Charles Howard lived an unremarkable life. He came to Cincinnati from Kentucky around 1920, when he was already well up in years. He worked as a manual laborer. He lived in a dingy room in the West End. Everyone called him “Charlie.” When he died, on February 25, 1948, he was very elderly, probably in his nineties, though some people thought he was older.

Only after his death, when a physician examined him, was it discovered that Charlie Howard was biologically a woman. He had lived his entire life as a man.

Charlie Howard was even married to a woman, for four months, in 1902. Her name was Mary Smith. She was the widow of Anderson Smith, a friend of Charlie’s. Charles and Mary were married in Bourbon County, Kentucky, on Christmas Day 1902, by Rev. R. Quarles. They split up after four months, but Mary Smith Howard continued to use her husband's name – "Mary Howard" – and she never gave away his secret. She predeceased him in 1940.

The best source of information about Charles Howard is the article "Sex Secret Kept for Scores of Years," Cincinnati Enquirer, February 25, 1948, p. 12, which includes a photo of Mr. Howard.

Charles Howard was buried in Union Baptist Cemetery, Section A, Lot 10. This lot (which includes several graves) was owned by E. J. Howard, perhaps a relative. The lot has a corner-marker, but there is no grave marker for Charles Howard.



Chris Hanlin, “Gravesite of Charles Howard,” Cincinnati Sites and Stories, accessed October 5, 2022,