Biography of David Millington Howard

David Millington Howard. Rossville counts among its departed benefactors few who occupied a larger or more prominent place in the life of the community than did the late David Millington Howard. One of the leading farmers and stockmen of Shawnee County, to his study and investigation the agriculturists of this section are largely indebted for their knowledge of conditions and modern methods, and as a financier he was active in the promotion of some of the leading banking institutions of this part of the county. Moreover, he was a citizen of sterling character, whose influence for good was felt in whatever walk of life his activities were centered.

Mr. Howard was born on a farm near Shaftebury, Vermont, October 15, 1841, a son of Jared and Mary Ann (Matson) Howard, also natives of that place, where the father was born in 1800 and the mother in 1809. Jared Howard was a son of Otis and Polly (Millington) Howard, the former a native of Jamaica, Vermont, and the latter of Shaftsbury. Otis Howard fought as a soldier of the Continental army during the War of the American Revolution, and suffered all the privations and hardships which the patriots of the time often had to endure in that struggle, he and his comrades at one time being reduced to the flesh of dead horses for their food. His father and two brothers had emigrated to America prior to the Revolution from England. Otis Howard had a brother Jared and another named Enos J. The former’s daughter, Sylvia, became the mother of ex-President William Howard Taft. Otis and Polly (Millington) Howard were the parents of six children, namely: Jared, the father of David M. Howard; Jacob M., who was United States senator from Michigan during the Civil war; Otis, who spent his life and died on a farm near Racine, Wisconsin; Rebecca, who never married and died a wealthy woman in Michigan; Polly, who resided at Madison, Wisconsin, where she died; and Rachel, who died at Wyandotte, Kansas.

Jared Howard, the father of David M. Howard, was elected a member of the Vermont Legislature three times as a Democrat, and during the Civil war supported the Union. He married Mary Ann Matson at Shaftsbury, and they became the parents of eight children; Jacob M., a lifelong resident of Yates, New York; Otis, who spent most of his life in Vermont, but died at Rossville, Kansas; Solomon, who was three times elected to the Vermont Legislature as a democrat, and spent his entire life in that state; Jared, a citizen of high standing at Bennington, Vermont; David Millington; Mary, who married Cyrus W. Higginbotham, of Rossville, Kansas; Lurana, who married James K. Conley, of New York, and now a resident of Rossville; and Rachel M., who married Leander Mosley, of New York, and also resided at Rossville.

After a long and useful life in Vermont, Jared Howard moved with his family to Rossville, Kansas, in 1872, and bought a farm near the village, on which he died in 1874. He was a man of high ideals and of uncommon ability and education, and was thoroughly conversant with all the topics of the day. His wife survived him until 1884, when she, too, passed away at Rossville. She was a woman of refinement and education, and, like her husband, a wide reader. Jacob M. Howard, an uncle of David M. Howard, drew up the first republican platform, and was a member of the national convention at Chicago, to which he went as a Seward man, but from which he returned as a stanch supporter of Lincoln, whose close friend he was ever after, and with whom he was frequently called into consultation. He died at Detroit, Michigan.

David Millington Howard was reared as a farmer boy and secured his early education in the district schools of his native community, which he attended until reaching the age of seventeen years, at that time being sent to the academy at North Bennington, Vermont, to complete his training. As was customary in those days, frequent entertainments were given at the academy, in which the students participated. Not long after Mr. Howard’s arrival, such an entertainment was given, and, that no partiality might be apparent, he was invited to contribute to the program. To the surprise and no small amusement of both pupils and teachers, the rough country boy accepted the invitation and chose as his subject ” The Power of Eloquence.” Speculation was rife among the students as to how much ” eloquence” the country boy would produce, and still greater was the anticipation of the fun they were going to have at his expense. The appointed day came and ” The Power of Eloquence” was produced, but with a far different result than had been anticipated. When Mr. Howard concluded his oration, both teachers and fellow-stndents realized that the farmer boy’s ability and power of oratory far surpassed those of any member of the school, and instead of derision he received the deferential congratnlations of all who had heard him. Again the farmer boy scored when, at the close of his course at the academy, he excelled in scholarship, as he had in oratory. It was all the more to his credit that, while attending school, he also had heavy duties on the home farm, it being necessary for him to arise at 2 o’clock in the morning in order to get his chores done in time to go to school, as he had 200 head of sheep to feed, as well as other stock to take care of. He had one great advantage over his city schoolmates, however, in that he had his father, who had taught school for twenty years, as an able director and preceptor.

After completing his education, Mr. Howard engaged in teaching school for two years and on differant occasions proved himself the master of difficult situations. He then began his career as a farmer, and agricultural work continued to hold his attention during the remainder of his life. He accompanied his father to Kansas, and was married to Miss Chettie A. Stanley, of Shaftsbury, Vermont, who was born August 14, 1851, a danghter of Joseph and Jane (Fuller) Stanley, both natives of Shaftsbury. The father followed farming very successfully all of his life and died at Shaftsbury, while the mother spent her closing years at Rossville, with her daughter, Mrs. Howard.

Mr. Howard, as stated, made farming his principal pursuit. He was one of the first to successfully raise alfalfa in Kansas, and for a number of years made this his foremost crop. He made many experiments as to the best time for successful seeding and found from August 20th to September 20th to be the best time for the first seeding, and for dead spote in the spring from March 25th to May 25th. His home is located upon a fine 400-acre tract of Kaw bottom land, adjoining Rossville, and the house now located there was built in 1915, being a modern structure in every way, having its own electric lighting plant and all the conveniences of a town house. At one time Mr. Howard owned 1,280 acres of ranch land, but sold this and his stock one year before his death. He was a breeder of Durham cattle, Poland-China hoga, and Hambletonian horses, all of pedigreed stock; and in addition was an apiarist of something more than local note, handling Italian and Cyprian bees, the former of which he found the easier to handle, while the latter was the best worker. His widow only keeps a few bees at this time.

In addition to his farming interests, Mr. Howard had extensive financial holdings. He was one of the organizers of the Rossville State Bank, of which he was president at the time of his death, an institution that owed much to his wise and far-seeing judgment; and was a stockholder and director in the Silver Lake State Bank and the Delia State Bank. In politics he was a progressive democrat and took an active part in politics in Shawnee County, which he represented three times in the Kansas Legislature, first in 1891, again during Governor Llewellyn’s administration, when he was elected on the people’s tlcket, and the last time in 1908, when he was elected as an independent democrat. While not a member of any church, he was always a liberal contributor to church movements and the building of houses of worship, all of the churches of Rossville having received his material support. He was prominently affiliated with a number of fraternal orders, being a Knight Templar Mason and member of Rossville Lodge No. 111, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he filled all the chairs, and the Knights and Ladies of Security, in which he was president of Rossville Council No, 223 for eighteen years, or for longer period than any other member. A man of sterling integrity, Mr. Howard’s honest, upright life commanded the respect of all who knew him. Mr. Howard contracted pueumonia from exposure while engaged in the work of caring for his stock. This was in 1909, and he never entirely recovered from the disease, which no doubt eventually was the cause of his death. He passed away February 11, 1913.

Mrs. Howard, who survives him, is a thorough business woman, and is engaged in looking after the many investments which he made, being assisted by her nephew, S. H. Conley, in the conduet of the 400-acre farm, on which she lives surrounded by all the comforts of life.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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