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Dr. S.R. Howard and times of tragedy and sorrow

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, in our colloquies about the life and times of Hillsboro veterinary surgeon Dr. Samuel Rogers “S.R.” Howard (1861-1933), we’ve talked about how he specialized in horse dentistry, saved some cows who ate dynamite and how the uptown office he leased came tumbling down in 1909.

Doc Howard came to Hillsboro around 1889 after graduating from Ontario Veterinary College of Toronto, Canada. In March of 1890, he married Clara Walter of Adrian, Mo. at the Bowers House Hotel in Clinton, Ky.

S.R. and Clara Howard had one son, Joseph, who was born June 14, 1895. Sadly, the birth wasn’t an easy one, as Clara became ill and passed away not long after at the age of 28.

Her obituary read under the headline, “A Very Sad Death,” “Mrs. Clara B. Howard, wife of Dr. S.R. Howard, breathed her last, at her home on East South Street, about eight o’clock Monday evening. Since the birth of her little boy on the 14th, she has grown gradually worse, until death came as a welcome relief from her suffering. Mrs. Howard had spent the four years of her married life in this community, and everybody who knew her held her in
the highest esteem for her true womanly qualities. She was bright, cheerful and kind, full of friendly aid and comfort for every soul in distress. She was born about 28 years ago, in Bates County, Mo., and married March 5, 1890 at Clinton, Ky. She was a member of the M.E. Church and a true Christian in every sense of the word. The whole community has been alive with sympathetic interest since her peculiarly sad affliction, and the news of her death was received with a thrill of genuine sorrow.

“The doctor has the tenderest sympathy of all his friends in this bitter hour. The baby boy survives the mother and is doing well. Funeral services were held at the late home of the deceased at three o’clock p.m. yesterday, and the remains were taken to Circleville, Dr.
Howard’s former home, for interment today.”

It must have, indeed, been a bitter hour for Doc Howard. His wife is now gone, he’s running a veterinary practice and now he has a newborn to care for alone.

Then in August, there must have been talk around town that Doc Howard was intending to pack up and leave as it prompted him to take out a notice in the local newspaper that read, “It is being circulated that I intend to leave Hillsboro. Such is not the case. I am here to stay. Respectfully, S.R. Howard.”

About a year after his wife died, Doc Howard married Irene Clintworth of Pomeroy, Ohio on June 22, 1895.

An article in the local newspaper announced the marriage of S.R. and Irene, “Dr. S.R. Howard, the veterinary surgeon, surprised all of his friends, except one or two of those most intimately acquainted with him, by going to Sardinia last Saturday and then and there being united in marriage to Mrs. Irene Clintworth, of Pomeroy, Ohio. Mrs. Clintworth lived here last fall and delivered several lectures on the subject of physical culture. Recently, she had been stopping at Ironton. On Saturday, by arrangements previously made, she and Dr. Howard met at Sardinia and immediately went to the home of Rev. J.G. Galbreath, pastor of the Presbyterian Church, who united them in holy bonds of matrimony. They are now at home to their many friends in this city.”

Irene and Doc Howard lived together for 32 years on 246 East South Street in Hillsboro before her death on Nov. 7, 1927. Some articles refer to Irene as Joseph’s mother, and she would certainly be the only mother he knew. Finally, Doc married Susan Bumgarner Fitzsimmons on April 29, 1928.

Speaking of Joseph, when he was about 16 years old in 1910, he accidentally shot himself but cut the bullet from his leg with his pocket knife.

The May 31, 1910 newspaper story said Joseph and a buddy of his, Charley Wolfe, went to Rocky Fork near the Belfast Pike to boil some eggs. Charley was washing the eggs in the creek and Joe, who “had a 22 caliber revolver in his hand, which boylike, of course, was cocked,” and the firearm discharged near his groin and the bullet lodged near his knee. Fearing that blood poison might set in, Joe took his pocket knife and removed the bullet, then tied a handkerchief both above and below the wound and Charley helped him walk about two miles home.

Must have been a long, painful two miles, and I could see Joe telling the Doc, “Uh, Dad, I shot myself, but I got ‘er out!”

Joe must have been a quick healer, because a short notice in a June 1910 newspaper said that Doc and Joe spent several days visiting the Mammoth Caves in Kentucky.

Later, Joseph was in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) for two years in WWI and was honorably discharged in October of 1919.

In the 1920 U.S. Census, Joseph was shown as living with his father and stepmother and was listed as being a lineman for the telephone company. Tragically, however, Joseph H. Howard, age 25, was killed in a train accident shortly after returning home from the war on May 15, 1920. Like his parents, he is also buried in the Forest Cemetery in Circleville.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press.

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