This is the fifth in a series of biographical sketches written or edited by Thomas M. Dunshee between 1903, when he collected the material, and 1910, when he finished entering the sketches in a small blue "tablet" notebook now in the Lucas County Historical Society collection. The subjects all were fellow pioneers in the Newbern neighborhood of English Township, Lucas County.
"By Mrs. Moon"
Dated December 1903
Joseph Howard was born in Tennessee March 9, 1796. His father, Abraham Howard, was a Virginian of English descent. His mother, whose maiden name was Stuart, was of Scotch-Irish descent.
At the age of thirteen years in 1809, Joseph's mother moved to Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois, thirty-four miles east of St. Louis, where they lived until young Howard was seventeen years of age (Abraham Howard reportedly died before his son was born.), when he enlisted in the War of 1812 with what was called the Illinois Rangers. For two years he was kept busy with his regiment, guarding the settlers from the Indians, and on duty in some of the frontier posts. He came to Iowa for the first time in 1813 during an expedition sent up the Mississippi River against the Indians, which went as far north as Rock Island. He said then, if Iowa was ever purchased of the Indians by the Government and came to settlement he would go there. His regiment saw good service, had a number of engagements with the Indians.
After his two years were up he returned home and again engaged in farming and by industry and frugality saved money enough to buy a piece of land, which he proceeded to imporve.
The eighteenth day of March 1819 he was married to Jennie McLilly of Edwardsville. Her parents formerly came from South Carolina where she was born the fourth of February 1801. In 1805 they emigrated to Springfield, Tennessee, where they lived until the year 1817 when they came to Edwardsville. Here they lived for perhaps a dozen years.
In 1828 he was converted and joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He entered the Ministry at thirty-two years of age and from that time until 1860 engaged actively in the duties of a minister of the Gospel.
Uncle Jody Howard as he was familiarly known to many of the early settlers of Lee and Lucas Counties, moved to Lee County, Iowa, in the spring of 1835. Here he purchased 320 acres of land eight miles north of West Point. Here he lived for fifteen years. There were but few settlers and plenty of Idians. Keokuk was a little trading post with a few log cabins.
In 1850, Mr. Howard sold his farm and in October they emigrated to Warren County, Iowa, and settled in Whitebreast Township. Here he bought and entered at different times in Warren and Lucas Counties 1,200 acres of land. In February 1852, he purchased 120 acres of Government land in section six lying west of what afterwards became the town of Newbern. He improved and built for himself a home where he spent the remaining years of his life.
He died the second of February 1875. On account of failing health he did not preach regularly from 1860 until his death.
The town of Newbern was laid out by Ranson Davis in 1851, he building the first house. Mr. Howard kept the first post office just across the county line in Lucas County. There were no churches or school houses in the community and but four cabins between Knoxville and Newbern and one between Newbern and Chariton. He was one of the prominent figures in the little town just started.
Mr. and Mrs. Howard had twelve children born to them, seven boys and five girls, Abram, Samuel, Johnson, John T. Elizabeth O., Mary Angeline, William B. Joseph S. James B., Nancy J., Finis A. and Martha M.
Joseph Howard is buried in the Newbern Cemetery. This photograph of his tombstone is taken from the Web site Find A Grave.