JOSEPH AND ANN SHELTON HOWARD
Joseph Howard, a son of William Howard and Tamar Mills, was born November 12, 1819 at King’s Norton, near Birmingham, Staffordshire, England. His father was an English farmer and his children were brought up and taught the knowledge of farming. Each was given work to do and he did it, learning how to be useful and also helpful. Joseph had many tasks to perform as a child. He, while just a mere youth, became very expert in handling the scythe and later flailed. He had a hard boyhood, but the knowledge gained was very useful later in life. He was taught by example and precept, many truths and principles of honor and right living by his parents, who were God fearing and strict living people. A good foundation of character was laid for the building of a super structure when later he became a man.
He met Ann Shelton, who was clerking in a Grocery Store, where he went to make some purchases. He was attracted by her charming manner, beautiful blue eyes, glorious auburn hair, and physical beauty. She naturally had high thoughts and ideals, which the youthful Joseph was not slow to realize and take into calculations.
After a courtship of some length, this couple married in the St. Peter & St. Pauls Church, Aston, Warwickshire, England 24 Nov. 1842. They began a happy united life, locating on a five acre lot adjoining his father’s in Gravely Hills near Birmingham. From this union, 11 children were born:
Thomas Howard (b. 14 Sept. 1843) John Shelton Howard (b. 9 March 1854)
William Howard (b. 2 Nov. 1844) Samuel Shelton Howard (b. 16 June 1856)
James Howard (b. 29 Jan. 1846) Elizabeth Howard Dean, twin (b. 20 Feb. 1859)
Joseph Howard (b. 11 May 1849) Matilda Howard, twin (b. 20 Feb. 1859)
Mary Ann Howard Tolman (b. 11 March 1851) Tamar Howard (b. 13 June 1861)
Emily (Emma) Howard Corbridge (b. 31 July 1852)
All born at Aston, Warwickshire , England.
Joseph Howard was rather strict in his discipline and often found it necessary to correct and chastise the children.
He was naturally of a spiritual nature, reading the Bible and attending Bible classes, were always a pleasure to him. When the “Mormon” Elders came with the Gospel tract, it was like a message he had once known but forgotten. He was readily converted and also his wife, Ann, on November 27, 1851. They were baptized by Elder William Griffin, in a font constructed on his own farm. The font had steps leading down into the water, was fed by a spring, and beautifully surrounded with pussy willows. Immediately after his baptism, Joseph was ordained an Elder, by Charles Jones. Later he was appointed President of the Allison Street Branch, meetings being held in an upstairs room. Many times because of singing, undesirable people, especially men, congregated on the stairs causing a disturbance and Joseph Howard being a strong man, a real husky fellow, was obligated to throw them down the stairs. The membership of the branch grew, despite the opposition that raged, until it was necessary to get larger quarters. The Hockley Chapel was leased for 99 years. The very day Joseph completed the details of leasing the chapel, he took a short cut home across land where new houses were being built. Some ruffians were hiding behind these houses. When the President of the Hockley Branch (Joseph Howard) came along, they suddenly attacked him from behind. They beat him unmercifully, knocking some parcels he was carrying all over the ground, himself being tramped in the dirt. As fast as he tried to arise, he was again knocked to the ground until he was almost unconscious. “Take that you ‘Bloody Mormon!’ and many such statements were hurled from these attackers. His frock coat was torn and the tails entirely off, his silk hat all battered in and his face cut and bleeding. Even a neighbor refused to help the poor man in his plight so he was forced to proceed, staggering on to his home. For months after, he was accompanied home with some of the Saints.
Joseph owned a coal yard and because he was a Mormon, people quit buying from him and he had to sell it and had to farm for a living.
He presided over the Hockley Branch until his departure to America, which was ten or eleven years. His work in this capacity took him from his home most every night and much of his time in the day. As Branch President he became the protector of a young single girl (Mary Lowe) who joined the Church and lost her job as a result of her action. She and Joseph’s son Thomas became very close friends. His two oldest sons Thomas and William sailed from Liverpool, April 23, 1861 for America and Utah to make enough money to bring the rest of the family to Zion. Thomas left his sweetheart Mary Lowe to come with his family as she was the only one of her family to join the Church.
The following is a letter written by Joseph Howard and Ann Shelton Howard to their sons who had emigrated to America:
“February 20, 1862
My Dear Boys:
We received your welcome letter, which gave great relief to my feelings for I had looked for the postman till I was tired. Thankful that you were in good health. My dear lads, it is too late this season to make any arrangements for us to come. You try all you can and we will do the same again another spring and if you cannot do it of yourselves, ask your Master if he will supply you and I will recompense him for anything he requires of me. Long to see you again; make yourselves as happy as you possibly can and the time will soon roll around and we shall be better prepared another spring.
My dear boys, when you write again tell us whether you are living together or not and who the man is that you are at work for and what you are at work at and whether you are having that and your keep and send us word how poor Bill’s feet stood the plains and whether you kept all your things safe and how brother Crosby’s (Frisby’s) tinware answered as the water vessel and who amongst our old friends comforted you when you got in.
My dear boys, when you get this, write as soon as you can for fear the letter should be lost and when you have got enough of anything from your labors make some arrangements with the Bishop and he will make some with President Young and forward a note to the office at Liverpool for our deliverance. Mary Lowe will come with us and I dare say, Sister Jones. We were not much surprised to hear that you were not at work for Bro. Andrus, for Bro. Lines sent us a little news from Florence, but we did not know the cause; neither him or Samuel Westen has not written yet and if you know anything about them you must send us word and tell them to write to their parents. Tell Samuel to direct for Edwards wire.
Well, lately, my dear boys, ever since you left England, we have had hard work to struggle along. The work was so short all the time. James is at work at Mr. Wells, getting twelve shillings a week and Joseph is getting four shillings and I get what I can catch and we have not been able to save any for emigration yet, but I hope it will be a little more favorable another year. Your brother Jim was not very well the first two or three months after you were gone away, till he found another companion. He has grown very tall since you went, but very thin.
My dear boys, above all things live your religion, obey those that are placed over you and make all the improvements you can in your education. Tell Bill he has wrote the letter very well, only not hardly enough of it. We have had one letter from your Uncle Isom and he said that our Tom was driving the team for the same wagon that Mary was. Give our love to William and his wife and Mary. Remember me to Bro. Budge P. Page, Richard Jones, Bushy Payne, William Drakeford and old friend Griffin. Tell him I shall be glad to shake hands with him. Sister Williams is in a low condition. Martha was just going to Aldershot to Benjamins.
My dear boys, we have left Hope cottage, the rent was more than we can pay. We are living by Mr. Lewis’ Coal Yard. We would gladly pay the postage of this letter but we are afraid it would not come safe. Be sure and write soon and tell us all you want. Don’t be afraid, you are never forgotten neither night or morning in our prayers nor any time in the day. Be good lads and do your duty and God will prosper you direct. A note is inside for Thomas.
From your affectionate Father, Mother. Joseph Howard.
Thimble Mill-Lane Nechells
New Birmingham, Old England”
Joseph soon after changed his occupation, selling his five acres and going to work at Webb’s Smelting and Refining Works. This work was very hard and only a strong man such as he could have stood it. He worked here until June 1864 when he, his wife, and family including Mary Lowe all left for Zion. It was a great strain for Ann to get all in readiness for the journey. They sailed on the ship “Hudson” June 3, 1864 and arrived in New York City, July 19, 1864 spending a month and sixteen days on the water. Many were sea sick and in a weakened condition when they landed and were not fit for the journey ahead of them. They took the boat from New York and came round by way of New Orleans up the Mississippi River and landed at St. Joseph. The boat was used to transport cattle and had not been cleaned. In any event they landed at St. Joseph, Missouri on Aug. 2, 1864.
From a little place called Wymore, in the state of Nebraska, on August 2nd 1864 they began their journey westward across the great plains, with ox teams. Although their passage was paid, so many passengers with belongings made it difficult to ride and hence most of the journey was made by foot. The company started with 179 teams. Joseph and his son James were sick all through the journey from New York. They were crowded in a little steamer which was used to transport cattle, and had never been cleaned and there was no place to sit or lie down. However the journey was commenced and they started westward with strong spirits although weakened bodies, James and Joseph J. hired out to a freight train and while it was a help financially, it was a great trial to their mother to see them go. She had so many worries but now they must have stockings and underwear because they would not have a mother’s care.
On the way, the weather was hot and scarcely water to even drink. Upon arriving at a small creek Joseph could hardly walk, but although warned not to drink of the creek water, crept on his hands and knees and drank long and deep of the perhaps germ-infested water. It, however, did not seem to hurt him for he grew better in his health and strength. But a new trouble arose. The girls became sick with what was called “mountain fever” and before the Company arrived at the South Platte River, Tamar, the baby three years old, died and a burial had to take place. After crossing the river and journeying about two weeks, Matilda, twin sister of Elizabeth, died at the age of six years. All this told heavily on the mother. She had to part with her two sons, not knowing whether or not she would see them again. Then being forced to lay her darling baby, Tamar, in a desert grave with no accommodations was, to say the least, distracting. But she realized she must continue. The crowning trouble came to her when she must say “good-bye” to her lovely six year old Matilda, and leave her in a nameless grave. No wonder she grew weaker and exhausted in both mind and spirit. Comforts and conveniences were entirely out of the question.
She grew steadily weaker and hardly able to take a step farther. She walked until she would have fallen when Joseph asked that she might ride, this favor had been asked before but it was refused. Now Joseph asked again and when he received the expected refusal he explained how ill his wife was and after much persuasion Ann was allowed ride. When she was placed in the wagon scarcely a spot could be found for her to rest her weary body and aching bones. Emma, her daughter rode to care for her mother. As this daughter held the head of her mother in her lap, she noticed a growing weakness. Night approached, and it being her last, was memorable. Morning came, the journey must be resumed. Just as the oxen were being yoked and things made ready for the journey, the patient, wonderful, self-sacrificing mother, Ann Howard, departed on her last journey. The whole Company could not be detained long, so hurriedly the body was prepared for burial. Emma washed and combed her mother’s hair. She knew best how it should be done. Nor wonderful casket, no beautiful flowers, no organ playing, no choir singing, but quietly she was wrapped in two sheets and placed in a hurriedly-made and very shallow grave at Bitter Creek. (Bitter Creek runs parallel to the Overland Emigrant Road in Sweetwater County, Wyoming. Bitter Creek is mentioned in Pioneer journals as being between LaClede Stage Station and Black Butte. The present day Bitter Creek, Wyoming is a railroad town and some distance from the Overland Emigrant Trail.) Sage brush was piled upon the grave to act as a shield and protection from the wolves. And after leaving the unmarked grave and again journeying westward, there could be heard the sound of howling wolves from the direction they had come. But Ann Howard had gone on to join the two darlings who had preceded her and making a place of welcome to those who should come one by one in the future.
The journey proceeded, each day bringing its problems and each night nearer the goal. They arrived at Pioneer Park, October 26, 1864 in the William Hyde ox train where Thomas and William welcomed them and took care of their immediate needs and wants. The boys had heard that their father had died and were quite surprised to see him standing so erect and strong. But who can tell their terrible feelings when they knew they would never see that wonderful mother of theirs again in this life.
The family moved to the W.S. Muir farm at West Bountiful, Utah, where they resided about seven years. Then Joseph Howard homesteaded in what is called the Upper Flat, his son Thomas living just north of him.
The Joseph Howard family brought the first irrigation water into the area from North Canyon and the first to start irrigation there.
They made butter and gave to the “Immigration Fund” which they would wrap with grape leaves and walk some 5 miles into town and it kept very well this way.
Joseph Howard married Caroline Woodall, in 1866, who proved a good help mate. Rather rigid in her training of the children, but a warm heart, she saw them grow into manhood and womanhood and marry and move into homes of their own.
Joseph Howard was President of a Branch, Presiding Elder, Sunday School Superintendent, High Priest, School Trustee, and Ward Teacher. He was ordained a Priest 4 April 1852 (Sunday) in England. He was ordained an Elder 1 March 1857 (Sunday) by Charles Jones in England. He was ordained a High Priest 29 July 1883 (Sunday) by Thomas S. Smith in Bountiful, Utah.
Joseph Howard died 17 Oct. 1896 at his home on Upper Flat and was buried in the Bountiful Cemetary. Had he lived a little over a week longer it would have been 32 years since their arrival in Salt Lake City.
What a happy reunion there must have been on that day, 17 Oct. 1896. Ann Shelton and Joseph Howard, after all their cares and worries, never more to part, united by the Holy Priesthood in the Temple of God, their future is sure in its security. What a heritage to leave to the House of Howard descendants!
Gird up your loins, fresh courage take;
Our God will never us forsake,
Do this and joy, your hearts will swell.
All is well, all is well.