CHARLES HOWARD, founder and president of the Howard & Poster Company, one of the largest and best known shoe manufacturing concerns in this Commonwealth, and an original promoter of the Brockton Agricultural Society, of which he is also president, is one of the foremost business men and citizens of Brockton, Plymouth Co., Mass., for over forty years continuously and prominently identified with the industrial and financial growth of that city. Mr. Howard was born Jan. 9, 1837, in North Bridgewater, now Brockton, eldest son of the late Charles and Lavina (Rounds) Howard, and a descendant of several of New England’s earliest settled families.
The Howard family is one of long and honorable standing in this Commonwealth, the name being variously spelled Haywood, Hayward and Howard, and these forms are often confounded, by many being pronounced alike. They seem to have been the same name originally, although for several generations many bearing the name have adopted the spelling Howard. The genealogy of the family here under consideration follows, the generations being given in chronological order from the first American ancestor of this branch of the family.
(I) William Hayward or Haywood was an early inhabitant of Charlestown, Mass., where he was a proprietor in 1637. He removed to Braintree, where he was deputy in 1641, and bought land in 1648. He signed his name “William Haywood” as witness to a deed of James Everill in 1654. He was drowned the 10th day of the 3d month, 1659. Administration was granted the 14th of June, 1659, to his widow Margery for herself and children. The widow died the 18th of the 5th month, 1676, and administration of her estate was granted the 1st of August, 1676, to her son Jonathan. The children were:
- Huldah, who married Ferdinando Thayer; and
(II) Jonathan Haywood, of Braintree, son of William, married May 6, 1663, Sarah Thayer, daughter of Richard Thayer, and their children were:
(2), Samuel (2), Benjamin and Sarah (3) Jonathan Haywood, the father, died Nov. 21, 1690, aged forty-nine years.
(III) Benjamin Haywood, of Braintree, married July 1, 1708, Mary Arnold, and their children of Braintree town record were:
- Benjamin, who died young;
- Benjamin (2);
- Huldah, and
(IV) Benjamin Howard (2), son of Benjamin and Mary, married Hannah French. According to his will he was a yeoman of Randolph, Mass. His children were:
- Ammi and
(V) Benjamin Howard (3), of Randolph, son of Benjamin (2), married July 7, 1764, Elizabeth Bird, of Stoughton, Massachusetts.
(VI) Asa Howard, son of Benjamin (3), was born in Randolph, Mass., Sept. 24, 1776, and in 1802 came to North Bridgewater, where he continued to follow his trade of blacksmith, his shop being an institution well known I among all the dwellers of the North parish, I located near the present site of the H. W. I Robinson Company’s store on Main street. He was a man who took an active interest in the affairs of the town, his name heading the list of 214 petitioners who applied to the General Court of the Commonwealth in 1819 “that the I said North parish may be set off from the town of Bridgewater, and incorporated into a separate town by the name of North Bridgewater.” This petition met with pronounced opposition, but finally passed both Houses, assembled June 15, 1821. Asa Howard married in 1797 Eunice Thayer, born Aug. 21, 1778, daughter of Isaac and Rachel (Sawin) Thayer, of Randolph, Mass. She descended from
- Richard Thayer of Braintree (a freeman in 1640) through
- Richard and Dorothy (Pray) Thayer,
- Nathaniel and Hannah (Hayden) Thayer,
- Zachariah and Elizabeth (Curtis) Thayer,
- Zachariah (2) and Lydia (Pray) Thayer and
- Isaac and Rachel (Sawin) Thayer.
To Mr. and Mrs. Asa Howard were born children as follows:
- Ephraim, born April 19, 1798, who married Lydia Cary and (second) Hannah Finney;
- Samuel, born July 12, 1800, who married Mary Carleton;
- Charles, born April 18, 1803, who married Lavina Pounds;
- Isaac, born May 7, 1805, who died in 1822, aged seventeen years;
- Mary Ann, born Feb. 24, 1808, who married William Faxon;
- Asa, Jr., born July 4, 1813, who died in October, 1814;
- Asa (2), born Aug. ’28, 1815, who died Sept. 10, 1817;
- Elizabeth Bird, born Feb. 22, 1818, who married Lewis Fisher, Jr.;
- Martha Jane, born June 10, 1820, who married David F. Studley. Asa Howard, the father, died Aug. 23, 1828, aged fifty-two years, less one month.
(VII) Charles Howard, son of Asa and Eunice (Thayer), was born April. 18, 1803, in North Bridgewater (now Brockton), and after attending the district schools of his native town entered the blacksmith shop of his father. Mr. Howard was long and prominently identified with the enterprises and the progress of the community. After leaving his father’s employ he learned the trade of machinist, and later, when the making of shoes began to be the leading industry of the town, he directed his energies and skill to the manufacture of shoe tools, being associated in the business at different times with his brother, Ephraim Howard, William Faxon, Lewis Fisher and Tyler Cobb. To facilitate the growing business which came to his hands Mr. Howard, when in company with his brother, introduced the first steam engine that was brought into the town, and set up in working order in one of Howard & Clark’s buildings, a portion of which they were then occupying. Later he formed a partnership with Lewis Fisher, under the firm name of Howard & Fisher, and for some years was engaged in the manufacture of shoe tools, such as hammers, presses, wheels, spoke-shaves, knives, punches, awls, etc. During the panic of 1857 this firm, like many others, experienced financial reverses in business that more than wrested from Mr. Howard all the accumulations of previous years of hard labor and energy, and at this time the invention of the sewing machine opening the way to a new industry – the manufacture of needles – which by the advice of friends he decided to enter into, with tools and appliances of a very primitive character, many of which he worked out and made with his own hands, he established himself in business as a needle manufacturer in a building at the corner of Ward and Montello streets, and continued as sole proprietor of the. business until 1869, when his sons, Charles and Henry H. Howard, became associated with him under the firm name of Charles Howard & Co. This business proved a marked success. During the first year the production amounted to about 75,000 needles, and the business steadily grew until the firm manufactured over 10,000,000 needles per year, employing about 125 hands, the annual value of the product exceeding $100,000. The excellence of the work he put into his needles at once won for them a favorable reception, and Mr. Howard was shortly crowded with orders for all that he could possibly make. By the aid of improved machinery, much of it of his own invention – for he was of an inventive turn of mind, with a natural love for mechanics, and other facilities which he was able to procure, his business rapidly increased, and by the time he admitted his sons to partnership, some years later, he was giving employment to a number of skilled workmen and supplying quite a number of the leading houses in this country with his production. To the subsequent growth and expansion of the business of which he was the founder, until it finally became the largest needle manufacturing company in this country, it is unnecessary to refer, much of the later growth of the business being doubtless due to the energy and high business character of his sons, but a reference to the success in life of Mr. Howard would not be complete without making prominent the fact that its foundation all the way through continued to be in the honest and thorough work that characterized all his productions. He could tolerate no shams; everything that went from his hands was as good as careful and skillful labor could possibly make it. Mr. Howard retired from active connection with the business in 1872, after having acquired a competency, and the business was then continued by his sons, Charles and Henry H., who retained, however, the firm name of Charles Howard & Co. They continued the business successfully for a number of years, when it was eventually sold to the National Needle Company, of Springfield, Massachusetts.
In political affiliations Mr. Howard was a Democrat of the old school, and his interest in town affairs was ever manifest. This was especially true in fire department matters, he being a member of the first engine company ever organized in the town, and he maintained a connection with the department for many years, holding for a time a position on the board of engineers, and also served for a number of years as chief of the department. The high esteem in which his memory was held among the firemen of later years was shown in the adoption of his name by the hook and ladder company at the center of the town. Mr. Howard, though never pushing himself forward into prominence, was always surrounded by many friends – he had no enemies – his geniai, smiling countenance was the index of a warm and affectionate nature, which reached out in many ways for the good of others, and attracted to him all with whom he came in contact. His sterling honesty and the record of an upright life are a rich heritage that he has left both to his family and to the people of the community in which his long and useful life was spent.
Mr. Howard was married July 6, 1828, to Lavina Rounds, of Rehoboth, daughter of John and Lavina (Horton) Rounds, and a member of the Rounds family that has been of record in Rehoboth, Mass., since 1702. Mr. and Mrs. Howard enjoyed a wedded life extending over a period of almost fifty-four years, broken then by Mr. Howard’s death. On July 6, 1878, they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, upon which occasion they were the recipients of many happy expressions of good cheer from their many friends and acquaintances. Mr. Howard died May 23, 1882, in the eightieth year of his age. Mrs. Howard died Jan. 11, 1901 – a devoted mother and a kind and considerate neighbor. Their children were:
- Lydia Williams, born Nov. 24, 1834, who married Feb. 12. 1864, George J. Crane, of Canton, Mass., and is now a widow, residing in Brockton;
- Charles, born Jan. 9, 1837, who married Maria Copeland;
- George Elmer, born Sept. 6, 1846, who died Oct. 2, 1847;
and Henry Herbert, born March 22, 1849, who is in charge of the shipping department of the Howard & Foster Company, of Brockton (he married Mary Agnes Magee).
(VIII) Charles Howard, son of the late Charles and Lavina (Rounds), was born Jan. 9, 1837, in North Bridgewater (now Brockton), and in the common schools of his native town acquired his early educational training. Leaving school at the age of about sixteen years, he like nearly every other boy of his day in the town started his career in the shoe industry, first entering the employ of Isaac Perkins, whose shoe factory was located on Court street, where he remained about one year. Then he entered the shoe factory of the late Noah Chessman, becoming foreman of the stitching department, in which capacity he remained until Mr. Chessman discontinued the business during the Civil war. Mr. Howard then accepted the position of foreman in the stitching department of the F. A. & H. B. Thayer shoe factory, which was then located on the south side of Centre street, continuing in that position until in 1869, in which year he and his brother Henry H. became partners of their father in the manufacture of needles, which business had been founded by his father, and which by this time had developed into a thriving industry. Upon Mr. Howard and his brother becoming identified with the needle business the firm name became Charles Howard & Co., and to the energy and business ability which Mr. Howard injected into the business was largely due the marked success which it attained during his connection with it. As stated above, this business developed to the extent that it eventually became one of the largest needle manufacturing concerns of its day. The father retiring from the business in 1872, the sons continued to conduct it successfully under the same firm name until 1887, in which year they sold out to the National Needle Company, of Springfield. Prior to this time Mr. Howard had become financially interested in the shoe manufacturing concern of H. H. Mitchell & Co., and after retiring from the needle manufacturing business, and upon the death of Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Howard took over the business of the firm, and in 1887 formed a partnership with Charles H. Foster, under the firm name of Howard & Foster, beginning the manufacture of shoes in the factory building at the corner of Ward and Montello streets, recently vacated by the needle business with which he had so long been connected. The firm of Howard & Foster continued the business at that location until the business had grown to such proportions that they were obliged to seek larger quarters, and in 1906, under the laws of the State of Massachusetts, the business was incorporated as the Howard & Foster Company, with a capital stock of $150,000. This enterprising firm then erected its present modern factory on Pleasant street, which is a five-story frame building, 45×340 feet, with a connecting L, containing 76,000 square feet of working space, together with an adjoining office building. This plant, which is up-to-date in all its appointments, and equipped with all the modern and latest improved machinery, automatic sprinklers, etc., is one of the most modern and best equipped shoe factory buildings in the city of Brockton, famed the world over as a shoe manufacturing center. Upon the incorporation of the Howard & Foster Company Mr. Howard became president of the same, in which capacity he has since continued, and the successful career which this concern has experienced and its rapid and steadily increasing growth are largely due to his thorough knowledge of the details of shoemaking as well as to his recognized energy and executive ability. The Howard & Foster Company gives employment to about six hundred skilled hands in the manufacture of their product, which bears an enviable reputation for individuality in quality, style and workmanship, and which is enjoying a steadily increasing sale throughout the country.
Mr. Howard is an active and prominent member of the Masonic organization, being one of the oldest Masons in the city, where he joined Paul Revere Lodge, A. F. & A. M., in 1863. He is also a member of Satucket Chapter, E. A. M.; Brockton Council, E. & S. M.; and Bay State Commandery, K.T., of Brockton. For a number of years Mr. Howard has been identified with the financial affairs of his native city, being a director of the Brockton National Bank. Socially he is an influential member of the Commercial Club, of the Merchants’ and Manufacturers’ Club, and the Brockton Shoe Manufacturers’ Association. Mr. Howard was one of the active promoters and original members of the Brockton Agricultural Society, and has since been prominently identified with the affairs of that Association, having served as a director since its incorporation in 1874, and after serving a number of years as vice president of the same was in 1908 elected president, to succeed the late Henry W. Robinson. The Brockton Fair, held annually by this Association, is one of the largest and best known fairs held in this country, and is attended each year by upward of two hundred thousand people. In political faith Mr. Howard in early life became affiliated with the Democratic party, continuing loyal to the principles of that party until the Presidential election of 1896, when owing to his firm faith in a sound money standard, he became a supporter of the principles of the Republican party, with independent tendencies in local politics. Although having always been deeply interested in the welfare of his native town he has never sought public office, preferring to devote his undivided attention to his extensive business interests.
On Nov. 27, 1860, Mr. Howard was united in marriage with Maria Copeland, a native of North Bridgewater, daughter of the late Ephraim and Hannah (Shaw) Copeland, of North Bridgewater, and to this union came one daughter, Mary Carleton, born April 2, 1862, who died April 23, 1879. Mrs. Howard died Dec. 3, 1911, aged seventy years, nine months, twenty-one days, and was interred in Union cemetery. She was a member of the Brockton Woman’s Club.
Mrs. Howard is also a descendant of several of New England’s earliest settled families, her line of descent from the first American ancestor of the Copelands,
- Lawrence Copeland (who married Lydia Townsend, and was of Braintree), being through
- William Copeland (who married Mary, daughter of John Bass),
- Jonathan Copeland (who married Betty, daughter of Thomas Snell, and settled in West Bridgewater),
- Jonathan Copeland (2) (who married Mehetabel, daughter of Samuel Dunbar),
- Caleb Copeland (who married Sally, daughter of Seth Byram) and
- Ephraim Copeland (who married Hannah, daughter of Micah Shaw, and settled in North Bridgewater).
Mr. Howard is benevolent and charitable, and his wife shared this disposition to such an extent that their pleasant home became an abiding place of hospitality. He attends the Church of the New Jerusalem, as did also Mrs. Howard, and liberally supports all worthy objects. Mr. Howard is an untiring worker, and anything which he undertakes he does with all his might and energy. He is of an analytical turn of mind, and is quick to see the result of a problem or proposition. He is a good judge of men and their qualifications, and this has enabled him to surround himself with an able corps of lieutenants. He is sound in judgment, firm in purpose, and determined in business, or whose high standing as a citizen, have been prominent factors in all his business connections. In private life Mr. Howard is modest and unostentatious, one whose success in business, or whose standing as a citizen, are not evidenced by the slightest outward show. He is courteous, easy-going, always with a pleasant smile, never passes an acquaintance without speaking, and yet never neglects the great volume of business which in his connection with the firm must pass through his hands. Though not a public man, being averse to holding office, he is ever ready to do good along the line of any worthy cause, either with his money or his personal labor; in fact, few men in the city today take as keen an interest in the city’s welfare as does he, and he never shrinks from his duty as a loyal citizen. A man of the strictest integrity, popular with his fellow men, and with ideal home surroundings, his married life covering a period of over fifty years of happiness, Charles Howard is indeed a credit to the community and to the old and honorable name he bears.