The Pioneer Story of
William Wesley Howe and his Family
Written by: Mrs. Archie (Stella Howe) Stetler abt 1976 Submitted by Marvell (Morton) Mitchell
Standing: Nora Miley Howe (Mrs. Stephen Defrience Dull), Cora Miley Howe (Mrs. Emerson Ethridge Oaks), Gilbert
Howe Seated: William Wesley Howe, Virginia Catherine "Jennie" Huckaby Howe, Dora Celia Howe (Mrs. Fred
R. Morton), Stella Virginia Howe (Mrs. Archie Stetler), Grace Agnes Howe Hensley and George Benjamin Hensley who
is holding their daughter Inez Virginia Hensley (Mrs. Ernest Ray McInnes). Grace married Peter Ray McInnes, widower
with 6 children after the death of George Benjamin Hensley. Inez married her step brother.
Picture submitted by Marca Lee (McInnes) Murray
My father, William Welsey Howe; grandfather, Charles Bryant Howe; uncles, Dick (Joseph
Richard) Howe and Jim A. Wallace, and three bachelor friends, Louis Thorpe, Billy Brown, and Al Extine, made the
run for free homes April 22, 1889. They had left Kansas two or three years before and were living in "No
Man's Land," now Beaver county. While there they learned that this part of the country would be opened
for settlement. A few days before the 22nd, the men with grandmother; and my sister Cora (who is Mrs. E.
E. Oaks of Stillwater), started for Kingfisher. Two or three covered wagons were brought, besides the riding
horses. The wagons with grandmother and Cora were left on the starting line a few miles from Kingfisher.
Water for their cattle had been quite a problem at times in "No Man's Land,"
so they wanted above all to have land with running water, and they headed for Uncle John's Creek. In about
half a mile after crossing the creek, Uncle Jim stated his 160 acres. Father tookthe claim just east, grandfather
chose land south of father's, and Uncle Dick took the claim bordering grandfather's on the east. The other
men filed on nearby land, for they were good friends, in fact just like part of the family and helped with all
the building--all working together on each project.
There was a creek of clear water running through Uncle Dick's, Al Extine's, father's and Uncle
Jim's farms, which was wonderful not only for the cattle and horses but for children's play, as I learned when
I came along later. I was born in the half-sod, half-dugout house a few years after the run.
Grandmother and sister Cora lived in the wagon and prepared the meals for the men while
they plowed the ground, planted crops and harvested them and built temporary homes. In the fall, after this
was accomplished, father and my uncles went back for their families, household goods and cattle.
My oldes sister, Grace, who was nearly 14 years of age and who a couple years later became the
wife of George B. Hensley, and sister Nora, age 9, rode ponies and drove the herd of cattle from "No Man's
Land" to the new farms. Nora became the wife of Stephen Dull. Francis, her oldest son, is the
only one of her children now living in Oklahoma. Her home has been in Oregon for many years.
Father and mother had two other children who were '89er's--Gilbert, 6 years, and Dora (Mrs.
Fred) Morton, who was 1 year of age when brought to the new home. Gilbert spent more than 40 years in Oregon
prior to his passing in January, 1964.
The only children of Uncle Dick and Aunt Mary who were '89er's are Alva of Miami, Okla., and
Gertrude (Mrs. Pearl) Helt of Kingfisher. Two of their younger children still live here, Cora (Mrs. Jim)
Ash and Charley Howe.
All were delighted with the new land and homes until the frame houses could be built.
The temporary homes were all similar to ours except grandfather's. His was made of native stone, but was
not large enough to accommodate the Sunday school he desired for his grandchildren, so he put up posts and beams
with a top of brush and straw (an arbor) made benches and conducted a Sunday school not only for his grandchildren
but also for the neighbors' children. When weather became colder, the Sunday school was moved to Warner Brown's
sod stable, east of Uncle Dick's farm, and church services were held by preachers of several denominations.
After a time, a group of worshippers decided to become affilliated with the United Brethern
church and so they erected a nice building for worship. Louis Thorpe was a good carpenter and with help from
my father, uncles and others in the neighborhood, a building was erected on a corner of land donated by Billy Brown,
who had the claim just south of grandfather's. This church building was given the name of "Howe Chapel."
I will concede that perhaps there was no regular pastor at first, but form the time I can remember there was, and
soon a parsonage was erected in the church yard. Sunday school and church services continued for some time
after the first World War, when roads and cars permitted the farmers to attend churches in Kingfisher, Okarche
and Reeding. After Howe Chapel was not used any more, the building was torn down and the lumber was given
to the United Brethern church at Reeding and was used to build a parsonage there. When the church at Reeding
was disbanded, the parsonage was sold to Mrs. Katie Best and moved to her farm, and is still in use.
Mother brought her accordion with her and often played it in the evenings, and with father's
help taught us many songs. It was not long until there was a reed organ in the church and in many of the
homes, and a music teacher in the community. The young people met in the homes and spent enjoyable evenings
My older sisters told me that their first schoolhouse was a sod building at least three miles
nearernearer to Kingfisher and that they and our brother Gilbert had to walk through fields and pastures to get
there. Claude Meacham, and the children of John Hill and W. H. Nichols were among those who attended school
in the sod house.
By the time I was old enough to attend school, we had a nice wooden building with many
windows and two doors, just one and a half miles from our home. This school was named "Pleasant
Valley" and was a quartermile or less east of John's creek, where in winter weather many of the pupils
would skate on the ice at the noon hour. Johnn's creek also was used to baptize those who became members
of the church.
In 1903, when my sister, Dora Morton, and I were the only children at home, father moved into
Kingfisher. He purchased an oil and gasoline business which he operated until after the first garage and
gasoline pumps were put in to serve the automobiles. The first garage in Kingfisher was opened by M. O. Stetler
on Jan. 1, 1909.
Again referring to our family's good friend, Louis Thorpe, he was known to the children as Uncle
Lew and was not only a good carpenter but did a lot of county surveying. Later his son, Louis A. Thorpe,
was county surveyor and his grandson, Louia A. Jr., assisted him as did the other two grandsons, Claude and John
making three generations of surveyors in their family.