Oregon Pioneer Biographies



Charles Murphy Howard, the son of Edmond Howard and Edith Murphy, Charles was b. 3 March 1794, Sampson Co., NC. On 4 Nov. 1823 in Haywood Co., TN, he married Mary Hendrick 'Polly' Henderson, the daughter of John Henderson and Nancy Singleton, Mary was b. 23 June Garrard Co., KY.

Charles was a veteran of the War of 1812, having served with his Father Edmond Howard and his uncle Isaiah Howard in the First Regiment of Tennessee Mounted Gunmen. They fought at Pensacola, and at the Battle of New Orleans with General Andrew Jackson.

In 1831, Charles with his brother-in-law William Hendrick Henderson, heard of new land opening in Illinois, they investigated and found their Shangri-La. They selected home sites near three other families, the Davis, Pettegrew, and Hall families. These sites were in the north central portion of LaSalle Co., IL on Big Indian Creek. William and Charles returned to Tennessee to get the family. A good part of both the Howard and Henderson families of TN had move to the new land by the Spring of 1832.

With the group was Grandfather John Henderson, who as an Indian war veteran who had fought with Gen. 'Mad' Anthony Wayne in 1794, knew Indians. With trouble brewing with the Potawatomi Tribe, Grandfather Howard sensed danger and insisted on moving the family to the protection of Fort Ottawa located near by on the Fox River. After much dissension, he got his way and the family removed to the Fort. However the Davis, Pettegrew and Hall families refused to go. On the 21st day of May 1832 some of the family returned to tend the crops. Shabbona, the Indian chief who had befriended the Whites and who had tried to settle differences, warned them they were in danger, that an armed group of warriors were on the way. Our family finally believed him and returned to the fort. There were nineteen persons who refused to leave; the entire families previously mentioned and a hire man, Robert Norris. Within an hour, a band of about sixty warriors descended on the settlement. One Davis boy managed to hide in the brush and survived. Two of the Hall girls were kidnapped by the Indians, later to be ransomed by the Government. Of the other sixteen who had remained, all were killed. Thanks to Grandfather Henderson and Shabbona, none of the Howard or Hendersons were harmed except for the hired man, Robert Norris. Had they stayed at the settlement our family might have ended with the Blackhawk Indian War. Due to the Blackhawk War, most of the family returned to Tennessee.

By 1850, a number of the relatives including William Hendrick Henderson were living in Johnson Co., Iowa, so Charles Murphy Howard gathered up most of the family still remaining in Tennessee and brought them to Johnson Co. One of the reasons for this move, was that feelings concerning slavery were running high, particularly in that part of Tennessee where they were living. Charles was outspoken in his anti-slavery beliefs, and was beginning to have trouble with some of his neighbors --- it was time to move.

Charles finally settled in Marshall Co., Iowa where they remained until the spring of 1864. Charles and some others of the family, while anti-slavery, were southerners with many pro-southern feelings and had by now decided to move on west. That spring they put together what became known as the Howard Wagon train. It was made up of sixty-seven or possibly more closely related members of the family and four hired drivers. Charles Murphy Howard was captain of this group, but because of his age the actual authority may have rested with his son, William Henry Howard.

The Henderson branch of the family remained in Iowa and Illinois, some of the sons of William Henderson, Charles and Mary Howard's nephews, joined with the Union army. One nephew, Thomas Jefferson Henderson, served with the 112th Illinois and was brevetted Brigadier General. Three of his brothers were also with the Union. Three of Charles's nephews from the Kennedy branch of the family were split with one serving in the 7th Iowa Cavalry, while his two brothers joined the Confederate army.

The wagon train left Council Bluffs in early June 1864, the planned destination had been California but upon reaching Idaho Territory there were reports of drought in that state, whereupon the Howard wagon train began to disintegrate. Some continued to California, some went to eastern Oregon and Washington. Most traveled on to the Willamette Valley and had arrived in Portland on October 2, 1864.

Charles Murphy and his wife Mary Hendrick 'Henderson' Howard, settled near Sheridan, OR at a site called Gopher Valley, Charles died there 10 Aug. 1866. Charles Murphy's son James Lawrence Howard and family settled near by, as did Charles's son-in Law Pleasant Marion Scroggins, his wife Charles's daughter Sarah Elizabeth, and their five children. Pleasant Marion, 'P.M.', as he was known, became successful both as a farmer and later as a Banker in Sheridan, he operated a flour mill at Willamina and served as a commissioner for Yamhill County.

Mary Hendrick 'Polly' Henderson Howard, d. 19 Dec. 1879, Sheridan, OR and is buried next to Charles, and grand daughter Mary F. Scroggins, in the Pleasant Hill Pioneer Cemetery, near Balston, in Polk Co., OR.

Charles and Mary Howard's children were:


Submitted by Richard Smith --- GGG grandson of Charles Murphy and Mary 'Henderson' Howard.
June 6, 1998

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