Elisabeth “Bette” Howdee

Elisabeth “Bette” Howdee

Appears in a Record From 1781

Elisabeth “Bette” Howdee is a Sakonnet woman almost lost to history except that she appears in her husband Captain John Howdee’s will. Bette and John Howdee were members of Mammanuah’s band of Sakonnets at Acoaxet. In 1689 Mammanuah gave them land on the Acoaxet River for “love, good will and affection.” That reward was probably connected to John’s loyal service to the English during military expeditions to Canada.

Bette and John had four children: Jacob, June Abel, Sarah, and Josiah. Bette endured her husband’s long absences while he was at war. It would have been up to her to care for their children, their home, and their fields during those absences. The family was Christian and literate, and likely attended the local Indian Meeting House near Adamsville.

Later in life the Howdees moved to Middleborough, MA. According to John’s 1711 will, their adult children no longer wanted to live in Little Compton. However, Sarah Howdee, Bette’s descendant, returned here. Newspapers called her the last of Awashonks’ tribe in her 1827 death notice.

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Outdoor exhibit panel from the 2020 special exhibition, The Little Compton Women’s History Project.