THOMAS HOWARD – This substantial and capable gentleman is one of the real builders
of the county of Harney, and it is quite proper that he should be accorded representation
in its history, being a man greatly respected and worthy of the high esteem given
to him. He was born in the city of New York, on May 11, 1833, being the son of Patrick
H. and Mary (Ford) Howard. The father was an engineer, operating a stationary engine.
Thomas grew to manhood, gaining a good education meanwhile, and part of the time
working in the markets, where he learned the butcher trade. In the memorable ‘forty-nine
he was one of the gold seekers, going from New York on a steamer to Panama and thence
to San Francisco on a sailing vessel. The trip was hot and tedious, being two months
from Panama to the Golden Gate. He mined for a time and then went at his trade in
Marysville and other places in the state. It was in 1859 that he went to Carson
and Virginia Cities, Nevada, and there operated at his trade, and also wrought in
Esmeraldo. In the spring of 1862 Mr. Howard was hired at a wage of one hundred dollars
per month to accompany a herd of cattle belonging to Job Dye to Florence, Idaho.
The water around Harney lake being so high that it was impossible to make headway,
they were turned aside, not knowing the route they were taking, and came where Canyon
City now stands. They discovered the first gold on the creek and their band of cattle
were the first cattle that were driven into this section. The first gold that they
discovered on Canyon creek went as high as one dollar per pan. Mr. Howard butchered
the first beef in Canyon country, and the meat sold at thirty cents per pound. They
went to Auburn and the cattle were left on Powder river and there part of them were
butchered and the balance was driven to Boise. In 1864 Mr. Howard was nominated
for sheriff of Wasco county on the Democratic ticket, but was defeated. However,
he carried his portion of the county by a large majority. While stumping the county
he was on his way to Rock creek with two men who were going to The Dalles. They
had the express, about ten thousand dollars of dust, and Mr. Howard had two hundred
ounces of dust with him. They were attacked by Indians, who shot his horse and headed
off the express men, who were running away with the mules. All the saddles, canteens,
purses, etc., were taken, but the dust was left, the Indians not seeming to know
its value. They were shot at a number of times, but the savages seemed poor marksmen.
Mr. Howard got a party of men to go back with him and he secured nearly all of his
After Grant county was cut off from Wasco Mr. Howard was elected in 1866 sheriff
on the Democratic ticket, being the first incumbent of that office in the county,
serving six years, and was nominated for the fourth time but removed from the county
before the election.
The marriage of Mr. Howard and Mrs. Shinn, a native of Illinois, was celebrated
on April 18, 1865. Mrs. Shinn had been a pioneer of 1861. After leaving Grant county
Mr. Howard traveled to various places and then returned to that county, and in 1883
he came to his present place, four and one-half miles west from Drewsey. He entered
land and went to the commendable labor of improving and he has been numbered with
the leading men of the county since his advent here. Mr. Howard now has a fine estate
of one section, and plenty of water for irrigating purposes.
This worthy couple have one son, Edward J., who lives at home.
Transcribed from Pages 665-666 of Harney County Biographies from “An Illustrated
History of Baker, Grant, Malheur and Harney Counties with a brief outline of the
early history of the State of Oregon”, Published 1902 by Western Historical Publishing