Thomas Howard



Thomas Howard






This publication exercises one of its most consistent and important functions when it enters memorial tribute to such honored and resourceful pioneers as the late Thomas Howard, who came to Hamilton county, Nebraska, about four years after the admission of the state to the Union, proved well his powers of mind and body in coping with the conditions and influences that marked the early period in the history of this now opulent commonwealth. He was one of the venerable pioneer citizens of this section of the state at the time of his death, which occurred at his home in the village of Giltner, on the 28th of December, 1920, his birth having occurred in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, April 8, 1837. Mr. Howard was reared in the old Keystone state, where he received the advantages of the common schools of the period and his earlier pioneer experience was gained in the state of Wisconsin, where he was residing at the outbreak of the Civil war. His youthful patriotism was shown by his prompt enlistment in response to President Lincolnís first call for volunteers. At Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, he enlisted as a private in Company H, Seventh Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and the history of this gallant command represents virtually the record of his career as a soldier of the Union, for with it he served during practically the entire period of the war. He participated in twenty-seven battles, a number of them of major importance, including Bull Run and Gettysburg. He was three times wounded, but was not long incapacitated for service. After receiving his honorable discharge at the; close of the war, Mr. Howard returned to Wisconsin and there gave his attention to farm enterprise until 1871, when, with team and covered wagon, he and his wife set out for the new state of Nebraska. They brought with them about sixty head of horses and cattle and six weeks elapsed before they reached their destination in Hamilton county. Here Mr. Howard entered claim to a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres in Union township and the original domicile which he provided was a. small shanty, with dirt roof and floor, a sod addition having later added to the accommodations of the primitive dwelling, the first stable also having been of sod construction. Sutton and Lincoln were Mr. Howardís principal trading points in the early days and he did much to provide the family larder by his prowess with the rifle, with which he killed antelopes, deer and wild turkeys and participated in two or three buffalo hunts. He was out-of-doors during much of the historic Easter blizzard, as he found it necessary to keep careful watch of his live stock and during the three days that the storm prevailed the family depended upon melted snow for

water, as it was impossible to use the well on the place. The usual experience of the pioneers in connection with loss through droughts and grasshoppers fell to the lot of Mr. Howard, and on one occasion not only all vegetation on the Howard farm was destroyed by the grasshoppers, but the granary was literally covered with the insects. Mr. Howard and his wife did not falter in faith or courage under adverse conditions and their persistency was rewarded with the substantial prosperity which eventually came to them in connection with farm industry in the state of their adoption.

In Wisconsin was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Howard to Miss Elizabeth Cutts, who was born in St. Lawrence county, New York, and concerning whose family history adequate record appears elsewhere in this work, in the personal sketch of her brother, Edward Cutts. Mr. Howard continued in active supervision of his fine farm until 1906, when he and his wife established their home at Giltner, where he passed the remainder of his life. Of their ten children the eldest is Laura, who is the wife of Henry Gimple, a farmer in Hamilton county; Russell now owns and has charge of his fatherís old home farm; Alice, Alva, Margaret, George, Scott, May, Eva and Bertha are all deceased. Mrs. Howard endured the trials and hardships of the pioneer days but in the gracious twilight of life she is surrounded by friends Who are tried and true, is enjoying peace and prosperity and finds that in her widowhood there is a generous measure of consolation and compensation granted to her in the community in which she is known and honored as a true pioneer woman.

Mr. Howard took lively and helpful interest in community affairs, was a stanch republican, was affiliated with the Grand Army of the Republic and was an earnest member of the Presbyterian church, as is also his widow. 

History of Hamilton and Clay Counties, Nebraska Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1921, pages 189-190




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