Historical Details

Howard, Harry D. Family

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 12/15/2020


by. Edna  Howard DeCastro

During the 1890's Harry Howard made several trips to Manville, Wyo., accompanied by his older brother Fred, with horse and buggy from their home in Tobias, Nebr. They had an older sister, Jennie Howard Baughn (Mrs. E.B. Baughn) living in Manville, whom they visited. The country and its people so appealed to Harry that when he was married in September, 1901, he and his bride, Neletta Pettet Howard, came to Lusk to live.

Neletta was from Englewood, Ill., a graduate of the University of Chicago, class of 1898, who came to Tobias to teach school and boarded in the Bradford Howard home, parents of Harry.

Their first home in Lusk was in the William Sargeant house, later known as the Fowler residence, and which was torn down in 1965-66 to make room for the present Mountain Bell Telephone building. Harry worked as a tinsmith for Mr. Sargeant in the building now known as the Silver Dollar Bar.

Before long they moved into a building on Main Street in the spot now occupied by the Coffee Cup Cafe, where they had a store in the front and living quarters in the back rooms. This was more of a confectionery and home bakery than a general merchandise. In one corner Harry set up his jewelery bench where he did watch repairing.

Harry also gave music lessons to a number of young people in the town, as he did in his bachelor days whenever he was in the area. While here, one son, Ransom, was born in August of 1902. He died in Casper, Oct. 1923 as a result of asphyxiation from an inadequately vented heating system where he was rooming.

It was not until 1918 after a move back to Fairfield, Nebr., in 1904 and thence to Atkinson in 1911 that they returned to Wyoming, this time to Manville where they resided until their deaths. Manville was booming as a result of oil drilling in the Lance Creek field and Ransom, not yet 16, who had preceded the rest of the family to Manville was already employed as a truck driver, hauling pipe and other large equip­ment and supplies from Manville and Lusk to Lance Creek.

Ransom returned to Nebraska long enough to help the family move. Atkinson property was sold, furniture and household items were shipped by train, and the personal things were packed into two automobiles, a 1916 Hupmobile and a 1917 Overland touring car, and a sheepwagon which was drawn by a team of horses appropriately called Ginger and Snap; one was white and one was black, a beautiful team.

Harry's bachelor brother Fred, and Harry's second son Robert drove the team which gradually fell behind the automobiles and took a few more days enroute. Ransom and another son Ross came in the Hupmobile; Harry and one daughter, Edna, were the · occupants of the Overland. A trip that today is made by car in an afternoon took several days over unmarked dirt roads.

Neletta and the two youngest daughters, Erma and Emma had gone to Chicago by train for a visit with friends and relatives before joining the family in Manville. One son Ralph, who had died the year before as the result of a car accident, had been buried in Atkinson and was the last remain­ing link with the town except for acquaintences; otherwise our association with Nebraska was almost completely severed.

 Half way between Lusk and Manville Harry pointed out the Manville water tower which still looms above the horizon and as though he had found the promised land announced, "There it is; there's Manville". He had arrived.

At first Harry, Fred and Robert built a 16' x 16' house in which we all lived, using the sheep wagon for an extra bedroom for the boys. In 1919 construction was begun on the big house which was home for the next 50 years and which is still home for Emma.

Harry established a jewelry and watch repair business and at various times through the years occupied three different buildings on Main Street, one of which was what is now the post office. The place he occupied last was one block north of the post office and has since been torn down. He worked at this trade until two weeks before his death in 1965 at the age of 90 years and 7 months.

One of Harry's hobbies was checkers and he rarely could find anyone who could give him adequate competition in this game.

After the family attained some maturity Neletta resumed her school teaching during the 20's, being especially qualified and in demand as a Latin and English teacher.

During the flu epidemic of 1918-19 she helped care for many patients. It was a bad time for everyone; those who were not sick with influenza worked hard at caring for those who were. It has always seemed strange, but it was true that none of our family contacted the disease.

In 1924 Neletta became postmistress, a position she held until her retirement in 1948. Since the post office required a full days service, she established a variety store in the same building which for many years supplied the townspeople with articles which could not be purchased elsewhere in the town.

Various members of the family were active in the church either as Sunday school teachers or pianists and it is quite likely the church doors would have closed had it not been for the faithfulness of Neletta particularly, who not only gave of herself but also of her substance. She was a good steward. Harry in his younger days trained and conducted choirs, and the whole family enjoyed music together. Neletta was a faithful member of the Mariposa Chapter of Eastern Star until its abolishment after most of its members moved away or died.

She served in various capacities in this lodge including that of Worthy Matron.

After Harry's death in August of 1964 Neletta disposed of the merchandise in her store, which she had maintained even after retiring from the post office, and occupied her time in her home with Emma making quilts and knitting. Some of her handiwork of previous years included beautifully crochet­ed table cloths, some of which won prizes at the County and State Fairs.

At this writing, May 1971, Emma is the only family member living in Manville. Edna married in 1930 Ab DeCastro (member of another pioneer family), and lives in Lusk. Robert resides in Redlands, Calif. Ross and his wife Edith Keimig (long time family residents of Jay Em and Torrington vicinity}, as well as some of their child­ren live in Cheyenne. Erma, married to Murrin Keenan (pioneer family of southeast Wyoming). make their home in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming.

There are presently 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Neletta died in March 1970 at age of 95 years 3 months in Cheyenne as the result of a stroke, but until this confinement of five weeks_ duration, she remained compar­atively active and exceedingly alert mental­ly in spite of having suffered two broken hips while in her 90's.

With her passing, the mantle of responsibility fell upon the shoulders of the next generation who, although past middle age, suddenly felt humbled by the challenge of measuring up to the standards set by a great lady, our mother, and a fine gentleman, our father.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Howard, Neletta (12/14/1874 - 03/27/1970) View Record
Obituary Howard, Harry (12/31/1873 - 08/26/1964) View Record