Lt. William Howard in officer's uniform
Lt. William Howard was the bandleader of the Sixteenth Battalion, the segregated all-black unit of the Minnesota Home Guard. Born in Maryland, William came to Minnesota in the 1880s when he was about 13 years old. In 1884, at the age of 17, he married a 15-year-old German immgrant named Emma. They were married for about 50 years, and lived their whole married life on Snelling Avenue in Minneapolis.
When he was a younger man, Howard was a coachman. By 1900, he was working as a music teacher, a job he continued through the 1920s.