It was almost five years ago – 31 May, 2015 – that long-time Whitney resident Naomi Howard McCafferty passed away at age 90. Her husband, Jim McCafferty, died in 2012.
Naomi was the granddaughter of Dawes County pioneer John F. Howard and his wife Elizabeth.
|Howard family marker - Whitney Cemetery|
According to a Howard family profile that was written by Naomi for the 1985 book, Dawes County Nebraska – The First 100 Years – John Howard first came to Dawes County in 1885. He "batched" it before bringing his family to the area south of Whitney two years later.
It was there that John established a successful farming operation and raised his family. His son William would later take over the place, marrying local school teacher Irene Goodell. The Howard family donated a parcel of land to Whitney for a cemetery. Mother Elizabeth Howard died in 1905 and was the first person to be buried in the new cemetery.
In March of 1925, John Howard died. Five months later, his granddaughter Naomi Joyce was born to "Will" and Irene Howard and was their only child.
What follows is a biographical sketch of John F. Howard as it appeared in the 1909 publication Compendium of History, Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska.
JOHN FLANNERY HOWARD
John F. Howard, residing in Whitney, Dawes county, is one of the oldest settlers in western Nebraska, and by his efforts he has aided materially in the development of the agricultural and commercial resources of his county. Mr. Howard is a gentleman of most estimable character, highly respected in the community and one of the leading old-timers of the section.
Mr. Howard was born in Clark county, Missouri, in December, 1839. His father, Isaac Howard, was of old American stock, born and raised in Virginia, who married Miss Elizabeth Morris, of Kentucky, the latter dying April 7, 1907, at the advanced age of eighty-nine years and five months. At this writing the father is still living in Iowa and is ninety years old. Our subject's grandfather and great-grandfather were also American born, the latter serving in the Revolutionary War.
When our subject was twelve years of age the family moved to Iowa, where he grew to manhood on a farm, helping his parents in all the hard work of building up a farm and home in a new country, and attending the country schools where he received his early education, later attending college at Birmingham, Iowa. Our subject enlisted in Company H, Third Iowa Cavalry, August 15, 1861, served during the war. being first mustered out January 1, 1864, and then re-entering the service was finally mustered out August 9, 1865.
Mr. Howard, was truly a war veteran, seeing service though Georgia and Alabama and all through the south and west. He started farming in Iowa in 1866 and remained there up to 1885, then came to Dawes county, filing on a homestead in section 1, township 32, range 51. At that time the railroad was only laid as far as Chadron. He spent three years here, starting his farm, and "batching it," part of the time working at the carpenter's trade, his first house being a plank shanty 12 x 14 in size and lived in this shack for two years, then his family joined him here and they built up a good home and farm.
In Iowa Mr. Howard was a pioneer and handled ox teams, leading a regular frontierman's (sic) life, then came to Nebraska and went through the same experiences, so that nearly his entire lifetime has been spent in building up a new country. In Iowa he lived in different counties, - Van Buren, Madison and Warren county.
After coming to Nebraska he met with failures of crops, caused by drouths, and had many discouragements, but has succeeded in accumulating a nice property, and owns one thousand two hundred acres of land, which includes a son's homestead. He cultivates sixty acres, and has a seventy-acre field of alfalfa, engaging quite extensively in stock raising, running seventy head of cattle and fourteen horses. His place is well improved with good buildings, fences, etc., and he has plenty of timber, water and fruit.
Mr. Howard is now serving as assessor for his district. He has been justice of the peace for several years, also on the school board for sixteen years, and was one of the organizers of different schools in his section. He is a strong Republican.
Mr. Howard was united in marriage in Iowa in 1867, to Miss Elizabeth Moore, daughter of Littleton L. Moore, a retired farmer and old settler in Van Buren county. Mrs. Howard was born in Ohio in 1845, and she died in Dawes county May 28. 1905. leaving a family of seven children, named as follows: Walter C., Minnie M., Lula M., Arthur E., Earl V., William N., and Mabel (deceased).
(NOTE: Thanks to Jim Sheaffer of Chadron for the photograph of the Howard family marker located in the Whitney Cemetery – and for the thousands of other photos he has provided over the years to the Nebraska Gravestone Photo Project, now containing more than 326,000 images!)