Janet A. Brandt
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This work is dedicated to my mother, Irma (Howard) Bickford who cared enough to preserve and protect the diaries and provide me with the curiosity to "find my roots", and to my daughter Amy (Brandt) Dunbar who gave me the need to give something of myself to the "future", by passing along the past. But, most of all, this work is dedicated to my husband Richard for his patience and understanding.
My Grandfather, George Franklin "Frank" Howard, the author of these diaries, was a pioneer of Jones County, Iowa. He was born in Iowa on January 5, 1855 the son of Albert and Emeline (Green) Howard.
The first diary begins in 1877 when he was twenty-two years of age. He kept a daily account until the time of his death in 1908. Most of the diaries tell of his early life in and around Clay Mills, Iowa. In the 1800's, Clay Mills was an active community located on Farm Creek and the Maquoketa River—today only a few broken foundations remain. In reading my Grandfathers journals, I feel that Clay Mills was like any other town of its size, location and era. He tells of births, deaths, new construction, sporting events such as ball games, shooting matches and social gatherings.
No records have been found to indicate where he came from or why his family decided to settle in Jones County, Iowa. An early entry dated Sunday, February 25, 1877, reads "My Mother died five years ago this evening," and other entries in May of 1879 relate tales of a trip taken to the West to visit his father in Walnut, Iowa. His father Albert was born November 15, 1824 in New York and died in Walnut, Iowa on September 30, 1883 and Em was also born in New York about 1824 and died in Jones County, Iowa. Sometime after Em's death Albert went to Walnut, Iowa...between Des Moines, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska to be with relatives. Years ago when I went looking for Albert's grave I discovered that he is buried near other Howards. J. C. Howard born 1839, died 1924, Mary A. Howard born 1847, died 1903, Ora S. Howard born March 11, 1872, died October 18, 1914 and Gracie Howard, December 27, 1876.
A List of Names that appear in the diaries has been included. This will allow the reader to quickly scan for old family members using the search engine. I've also included a list of Family Members for reference.
The diaries have been copied verbatim including spelling and punctuation irregularities.
Not only was Frank Howard very diligent in writing down his daily activities but, in the back of each diary he lists his daily expense and income. Following, I've copied his written record for July–December 1896. I've also copied a page where he noted what he had spent Flour, Coffee, Sugar, Tobacco and Shoes by year from 1886 through 1901.
In the front of each diary he has signed his name—G. F. Howard, Clay Mills, Jones Co., Iowa. Included are several examples of his written pages. This gives you an idea of what I had to work from.
Also, throughout the diaries there are instances where he has copied poems and songs, including "The Little Log Cabin" that he copied on November 16, 1877.
Here is his story: