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Dr. Howison, meet Lt. Howison, explorer

Posted: Friday, May 9th, 2008


Dunes City resident has been digging up history about an

ancestor who sailed the Columbia River in the 1840s, when

the borders of Oregon Territory were being shaped.



Dr. Peter Howison bears some resemblance to the ancestor who helped determine Oregon borders in the days when the West was an undiscovered country.

Family papers describe Lt. Neil Howison, who captained an ill-fated schooner from Hawaii to the Columbia Gorge in 1846, as an “exhaustless conversationalist,” a leader, an explorer and an intrepid adventurer.

Dr. Peter Howison moved to Oregon from Ohio more than 10 years ago. In Columbus, he had his own practice.

A home on the shores of Siltcoos Lake sold him on Dunes City before he took a job as a family physician at Peace Harbor Hospital.

Peter’s house is tucked away some miles off a main road, down a hill and at the end of a dirt track. He has a view of the lake. He especially admires the giant fir trees in his front yard.

Peter was attracted to Oregon because of Governor Kitzhaber’s approach to health care. He is a backpacker, too. When Peter could get away from his Ohio clinic, he came out West to Oregon, Colorado and California.

Peter serves as a Dunes City councilor and became known for outspoken views during troubled times for a small town going through growing pains.

Peter has been fascinated with his family history since he was young. His family kept documents that told stories of his Scottish heritage in a roll-top desk.

“I was more interested in it than my other two brothers, so my father gave me the roll-top desk when he died,” says Peter.

Peter made trips to Scotland and Virginia to investigate his family history when he was older. In 1987, he visited Scotland. He traveled to Crammond, just outside Edinburgh, and visited the ancestral estate, called Braehead for its hillside.

“This cottage is probably a couple of miles, three miles from the ocean. That’s like me. I’m a couple of miles from the ocean,” says Peter.

In 1450, his ancestor, Jock Howison, was a poor farmer who lived in a small cottage.

“King James I of Scotland was apparently a peculiar king. He would go in disguise among his countrymen,” says Peter.

Once the king, disguised as a common person, was riding near Jock Howison’s cottage.

“He was just a farmer, and he was flailing grain when King James I was attacked by robbers on a little bridge,” says Peter. “Howison flailed away the robbers. He offered the king a basin of rosewater, he cleaned off his wounds.”

The stranger told the farmer to come to the castle to receive his reward.

“The way the story goes, they didn’t know he was a king until they got to the castle, and they were given all the land in view of the little cottage,” says Peter. “Then they got the whole estate, and he Dr. Peter Howison bears some resemblance to the ancestor who helped determine Oregon borders in the days when the West was an undiscovered country.

Family papers describe Lt. Neil Howison, who captained an ill-fated schooner from Hawaii to the Columbia Gorge in 1846, as an “exhaustless conversationalist,” a leader, an explorer and an intrepid adventurer.

Dr. Peter Howison moved to Oregon from Ohio more than 10 years ago. In Columbus, he had his own practice.

A home on the shores of Siltcoos Lake sold him on Dunes City before he took a job as a family physician at Peace Harbor Hospital.

Peter’s house is tucked away some miles off a main road, down a hill and at the end of a dirt track. He has a view of the lake. He especially admires the giant fir trees in his front yard.

Peter was attracted to Oregon because of Governor Kitzhaber’s approach to health care. He is a backpacker, too. When Peter could get away from his Ohio clinic, he came out West to Oregon, Colorado and California.

Peter serves as a Dunes City councilor and became known for outspoken views during troubled times for a small town going through growing pains.

Peter has been fascinated with his family history since he was young. His family kept documents that told stories of his Scottish heritage in a roll-top desk.

“I was more interested in it than my other two brothers, so my father gave me the roll-top desk when he died,” says Peter.

Peter made trips to Scotland and Virginia to investigate his family history when he was older. In 1987, he visited Scotland. He traveled to Crammond, just outside Edinburgh, and visited the ancestral estate, called Braehead for its hillside.

“This cottage is probably a couple of miles, three miles from the ocean. That’s like me. I’m a couple of miles from the ocean,” says Peter.

In 1450, his ancestor, Jock Howison, was a poor farmer who lived in a small cottage.

“King James I of Scotland was apparently a peculiar king. He would go in disguise among his countrymen,” says Peter.

Once the king, disguised as a common person, was riding near Jock Howison’s cottage.

“He was just a farmer, and he was flailing grain when King James I was attacked by robbers on a little bridge,” says Peter. “Howison flailed away the robbers. He offered the king a basin of rosewater, he cleaned off his wounds.”

The stranger told the farmer to come to the castle to receive his reward.

“The way the story goes, they didn’t know he was a king until they got to the castle, and they were given all the land in view of the little cottage,” says Peter. “Then they got the whole estate, and he

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