First Settlers of Oregon County from the OCMO History Book

Josiah Howell: Original Settler

Josiah Howell, considered the first permanent settler of Oregon County, was born 1763 in Bertie County, North Carolina. His parents, Thomas Howell and Mary Daughtry were Quakers, their families originally from Virginia.

It was tradition, apparently, for the Howells to pioneer from Wales to the New World, in North Carolina with early settlers and among the first families to Sumner County, Tennessee, in 1795.

By 1835 Josiah Howell was tired of crowded areas, gathered his large family (including grandchildren), loaded their belongings on wagons, hitched up mules and headed for thee “wilderness of southern Missouri.”

Sarah (Lassiter) Howell, Josiah’s wife since 1787, proudly watched their sons help form Oregon County: Willie/Wyley, Sr., as surveyor; Thomas Jefferson was state representative; and Josephus Madison, first postmaster, J.P., and Sheriff. In later years their only daughter Mary “Polly” (Howell) Maddox donated land for the Howell County (named for this family) courthouse.

Josiah and Sarah had two other sons, Dr. Eason Howell of Macon County, Tennessee, and William L. Howell of Scott County, Missouri.

Thomas J. Howell rode horseback to Jefferson City to meet with the 26th and 28th General Assembly. In letters to his brother this era, Thomas J. complained of the “dirty politics” of the day.

Thomas J. Howell had married Emeline Campbell in 1831 and their children’s marriages include many pioneer surnames of Oregon County: Mary Ann married Andrew J. Seay; Jasper Newton married Columbia Forman; Emilia married Hardin Brown; Sarah was second wife of Andrew J. Seay; Eliza (no data); Anjaline married Judge William Smith; Josephus M. married Susan Guthrie; Melissa married Samuel Owens; Arcena married Franklin Childers; William Benton married Mary Mathis; and Lorenzo Dow Howell married Jemima Sloan.

The Howell families joined many others who suffered through the Civil War, losing sons in battle or suffering the heartbreak of brothers in opposing armies. But as a general rule, since 1839, the Howells have built homes, schools, and businesses, always striving for a better way of life.

Many Howells are still content to make their homes in Oregon County. However some descendants have continued the Howell tradition of pioneering wilderness areas in Nevada, California, Ohio, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Florida, and possibly other unknown lands.


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