Eldest daughter of the late Captain William T. Elder, of the artillery service of the War of 1812, and widow of William Larzelere, a merchant broker and a member of City Councils, died yesterday morning in her eighty-fifth year.

Mrs. Larzelere was prominent in church and charity work, being instrumental in the formation of two parishes, that of the Holy Cross of Germantown, now St. Michael’s and the Incarnation, whose church is at Broad and Jefferson sts. She was a lineal descendant of one of Philadelphia’s old shipping merchants, William Thomas Smith, a West India planter who came here before the Revolution. His wharves are still known as Smith’s wharves.

Mrs. Larzelere was actively engaged in charities for the soldiers during the Civil War, and especially interested in the Cooper Shop Hospital and the Volunteer Refreshment Saloon. Her two oldest sons were in the army then. She is survived by two sons–Clifford Earle and Washington Irving–and two daughters–Miss Blanche Elder and Mrs. Annie Elizabeth Haverstick.

Henry and Blanche were married for 15 years until her death in September 1923.

Her will, dated May 11, 1917, names Henry Howell executor.  A part of her will reads as follows:

I would like, if my husband so desires that my home be kept intact, and all contents to remain as they are during his lifetime. At his death, should my sister Annie, or my brother Clifford be living I desire that they should have and control the family silver, tea set etc., cut glass and old mahogany hall clock.

Within months of Blanche’s death Henry moved to Cuthbert, Georgia where he shared a home with his youngest brother Edward Lathrop Howell, and his two sisters, Mildred Eva Howell, and Bertha Howell Camp.  (Please also see: Cuthbert, GA – Home of Henry Howell)

Blanche is buried in the West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd.   It is the site of many notable burials, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Others in her family are buried a few miles away in the St. James The Less Episcopal Churchyard which is also in the National Historical Register.

Larzelere – Name, spelling, and Family Background

I’ve found a great variety in the spelling of “Larzelere” in historical US Census pages and some death certificates.  It’s easy to understand why as the spelling is not obvious if listening to the spoken word.  Newspaper articles, books, church records, cemetery records, headstones, and family genealogists almost always use Larzelere however, so I’ve adopted that.

Spelling examples – Headstones and newspapers tend to use “Larzelere”

According to the Dictionary of American Family Names, Larzelere is an Americanized form of French La Resiliere, which may perhaps be a habitational name from la Roussillière in Rhône.

Nicholas H. Larzelere (1851-1925)

Some of the origins of the Larzelere family in America are documented on page six of “The Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania”  The article is about Blanche’s third cousin, Nicholas H. Larzelere (1851-1925) who was an accomplished lawyer. It begins as follows:  

“The revocation of the famous Edict of Nantes, signed by Henry IV, in 1598, which gave religious freedom to all parties, was an act which lost to France many of her best and most desirable citizens, a large number of families finally finding refuge in America.

Among those who fled from the persecutions following the ill-advised action of Louis XIV were Nicholas and John Larzelere, who settled on Long Island. Nicholas removed ultimately to Staten Island, where he married and reared a family which consisted of two sons, Nicholas and John, and two daughters. Of the sons, Nicholas, in 1741, removed with his family to Bucks county, Pennsylvania, and settled in Lower Makefield Township. He died at the age of eighty-four, having reared a family of eight children, and was buried in the Episcopal graveyard at Bristol…..”

Nicholas Henry Larzelere was nine years older than Blanche and lived in nearby Montgomery County, so it is possible they knew of each other.  The chart below shows their relationship – third cousins, once removed.  Their common (2x and 3x respectively) great grandparents are Nicholas (1718-1799), mentioned in the quote above, and his wife Elizabeth. 

Click chart above for the most current version from the database