Harry M. Howard

Harry M. Howard

Durham, N. N. "Spokane and the Inland Empire; History of the City of Spokane and Spokane County Washington." Vol. 2. S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1912.


While yet a comparatively young man, there are few residents of Spokane more familiar with its history through the period of almost its entire development than is Harry M. Howard. His early experiences made it particularly easy for him to know all there was to be known concerning Spokane, and with an observing eye and retentive memory he has watched the changes that have occurred and can relate in interesting manner the story of events which have left a deep impress upon the history of the city. He is now engaged in the real-estate business, with offices in the Exchange Bank building, but difficult and strenuous effort was required to bring him to his present enviable position among the substantial and successful business men of the city.

He was but eleven years of age when he came to Spokane with his parents, Martin J. and Jennie D. (Leach) Howard. The father was a building contractor, who in 1883 left the old home in Wisconsin and came with his family to the territory of Washington. Here in company with Frank A. Johnson the father erected the first pretentious business structures of Spokane. They were associated in the erection of the Frankfort block and Mr. Howard also built the Pacific Hotel and the residence of J. J. Browne, now occupied by R. E. Strahorn. The father, however, was not long permitted to enjoy his new home, in Spokane, his death occurring here in 1886. The journey westward was a most interesting one to the boy, who noted with keen zest all points upon the way. There were two feet of snow on the ground when the family left Wisconsin in December and they arrived in Spokane to find the air balmy, with no sign of snow. Through the succeeding five winters snow was an almost unknown thing here, but great climatic changes have occurred in this region.

Harry M. Howard continued his education, begun in Wisconsin, as a student in the public schools of this city, but had been here for only a brief period when he started in the business world, becoming delivery boy for the grocery firm of D. B. Ide & Son, then located at the corner of First and Howard streets. At that time Howard was the principal street of Spokane, with a few cross streets extending to the Northern Pacific Railroad. The place was more of a trading post than a well established town and was visited frequently by groups of men in buckskin clothing, belted with cartridges and knives. All of the north side of the city was laid out in farms and the three grocery dealers of the town refused to deliver goods into the wilderness, in the district at what is now Broadway and Monroe streets, unless an order for thirty dollars' worth had been given. For a year and a half Mr. Howard remained with the grocery firm and then began selling the Daily Chronicle on the streets of the city. He met all of the trains—there were two each day—and had no difficulty in disposing of his papers, because there was then a heavy immigration and people wished to know something of the country into which they were coming. The paper sold for ten or fifteen cents. After a time Mr. Howard purchased the exclusive right for the Chronicle circulation, employing two boys to help him to deliver and sell papers and thus laid the foundation for his later success not only in the profits that accrued but in the business experience which he gained and in the knowledge of the city which he acquired, his alert, receptive mind enabling him to thoroughly appreciate the situation and its opportunities. After a year in the newspaper field he was employed as night clerk in the Western Union office under A. D. Campbell, and later he returned to the grocery business. At the time of the great fire he managed to save a half wagon load of groceries for his employer, who was absent from the city. The years of his youth thus passed in earnest, unremitting toil, and at the age of seventeen he entered the mail service, being one of the city's first four mail carriers, his route being all the district west of Post street. Three years' service had brought him to the position of superintendent of carriers, his service being virtually that of assistant postmaster. He was afterward for ten months in charge of the mail on a steamer between Seattle and Whatcom, but with the exception of this brief interval he has resided continuously in Spokane since his arrival here in 1883. Later he was again engaged in the grocery business for a period and then became bookkeeper in a laundry, leaving that employ to establish a collection agency, which gradually developed in its scope until he entered the real-estate field. He was first employed as a salesman by a real estate firm at a salary of eighty dollars per month. He noted, however, the profits that were made in this business and resolved that his labors should more directly benefit himself. Accordingly he opened a real-estate office and has since engaged in the purchase and sale of property, becoming recognized as one of the foremost real-estate men of the city. He is now disposing of a tract containing six hundred lots, on which he has placed improvements to the amount of one hundred and eighteen thousand dollars. He also has a side interest which produces a substantial revenue, having in 1907 purchased a fruit and chicken ranch of ten acres, on which is found one of the oldest orchards in this part of the state. The place is about a half mile north of the city limits. The orchard is planted to cherries and was set out about twenty-two years ago. In 1911 one tree produced five hundred and forty pounds of cherries. On the chicken ranch are about fifteen hundred blooded chickens and eggs are sold only for breeding, while to some extent business is done in the sale of broilers. This place, splendidly equipped in every particular, is called the Sunnyside Poultry Farm.

On the 10th of August, 1893, Mr. Howard was united in marriage to Miss Tena R. Muhs, a daughter of John and Marie (Masonbrink) Muhs, of Spokane County. Mr. and Mrs. Howard have two children, Montague J. and Burdette A., who are attending school and reside with their parents in a beautiful home at 03405 Audubon Drive, which Mr. Howard erected in 1910. He belongs to the Chamber of Commerce and also holds membership in Mount Carlton Lodge, No. 103, I. O. O. F., Beta Camp of the Woodmen of the World and the Independent Order of Foresters. Because of his long residence in Spokane, his activity in business and a naturally social nature he has a very extensive acquaintance. His record indicates that after all no matter what the advantages furnished by the schools or early environment each individual must formulate, determine and shape his own character and career. This Mr. Howard has done and through careful utilization of opportunities has steadily progressed to a prominent position in business circles.

Submitted to the Washington Biographies Project in October 2015 by Diane Wright. Submitter has no additional information about the person(s) or family mentioned above.

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