Rev. William Howard was born in Mallow, County Cork, Ireland, December 4, 1815. He made his classical studies at Killarney College where he became proficient in Latin and Greek. When Father was twenty years of age, he came to America and entered a theological seminary in the South.
After Father Howard was ordained in 1842, he was assigned to his first mission which comprised 70 counties, a district the size of New York State. He was ordained only two weeks, when he built a Church, much after the fashion of the log cabin. Because of his administrative ability, Father Howard was responsible for building many churches in the Albany Diocese.
Bishop Conroy, of Albany, sent Father Howard to the missions of Herkimer, Mohawk, Ilion and Frankfort in 1867. In August 1867, Father Howard purchased from J. B. Pelton, of Ilion, a house and lot, containing two and one half acres of land, for $4,500, for the first Church and rectory. Arrangements were made for the building of the Church in April of 1868, and in August of that same year, the Church was dedicated by Bishop J. Conroy. The Benson car garage occupied the area where the first Church was built. Father Howard remained in Ilion, until 1878, and then he went to Herkimer.
In 1884, Father Howard retired from the active ministry. On February 25, 1888, he received the Last Rites of the Church which he loved and served so well. His body was brought to Annunciation Church for the funeral services. The pall-bearers were John Giblin, Edmond Roche and Thomas Ringwood of Ilion; and James Powell, Henry Deimel and James Fagan of Herkimer. Father Howard's body lies in St. Agnes Cemetary, section D., surmouted by a beautiful monument.