History of Howard, NY
From: Landmarks of Steuben County, New York
Edited by: Hon. Harlo Hakes
Assisted By: L. C. Aldrich and Others
D. Mason & Company, Publishers,
Syracuse, New York, 1896

HOWARD. - On the 18th of June, in the year 1812, the towns of Bath and Dansville surrendered portions of their territory to a new formation called Howard. However, it was not long before the new creation was itself called upon to yield a part of its area to still later subdivisions, as it contributed to Avoca in 1843, and to Fremont in 1854. Thus remaining, and as at present constituted, Howard contains 34,900 acres of land, all devoted to the peaceful arts of agriculture and kindred pursuits. It is an interior town, lying west of the shire town, and its surface is chiefly a rolling upland, forming a part of the ridge which divides the Conhocton and Canisteo rivers. The streams are small, and in the northeast part are two small ponds.

The claim has been made by recent and reliable authorities that the first settler in this town was one Hovey, who made a clearing of a few acres and then abandoned the field. His improvement, it is also said, was taken in 1805 by Mr. Travis and his family, and the latter were in fact the pioneers of the town. However, other authorities assert that the pioneer was Abraham Johnson, who located in the vicinity of Towlesville in 1806. Charles McConnell was about the next settler, and located on what afterwards became known as the Alkali Bennett farm. At that time Asa McConnell, son of Charles, was only seven years old, and he grew up in the town and afterward rose by his own efforts to a position of importance in Hornellsville and the county; and his sons are among the foremost business men of that enterprising city.

From this time on settlement increased rapidly, and within the next few years there came and located in various parts of the town Samuel Baker, Reuben and Abram Smith, Joel and Abel Bullard, Daniel N. and Jacob Bennett. Job Rathbun, and his three brothers, all, it is believed, during the year 1809. In 1810 William Allen, John Hoagland, and Daniel Smith joined the settlement, and Israel Baldwin came in 1811. Russell Burlison came in 1812. In this year the town was set off and given a separate organization, at which time pioneership had virtually ceased. Still, among the prominent later comers were Jonas and Seth Rice, Benjamin, Thomas and Isaac Bennett, Jonathan Ketchum Hamilton Parkhill, John Stephenson, David Walker, Andrew Baker, George and James Stewart, Richard Towle, Reuben Hammond, Isaac Brasted, Joseph Lam, Oliver Parkhill, R. F. Ferris, Simeon Baker, David Rathbun, Jabes Beebe, and others perhaps equally worthy of mention, but whose names are lost with the lapse of years.

Jonathan Ketchum built the first framed hotel in the town, and soon afterward put up a small tannery. The first tavern was built of logs, by Isaac Bennett, and the second by Benjamin Bennett. Randall and Calvin Graves built the first store, and this was the only industry of its kind in Howard until Calvin Whitwood settled there, in 1831. He was succeeded by James and George Alley, and the latter became successful merchants and were also owners of a grist mill east of the village. They soon left the town and were succeeded by Aaron McConnell, also a successful merchant.

From what has been noted it will be seen that the lands of Howard were settled at a comparatively early day, and by a class of men who were in every sense thrifty and progressive. In this respect we make no new disclosure, for this town has always been noted for the substantial character of its men as well as its institutions. Occupying a somewhat remote locality from the established trading centers, and possessing no suitable facilities for manufacturing enterprises, the inhabitants of Howard have necessarily been farmers, and to this pursuit have bent their untiring energies; and today the result of early thrift and industry is apparent, for here are found some of the best farmers in Steuben county.

When set off in 1812 the population of the new district was hardly more than 300, and in 1814 the exact number of inhabitants was 366. In 1820 it was 1,140, and in 1830 was 2,464. Ten years later the maximum population was reached, being 3,247 in 1840, and 3,244 in 1850. In 1860 the number was 2,746, and 2,122 in 1870. The number in 1880 was 2,131, and in 1890 was 1,938. According to the count of 1892, Howard had 1,885 inhabitants.

The first town meeting in Howard was held in April, 1813, at the house of Simeon Bacon, at which time a complete board of officers was elected. However, the records of this town, previous to 1823, have been lost or destroyed, in consequence of which the list of first town officers cannot be furnished. The present officers (1895) are as follows: D. Ray Bennett, supervisor; Frank H. Sharp, town clerk; Joseph Miller, A. L. Cole and A H. Baldwin, justices of the peace; L. J. Franklin, Thomas Coots and James Crozier, assessors; A. W. Barton, collector; Calvin Bullock, highway commissioner; John A. Drake, overseer of the poor; Alexander McChesney, Martin Higgins and J. W. Carr, excise commissioners.

The supervisors of Howard since 1823, have been as follows: Israel Baldwin, 1823; Daniel N. Bennett, 1824-25; Wm. Goff, 1826-27; Green Hem, 1828-29; Daniel N. Bennett, 1830-31; H. N. Rathbun, 1832; John W. Whiting, 1833-34; William Goff, 1835-36; Issachar Goodrich, 1837; C. E. Belden, 1838-39; James Alley, 1840-42; Asa McConnell, 1843; John Hamilton, 1844-45; D. N. Bennett, 1846-47; Joseph I. Burnham, 1848; Ira Lane, 1849-50; Ansel House, 1851; Alkali Bennett, 1852-53; Ansel House, 1854; Moses S. Bennett, 1855-56; Alonzo Graves, 1857-58; Ansel House, 1859; Alkali Bennett, 1860-61; A. T. Parkhill, 1862-63; John F. Shaver, 1864; Alkali Bennett, 1865-66; A. M. Cole, 1867; Alkali Bennett, 1868; Aaron McConnell, 1869-71; John G. Sharp, 1872-73; Josiah House, 1874-75; J. C. Hoagland, 1876-77; George Bennett, 1878; William H. Willis, 1879-80; Andrew Sharp, 1881-82; O. F. Bennett, 1883-84; Alonzo Van Wie, 1885-57; A. U. Brown, 1885; R. F. Parkhill, 1889-91; E, L. Stewart, 1892-93; D. Ray Bennett, 1894-95.

Among the early residents in the east and southeast part of this town was a considerable colony of Irish Presbyterians; good, strong, earnest and active men and women, who have devoted themselves to agricultural pursuits, and many of whom have built up fine farms. This town and its people was peculiarly affected by the disturbances of the anti rent period, and, lying next west of the shire town of the county, there was perhaps a more active participation in public events than was shown in localities more remote. The delegates from Howard in the Bath convention were Daniel N. Bennett, who at the time was supervisor, Byram L. Harlow, William Goff, John D. Collier and Jacob G. Winne.

During the period of the war of 1861-65, this town raised for bounties, and for the purpose of recruiting troops for the service, a total of $3,021 72; and in addition to this the county raised, upon the credit of the town, the sum of $42,450. So near as can be ascertained the town furnished about 160 men for service during the war.

According to local tradition the first school in the town was opened about the year 1815 in the little log school house standing near the residence of Aaron McConnell. About the same time another school was started at Howard Flats, and still a third in Towlesville. About 1820 the town was first divided into districts and provision made for a school in each. In the principal village an academy was founded and built in 1835. It was an excellent institution, well equipped and supplied with an efficient corps of instructors. However worthy may have been this enterprise it finally met the fate that fell upon many similar schools and it was therefore discontinued.

As at present constituted Howard has seventeen school districts, each provided with a comfortable school house. The total value of school property in the town is estimated at $9,420. During the school year 1893-4, the town received of public moneys $2,081, and raised by local tax $1,929.58. Forty two trees were planted by pupils in 1894.


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