Howard Edwin Simpson was born July 9, 1874 in Clarence, Iowa to Hiram and Frances (Carter) Simpson. He graduated from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, in 1896. He went on to teach science and serve as principle at Knoxville High School in Knoxville, Iowa, where he met Carrie Bonebrake. Howard and Carrie were married December 30, 1903. After the wedding, they left for Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Howard pursued a Master of Arts Degree at Harvard University. After receiving his degree in 1905, he became associate professor of geology at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, for about four years. In 1909, he moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota, to accept a position at the University of North Dakota.
Howard was a professor of geology and geography from 1909 to 1938 at UND. He also worked for the North Dakota Geological Survey, the Canadian Geological Survey and the United States Weather Bureau. He was a member of the American Association of University Professors, the North Dakota Academy of Science, Phi Beta Kappa, and the North Dakota State Geographic Board. Howard authored or joint authored several publications.
Howard and Carrie had four children: Jesse, Robert, Carolyn, and Howard Jr.. Carolyn, only four years old, died in a tragic accident on July 25, 1919, in Grand Forks. Carrie was active in University affairs and women’s groups. She was the first woman president of the University Faculty Club in 1923. She was also involved with P.E.O. where she was the first president of the Grand Forks chapter. She also helped organize a statewide chapter in 1914 and served as the North Dakota state president from 1916 to 1917. Carrie also served as president of the P.E.O. Supreme Chapter from 1943 to 1945.
Howard Edwin Simpson died January 31, 1938, in Grand Forks. His death preceded that of Carrie, who died February 25, 1964.