Volume 4, Number 2 - Winter 1970-71

Delaware Farm on the James River
By Andrew Howard

Francis Calvin Howard and his brother, Woodson, came to Missouri in 1837 from Caswell County, North Carolina. Dr. Walter L. Howard, a grand-son of Woodson Howard, wrote a book in 1949 entitled: "Ten Generations of Virginia Howards" in which the genealogy of the Howard family is set forth. This book starts with the arrival of John Howard in Virginia from England in 1635. Dr. Howard was a professor in the University of California.

Francis Calvin Howard purchased land on the James River extending Southward from the mouth of Wilson Creek to what later became the Ozark and Mr. Vernon road linking the county seats of Christian and Lawrence counties. Only a few years before this land had been the site of a village of the Delaware Indians. It had been a favorite hunting and camping place for the Osage Indians which accounted for the conflicts between the Osage and Delaware Indians. Many Indian arrowheads and other Indian artifacts have been found on the Howard farm.

There is evidence that prehistoric Indians used this location for their village. There were a number of Indian graves on the farm on a bluff on the West side of the river. An excellent article appeared in the December 1956 issue of The Missouri Archaeologist giving an account of the excavation of the largest of these graves. The arrowheads, beads, pottery and other artifacts found in the grave are described. These were graves of the Woodland People who lived in this part of Missouri in about 1400.

It is easy to understand why the Indians chose this location at which to live. It was good hunting and fishing territory. There was plenty of wood and water. The soil in the bottom was rich for raising their corn, beans and squash. The wild food which was available and is still to be found on the farm included: walnuts, hickory nuts, butternuts, hazelnuts, acorns, blackberries, raspberries, huckleberries, gooseberries and paw paws. For these same reasons some of the early white pioneers chose this part of the James River Valley in which to settle.

Christian County was part of Greene County when Francis Calvin Howard purchased his first land. He lived on this farm until his death in 1873. He acquired other land in the area in later years.

In 1842, Francis Calvin Howard married Martha Ann Porter, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Porter. The Porter family moved to Missouri from Tennessee in 1832 and purchased a farm on the East side of the James River at a place where Highway 14 bridge now crosses the river. Some of the Delaware Indians had not yet left under the provisions of the James Fork Treaty of 1829, but these remaining Indians departed in the following year. Joseph Porter was a hunter and trapper and the story is that he caught the last two beavers on this part of the James River. It is interesting to note that with a return of some of the original wildlife to the Ozarks that there are beavers again on the Howard farm.

Francis Calvin Howard and Sidney S. Ingram built a gristmill in 1840 on the James River about two miles above the Howard farm. This mill was rebuilt and changed names and ownership a number of times over the years. Francis Calvin Howard was a partner in the mill until shortly before the Civil War. There is a low water bridge at that location at the present time and it is generally known as the Nelson Mill site.

Schools and teachers for children were a problem in pioneer times. Francis Calvin Howard was interested in education and in obtaining the best teachers possible. A school house was located on his farm on the East side of the river for a few years, and later a school house was located on his farm on the West side of the river and used for a good many years.

A few years before the Civil War, in connection with the final distribution of his father’s estate in North Carolina, Francis Calvin Howard received four negro slaves. All of the negroes were good and congenial persons. One of them was a big strong young man who would have brought a top price, but such was unthinkable to the new owner. The negroes did not leave the farm immediately


after the Civil War, but did move to Springfield within a few years, and as was customary took the name of Howard. Jack Howard, the son of Francis Calvin Howard, was only a small boy at the time, but there was a strong friendship between him and one of the older negro women, and he visited with her in Springfield in later years.

Although Francis Calvin Howard was from the South and a slave owner, and understood the problems of the Southerners, he was opposed to the secession of the states and was a Union man. The Howards experienced the trials and hardships of the people generally in the area during the Civil War. The union and confederate armies were back and forth across the farm, and of course the guerillas were the worst. An Illinois company of the Union Army camped on the farm for part of one winter. The Battle of Wilson Creek was fought about three miles North of the Howard farm. The first memory that Jack Howard had was of hearing the guns at that battle. A sister of Francis Calvin Howard, Mrs. Joseph Sharpe and her husband, lived on the Wilson Creek battleground at the time of the battle.

The Howards as was true of most people were left with very little money and personal property after the Civil War. Francis Calvin Howard owned and operated the Jumbo Mill south of Boaz after the war. The first money that he did manage to accumulate was stolen from him at his home by armed robbers at night.

Andrew Jackson Howard, known all of his life as Jack Howard, was born on the farm, December 26, 1858. He was one of nine children. His mother died when he was five years old and he was raised by his older sisters. He acquired title to the principal part of the farm after his father’s death, being the land lying between the mouth of Wilson Creek and the Ozark and Mt. Vernon road. He graduated from the Marionville Collegiate Institute and attended the University of Missouri. When he went to the University, he did not know just where to go, so he went to the home of the president who started him in the school in a friendly and kindly manner.

Jack Howard taught school in Christian County for a number of years. One of the schools which he taught North of Nixa had an enrollment of over 100 and a regular attendance of over 80. That one teacher could control and teach that many students seems incredible. He had a reputation for getting his students interested in study and learning, and had a knack of maintaining strict discipline with little corporal punishment. Dr. Walter L. Howard, mentioned earlier, was one of his pupils at the Green Ridge School.

He served as surveyor of Christian County for one term. He received his instruction in surveying at the University of Missouri. He did an extensive amount of surveying and took pride in the accuracy of his surveys.

In 1889, Jack Howard helped organize the Bank of Billings and served as cashier until his death, June 22, 1950. In his 61 years as cashier he walked to and from work in all kinds of weather, did not miss a day on account of sickness until after he was 90 years of age, and took only two short vacations.

Jack Howard and Addie Manlove, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Manlove of Mt. Vernon, Missouri, were married in 1894. John Manlove served in an Indiana regiment in the Union Army during the full time of the Civil War. He was sheriff of Lawrence County for two terms. Mrs. Howard’s brother, Joe J. Manlove, served in congress for ten years.

Events of public interest continued to occur on and near the Howard farm over the years. A Post Office by the name of Delawaretown was established on (near) (location of the Post Office??) the farm in and continued as a Post Office until

The Delaware Bridge was constructed over the James River on the Ozark and Mt. Vernon road at the South boundary of the Howard farm shortly after the turn of the century. This was one of the most used bridges across the James River until the Highway 14 Bridge was constructed South thereof, after which the Delaware Bridge was discontinued.

In 1891, Jack Howard gave land on the West side of the river just above the Delaware Bridge for construction of the Delaware Chapel. The Delaware Chapel was an active church for many years. The Delaware Chapel was moved in 1935 across the river and to a hill on the Howard farm where the Delaware Cemetery is located. The land for the cemetery was given by Jack Howard in 1899. It has been a well kept and cared for cemetery over the years. Jack Howard had the graves of fourteen of his relatives, including his parents and grand-parents, moved to this cemetery from an uncared for cemetery.

After Jack Howard moved to Billings, he did not rent his farm, but employed men to live and work on it. He used the best farming methods to maintain and improve the fertility


of the soil. He was one of the first persons in the area to raise alfalfa. He kept a herd of registered Polled Shorthorn Cattle on the farm for over forty years. Good forestry practices have been followed and income has been realized from the sale of valuable matured walnut and white oak timber.

The principal part of the original Howard farm is now owned by Andrew Howard, a son of Jack Howard. Andrew, a graduate of Drury College and George Washington University, is a former prosecuting attorney of Christian County. He served for four years in the infantry during World War Two with ranks from private to captain. He is president of the Bank of Billings at the present time. Andrew’s wife is the former Rayo Butler, a member of another early pioneer family of Boaz, Missouri. Andrew and Rayo wrote a booklet entitled: "Around the World with the Andrew Howards", describing their trip around the world in 1967.

Mrs. Agnes Kerr Dennison owns and lives on part of the farm which was owned by her great-grandfather, Francis Calvin Howard, along with a large amount of additional land which her father acquired on Wilson Creek and James River above the farm now owned by Andrew Howard.

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