This is a north township of
Parke county, R. 6 W. of the 2d P. M., and 16 N. The
east and south boundaries are each six miles in length.
The northern boundary is three miles long. Fountain
county lies on the north, Montgomery on the east; on eh
south are situated Greene and Washington township. The
western boundary is very irregular; along this lie Sugar
Creek and Penn townships, the latter bounding only a spur,
one and a half miles wide, projecting from the southwest of
Howard township. On the west and south of Howard
township is some farming land as fine as there is in Parke
county. Along the Sugar creek, which flows southwest
through the township, the surface is very broken for some
distance away from its banks. The east and south of
the township is divided into large farms, which are well
improved. The hilly country contains, in lieu of good
farms, rich deposits of mineral wealth, sandstone of several
varieties, and limestone, all of which are well adapted for
building purposes. The soapstone beds are twenty feet
in thickness, and situated between two strata of sandstone.
From the outcroppings there is an abundance of coal in these
hills, and iron ire in large quantizes. These
indications are more flattering on the farm of Urial C.
Delp. There the iron ore is seen peering
from the hillsides wherever you look, and coal beds twelve
feet in thickness, of good quality.
Howard township up to 1855 formed a part of Sugar Creek
township. Before this several petitions had been
presented to the commissioners by the people on the west
side of the township for a division as it now is, but they
were refused acceptance. In 1855, through the energies
and wisdom of Col. Casper Budd, then trustee of Sugar
Creek township, these petitions were granted. The
territory set off was organized into a township, and
christened Howard by Col. Budd, in honor of Gen.
Howard, then one of Parke county's most prominent men.
The political history of this township to this time properly
belongs to Sugar Creek township.
settlers in what is now Howard township were Henry
Litsey, Samuel Snook and James Long. The
first settled in 1822, on Sugar creek; the second located in
1822, on Sec. 31; the third on Sec. 17, near the county
line, between Montgomery and Parke counties, perhaps at an
earlier date than either of the others. Thus was begun
the settlement of Howard township. In 1823 the stream
of immigration began pouring into this county from Kentucky
and North Carolina, rapidly swelling the number of settlers
already here. In 1830 there was but little land to be
entered. But little can be said of the earliest
settlers and others prior to 1830, other than that they were
a quiet, industrious people, at home upon such as they could
produce, making their clothing from flax of their own
raising, eating bread which they themselves had sown,
reaped, ground and baked "in the shade of their own vine and
fig tree." To this time they raised but little more
than they consumed. If they had it would have been
only adding surplus to surplus, that would supply them with
none of life's comforts beyond what they had, because
markets were too far away, and produce of too small a price
to pay the cost of transportation. In 1830 Salmon
Lusk bought and packed pork at the narrows of Sugar
creek. This furnished the people with a little money
for their surplus produce. At the same time and place
Prior Wright opened a store, which supplied them with
the necessities of life, so far as they were able to
purchase. With the surplus of a ten acre farm, when
pork was only $1.25 per hundred, calico 35 cents per yard,
salt $5 per barrel, they could buy but little.
The people who settled this township for the most part
were a church-going people, who were raised to respect
Christianity and moral teaching, and before they had been
settlers of this wilderness any great length of time they
began to think of meeting in religious worship. Their
first meetings were held at private residences, till they
erected suitable church-houses. The first building of
this kind was of logs, called McKenzie's Chapel, but
in 1833, on what is now the estate of William Bilbo,
by the Methodist Episcopal brethren, the prime leaders of
which were William Smith and William Bilbo.
The first minister who preached here was Samuel
Cooper The members of this society that are still
living in this township now belong at Waveland or Poplar
Ridge. The last church named is the second church
constituted in the township. This was built about
1835, by the New Lights. The building was of logs, and
was used for church purposes ten years, when they bought a
church - house of the Missionary Baptists. The
Methodist people, in 1850, erected a log building on Sec.
30. This becoming old, the two societies, New Lights
and Methodists, agreed to occupy the same building, the one
belonging to the New Lights. They moved the old
Baptist building from across the lien in Washington
township, to its present location, on Sec. 31, which, when
refitted, made them a very comfortable house, which they
still occupy. Both societies are in a flourishing
condition, and support a live Sunday-school.
The first school-houses of this township were built
about 1830. The number was three; one in the northern
part, on Sec. 16; the second in the southern part, on Sec.
31, and the third in the southeast part of the township.
These were rough log houses, fashioned after the usual style
of the school-houses of this time, with a big fireplace, one
or two windows, and poles on legs, with the tops flattened
for seats. But 1830 is past, and all of her pioneer
school-houses but the one built on Sec. 16; this stands, a
deserted, dilapidated structure, in the midst of six neat,
comfortable and well furnished school-houses, now in the
township, to indicate the progress made. The 16th
section, devoted to school purposes, was sold at a very
early period in the settlement for a small sum. It was
first leased to squatters.
The first settlers experienced much difficulty in
procuring breadstuffs. Prior to 1826 the nearest
points at which they could obtain this article were Alamo
and Roseville. In 1826 Salmon Lusk built a mill
at the narrows of Sugar creek, in Sugar Creek Township.
The first mill in the township was built by Urial Clore;
this he sold to Urial C. Delp in 1860, and bought it
back in 1880. The second was built by Blumens White
in 1853, and is now known as Scott's mill. The
last is in good running order, and is recognized as one of
the best watermills along the creek. The mills
mentioned, except the last, combine the two in one, a grist
and saw mill.
Through the long period of nearly sixty years the
health of Howard township has been good. No epidemics
have been present, and the people have been almost equally
fortunate in the way of accidents. The number killed
by accident is three. The first killed was James P.
Robinson. He failed to lock his wagon sufficient
while going down a hill on his way to Rockville. He
was thrown from the wagon, and his head, striking the hub of
the wheel, was crushed. The second was a lad,
William Montgomery, crushed by a beam while driving a
clover-huller into the barn at Jacob C. Banta's.
Since the separation of this township from Sugar Creek
township it has sustained a republican majority. Its
present population is 533. The present officers are
John N. McCampbell, Esq.; Barton Dooley, trustee.