New REH Letter Found in Glenn Lord Effects

Dime Sports

[by Rob Roehm. Originally published April 15, 2012 at rehtwogunraconteur.com]

During my Spring Break this year [2012], Lou Ann Lord sent Paradox Entertainment [now Cabinet Entertainmentseven large boxes of paperwork from the Glenn Lord files. Paradox is located in Beverly Hills—or “Down Below” as we call everything south of here; “here” being the High Desert of Southern California. With such a large cache of material so close, I used up three of my seven days going back and forth to help sort the stash. Two of the boxes were full of assorted papers with no rhyme or reason as to organization: newspaper clippings, photocopies of magazine pages, Glenn’s retypes of REH typescripts, notes on foreign REH editions, copies of Glenn’s various efforts for a variety of amateur press associations, etc. A big mess. The other boxes were comparatively neat and organized and consisted primarily of correspondence. This was separated into file-folders, each labeled with either someone’s name—“Price, E. Hoffmann”—or the dates the letters were received—“1979 / January—June.”

Paradox was, of course, most interested in the contracts; I had a different focus: here was the history of everything, letters from the agents, Kittie West and Oscar J. Friend, and Harold Preece and Tevis Clyde Smith and . . . So after Nikko, Paradox’s intern, had gone through a box and made notes on its contents, I went through it and pulled various items for scanning or photographing. I’d originally planned on just scanning everything, but it quickly became obvious that I just didn’t have enough time to do that. I did, however, look at every single piece of paper in all seven boxes. I quickly skimmed each sheet and made my determination: copy or don’t copy. So the Foundation will have Roehm’s version of what was most important in the boxes. I’m sure others wouldn’t agree with everything I selected, and some will whine at what I left out, but the good news is that it will all be available at a Texas University at some point down the road, at least that’s the plan.

Anyway, I’d work at Paradox for four or five hours, then collect the items I thought most important and take them home to scan (their scanner isn’t very good). I’d spend the rest of the day scanning what I had, plus most of the next day, and then return to do it all over again the following day. I found out early that I wasn’t going to be able to scan everything while making the detailed notes about what each scan actually was—I just didn’t have enough time—so now I’m sitting here with a pile of images that need to be dated and sorted. I have no idea how long that’s going to take.

I also discovered that I sometimes lack focus. Several times, something from the stacks would send me off looking for more information. Case in point: a Glenn-typed document beginning “Name: Robert Ervin Howard” and ending “Dime Sports Magazine / June 1936.” The document appeared to be a transcription of an unknown “about the author” letter that Howard had sent to that pulp around the time that “Iron-Jaw” was published (April 1936). Why had we never heard of this? Maybe, I thought, someone had sent it to Glenn and he discovered it was a fake; or maybe he could never verify it was the real deal; or maybe it was just lost in the stacks.

No one I know has that particular issue, so I started making phone calls and sending emails to various places with pulp collections. This took time away from scanning, but I really wanted to know about this letter. Two days later, one of my contacts came through and we now have a new, verified Howard letter for the correspondence collection.

1936 04-00

And that’s just one of the items that we’ve found in Glenn’s collection. Members of the REH Foundation can look forward to lots of previously unknown material in upcoming Newsletters.

The Mystery of the Wichita Falls Country

Byers,_Texas_(circa_1910-1920s)

[by Rob Roehm. Originally published January 10, 2012, at rehtwogunraconteur.com; this version updated and lightly edited.]

I love a mystery. Unfortunately, I never have enough time to spend in Texas, where most of my favorite mysteries are, but I did manage a trip during the first week of January 2012 with my dad. Besides exploring several old Texas towns, this trip was also full of courthouses and documents. The mystery at hand was Robert E. Howard’s vague reference to the “Wichita Falls country” in his circa October 1930 letter to H. P. Lovecraft:

Why, by the time I was nine years old I’d lived in the Palo Pinto hills of Central Texas; in a small town only fifty miles from the Coast; on a ranch in Atascosa County; in San Antonio; on the South Plains close to the New Mexican line; in the Wichita Falls country up next to Oklahoma; and in the piney woods of Red River over next to Arkansas.

This laundry list of locations was repeated close to a year later in a letter to Wilfred B. Talman:

I was born in the little ex-cowtown of Peaster, about 45 miles west of Fort Worth, in the winter of 1906, but spent my first summer in lonely Dark Valley among the sparsely settled Palo Pinto hills. From then until I was nearly nine years old I lived in various parts of the state — in a land-boom town on the Staked Plains, near the New Mexico line; in the Western Texas sheep country; in San Antonio; on a ranch in South Texas; in a cattle town on the Oklahoma line, near the old North Texas oil-fields; in the piney woods of East Texas; finally in what later became the Central West Texas Oil-belt.

Now, let’s connect the dots. Peaster, Dark Valley, and the “Palo Pinto hills” require no explanation. The “South Plains” and “Staked Plains” near New Mexico are references to Seminole, where the Howards lived from late-January to at least August 1908. “Western Texas sheep country” must be Bronte, where the Howards lived from September 1908 to  at least August 27, 1909. For San Antonio and Atascosa County, we turn to Dr. I. M. Howard’s November 7, 1936 letter to his sister-in-law, Jess Searcy:

I well remember when Robert was only four years old we spent the winter in San Antonio and the spring months in Atascosa County, some thirty miles south of San Antonio.

We also have Dr. Howard’s medical registrations for those places. He registered in San Antonio on November 20, 1909, and in Atascosa County on January 8, 1910 (just two days after Robert’s 4th birthday), with a mailing address at Poteet. This appears to be the location of the “ranch in South Texas.”

The “piney woods” are located in Bagwell, Red River County, where the Howards lived starting in 1913. The “Central West Texas Oil-belt” is the region surrounding and including Cross Plains. That leaves us with only two unidentified locations: “a small town only fifty miles from the Coast” and the “cattle town on the Oklahoma line, near the old North Texas oil-fields,” i.e. the “Wichita Falls country.” I haven’t done much traveling near the coast, so let’s see what we can find near the Oklahoma line.

“Wichita Falls country” has been a problem for biographers starting with L. Sprague de Camp. In Dark Valley Destiny, he handles it this way:

The Howards’ next move was to a place near Wichita Falls. Although there is no record of Dr. Howard’s medical registration in the District Clerk’s Office in any of the three nearby counties—Wichita, Clay, or Archer—Robert later told Lovecraft that his family had made their home in a little cattle town near the old North Texas oil field, which lies in the Wichita Falls area.

De Camp was wrong on at least one point, but we’ll get to that later. Some time after DVD was published, Howard fans started focusing on Burkburnett as the most likely “little cattle town.” A quick look at a Texas map will show that it is in Wichita Falls country and certainly near, if not on, “the Oklahoma line.”

Due to its format and intended audience, the next biographical work, Rusty Burke’s A Short Biography of Robert E. Howard, bypasses the issue completely: “Isaac Howard seems to have been possessed of a combination of wanderlust and ambition that led him to move his family frequently in search of better opportunities. By the time he was eight, Robert had lived in at least seven different, widely scattered Texas towns.” However, in Seanchai 111 (REHupa mailing 197, Feb. 2006), Burke notes the following:

Robert himself seems to suggest that, during at least some part of this three-year period [1911 to 1913], the Howards were living near the Oklahoma line, in what he calls “the Wichita Falls country” in a letter to H.P. Lovecraft, and told Talman was “a cattle town. . . near the old North Texas oil fields.” Thus far no documentary evidence for this has been located.

Burke ends the section with this:

In 1911 the North Central oil fields produced almost 900,000 barrels of oil; in 1912 the figure was over 4 million and in 1913 over 8 million barrels. Either Electra or Burkburnett might qualify in REH’s mind as an “ex-cowtown,” since both had their beginnings in association with large ranches. Unless some other evidence comes to light, we will never really know whether Howard lived in the “Wichita Falls country” at all. If he did, it would have given him his first experience of an oil boom town.

Both Electra and Burkburnett are in Wichita County, with Wichita Falls serving as the county seat. Any investigation of Howard’s claim would have to include a stop in that county, but before we hit the road there’s one more source to check.

The most recent biography, Mark Finn’s Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard, 2nd edition, has this: “The years 1911 and 1912 are pretty confusing. Robert mentions [. . .] that he lived in the Wichita Falls area up next to Oklahoma.” After recounting Howard’s description of the area, Finn adds the following:

The evidence suggests that Isaac pulled the family out to the burgeoning Burkburnett Oil Field in North Texas to see if it suited him. When oil was struck in 1912, the town became swamped as a torrent of people invaded the area in what had become the usual boomtown fashion.

Finn goes on to say that the Howards then returned to the Palo Pinto area before moving on to Red River County and Bagwell. This makes some sense, though I haven’t found any evidence of their return to that area.

With all of the book work finished, let’s look at the map. Howard’s use of “Wichita Falls country” leaves lots of wiggle room. De Camp says he looked in three counties— Wichita, Clay, and Archer—maybe by expanding the net to include nearby Wilbarger, Baylor, and Montague Counties, I could find something. Montague County was especially enticing: Dr. Howard had registered there in May 1900, could a return to familiar stomping grounds be the solution? My dad and I made our plans and hit the road on January 1, 2012.

After spending some time near Waco, we headed up to the Wichita Falls country: first stop, Montague County. After searching several courthouses in the days preceding our arrival, we were old hands at searching for what we were after. We scoured the land purchases from 1899 to 1915 and found nothing. Neither the County nor District Clerk knew anything about a physicians’ registry.

Over in Henrietta, the County Seat of Clay County, our luck changed. We walked into the courthouse and learned that the County Clerk’s office, where land records are held, was no longer in the courthouse itself, but located just across the street. The District Clerk’s office was just down the hall, so we hit that first. Once there, we asked about a physicians’ registry from the early 1900s. The clerk was surprised by our request, saying, “No one has ever asked for that before.” Despite this, she had no trouble finding it. I opened it up to the section marked “G H” and there it was: “Howard, I. M. – 51.”

dsc_5673.jpg

Breathless, I turned to page 51 and found the answer to the mystery of the Wichita Falls country: on December 19, 1912, Doc Howard was standing right there in the Clay County courthouse, presenting his credentials. The book must have been missed by whoever the District Clerk was back when de Camp was looking for it.

dsc_5679.jpg

While these physicians’ registries don’t actually tell you when the physician arrived in the county, it does appear that doctors needed to register before starting to practice; in all of the counties that I’ve found documents pertaining to Dr. Howard—birth and death records, mostly—the first one is always his registration. If this is how things worked, then the Howards must have moved sometime between the doctor’s last birth notice in Palo Pinto County—dated October 18, 1912—and his registration in Clay County—December 19, 1912. Not a big window, but where in the county did they land? A typed statement signed by Doctor Howard (above) says that his “post office address” was Byers, Texas (a scene from Byers circa 1910-20 heads this post).

I turned to the clerk: “Do you know where Byers is?”

“Sure,” she said. “It’s up north on 79, about five miles from the Oklahoma line.”

As I chatted with the clerk, my dad took several pictures of the book and its pages, with two different cameras. When he was finished, we crossed the street to the County Clerk’s office. No land records for I. M. Howard were found. Next stop, Byers.

045

The town (above) will require a little more looking into, maybe there’s a newspaper or library, but based on what we saw in our drive-by I doubt it: lots of crumbling buildings and abandoned storefronts.

Even though we’d solved the mystery, my dad and I continued with our original plan and headed west to Wichita Falls. The Wichita County library and courthouse had no relevant information. The District Clerk there looked at me like I was crazy when I asked for a physicians’ registry; the County Clerk had never heard of one but did spend some time looking around, to no avail. From there, we went to Burkburnett and found nothing useful in their library. At Electra (seen below in 1912), we found a superior library, but no information on the Howards. Wichita County was all tapped out.

img_0352.jpg

Despite the lack of evidence in Wichita County, Isaac Howard may well have worked there, too. Without a physicians’ registry, there’s no way to rule it out. He was, after all, always trying to expand his territory, and what’s a county line to a country doctor? But at least we now know—without question—that I. M. Howard practiced in Byers, near “the Oklahoma line,” and we finally have the evidence to back up Robert Howard’s claim that he once lived in the Wichita Falls country.

Now, what towns are fifty miles from the Coast?

Upson County, GA

The Howard Family Tree, Part 4

In 1849, Henry Howard, my great-grandfather, a planter and a school teacher, was living on a farm in Oglethorpe County, in what I would describe as the middle northeastern part of the state, no great distance from the Savannah River. As far as I know, my grandfather, William Benjamin Howard, was born on that plantation.

–Robert E. Howard, “The Wandering Years”

While William Benjamin Howard was, in fact, born in Oglethorpe County, as we have seen, by 1849 Henry Howard had relocated to Upson County, following the 1830 death of his father, Mordecai Howard. The 1830 US Census for Oglethorpe County, Captain Lumpkin’s District, lists Henry (aged 30-40) in a household with two boys aged five years or less (Isaac M. and William B.); one boy between 5 and 10 (Charles H.); one girl between 5 and 10 (Rebecca J.); one woman between 30 and 40 (Betsy); and one female slave between 10 and 24 years old. Later that year, July 6, his son, John Hubbard Howard was born.

Following the move to Upson County, Henry and Betsy continued to produce children: 1833 October 1, Marquis De LaFayette born; 1836 October 4, Nathaniel Hutson born; 1838 September 30, daughter Susan Ann born (The Howard Historian Vol. 28, spring 1995).

An 1838 Upson Co. Tax Digest, for “Captain Brown’s District,” lists Henry Howard. The whole family (minus Charles H., 19, who was back in Oglethorpe Co.) appears on the 1840 Upson County Census. Household of Henry Howard: 1 male 40-50 [Henry]. 3 males 10-15 [Isaac is 15, William is 13 or so, John Hubbard is 10]. 1 male 5-10 [Marquis]. 1 male 0-5 [Nathaniel]. 1 female 40-50 [wife Betsy]. 1 female 15-20 [Rebecca]. 1 female 0-5 [Susan]. 1 male slave 55-100. 3 in family are engaged in agriculture. On November 3, 1841 Henry’s last child, Alfonse Cuthbert Howard, was born (The Howard Historian Vol. 28, spring 1995).

While he was certainly good at producing children, our man Henry doesn’t appear to have been very good with his finances. In early 1845, he filled out a stack of notices to more than a dozen people, including his brother-in-law Charles V. Collier, proclaiming his intent to “avail myself of the benefit of the Act entitled an Act for the Relief of Honest Debtors” in court that April.

1845 04-22 HH to CVCollier

As early as July 2, Howard began liquidating assets to pay off his debts, as this notice in the July 24, 1845 Georgia Messenger (Ft. Hawkins) shows:

1845 07-24 Georgia Messenger (Ft Hawkins) p4

All of these financial difficulties didn’t sit well with Henry’s father-in-law. On September 1, 1845, Isaac Collier prepared his will, which includes the following:

[. . .] Item 2nd Henry Howard the husband of my daughter Elizabeth Ann Howard, has received Six hundred dollars, in the sale of a negro woman named Mary, over and above what the rest of my children have received from me, therefore I wish my daughter Elizabeth Ann Howard not to receive any more of my estate, both real and personal, until each of my other children do receive the sum of Five Hundred dollars, then if there should be a surplus of my Estate, I then give unto my son Charles V. Collier, as trustee for the [illegible] of my daughter Elizabeth Ann Howard, the Ninth part thereof, the said share, if any there should be Not to be subject to the control of the said Henry Howard, nor to be subject to pay his debts or Contracts, but to be laid out for the use of my daughter, Elizabeth Ann Howard, at the discretion of the said Charles V. Collier, trustee as aforesaid. [. . .] Item 5th. For that whereas I am of the Opinion, that slaves & negroes should be treated with humanity therefore, my will and desire is that none of my negroes, should fall into the hands of Henry Howard, or into the hands of M.D.F. Beall, when sold or divided and that my executor hereafter named shall see and attend to this Item and carry it into effect.

Robert E. Howard was apparently not aware of this when he told Lovecraft, “Thank God the slaves on my ancestors’ plantations were never so misused” (REH to HPL, circa September 1930).

Collier died three years later, September 4, 1848. And, if Robert Howard’s letters can be trusted, three of Henry Howard’s sons headed west the following year, excited by news of the gold found in California. There doesn’t appear to be any Howards in Upson County for the 1850 Census, but a list compiled as a supplemental census entitled “Tax Payers of Upson Co., GA Not Listed on 1850 Census” does have a Henry Howard, none of his adult sons are present.

[Note: Charles Henry Howard, the oldest of Henry Howard’s sons (born 1821), would have been better off heading west with his brothers in 1849. Charles is the only adult son of Henry’s to appear on the 1850 Census, over in Baldwin County, with his wife and family. As early as September 1863 he was part of Company B in the Georgia Infantry. A notation in his file says that he was “killed in action near Wathal Junction, VA, May 20, 1864.”]

Henry Howard is also listed on the 1852 Upson Co. Tax Digest for District 537: “Henry Howard / Do[?] Agt John H. Howard / C. V. Collier Trustee for / Elizabeth A. Howard.” Elizabeth has 202 ½ acres of pine land, number 176, district 15 (whatever that means); Aggregate value of land is 400; amount of money and solvent debts: 100.00; aggregate value of all other property: 90.00; aggregate value of whole property: 590.00; 390.00.

An 1854 “poor school” record for Upson County lists Henry Howard as a parent of two school-age children, but only one, “A. C. Howard,” is listed as a student. That would be Alfonse Cuthbert Howard. One didn’t have to be poor to attend.

A January 30, 1855, “Indenture Made in Upson County, Georgia” has the trustee of Isaac Collier’s will (his son Charles V.) giving to two of the Howard brothers (Charles and William B.) some land and farm animals, so long as “Henry Howard husband of said Elizabeth A. Howard shall have no title right or interest in the same, in any manner whatever, nor shall not be subject to his debts or contracts.”—William B. Howard is said to be “of the State of Mississippi.”

William Benjamin Howard is, of course, Robert E. Howard’s grandfather. He married Loisa Elizabeth Henry in Mississippi on December 6, 1856. Their first child was born there as well, Mary Elizabeth, on November 27, 1857. In 1858, according to an REH letter, the Mississippi Howards and Henrys moved to southwestern Arkansas. And it is there, on December 18, 1858, that William’s first son, James H. “Jim” Howard, was born.

Meanwhile, back in Georgia, Henry Howard appears in the Upson County “poor school” records. In 1855 he is listed in the 537th District as the father of one school-age child. He is listed as a teacher as early as 1856, and continues into 1860. In 1859, according to History of Upson County, Henry Howard was “examined and passed” by the local school board. “At first the public school term was only three months of the year. It was usually taught at a convenient season for the farmer ‘after the crops had been laid by.’”

The 1860 US Census, Georgia Militia District 537, Upson Co., GA, June 20, has the Howards’ Post Office at Double Bridges with the following in the household: Henry Howard, 65, M, School Teacher, Real Estate $1,000, Personal $300, b. VA; E. A. [Betsy], 62, F, b. GA; S. A. [Susan], 20, F, Seamstress, b. GA; and A. C. C. [Alfonse], 18, M, Farm hand, b. GA.

1861 03-30 Upson Pilot (Thomaston) p3

History of Upson County states that in 1861 Henry Howard received 256 votes as “tax receiver.” Also on the list were Wm. H. Brown, 165 votes, Jesse Williams, 130, and a scattering of others. Notices like the above, from March 30, 1861, started appearing in the Upson Pilot not long after he was sworn in. He was reelected in 1862, as this notice from the Upson Pilot for January 4, 1862, shows:

1862 01-04 Upson Pilot (Thomaston) p2

It’s unclear (again) what Henry Howard was doing during the Civil War, but there is a Henry Howard of Upson County who receives $4.00 from the Confederate Army on April 29, 1863; there is also a note from a James Russell saying that he owes Howard for a mule: “the above account is correct and just; that I purchased the above articles of the said Henry Howard at the price therein charged amounting to one thousand dollars and that I have not paid the account for want of money.”

Whether Howard was actually involved in the fighting is not known, but he swore he wasn’t on July 4, 1867, when he filled out a form in the Returns of Qualified Voters and Reconstruction Oath Books, 1867-1869 where he registered to vote in the Flint District of Upson County.

1867 07-04-p

An 1869 Property Tax Digest has Howard, Henry, “Agt for wife: 202 acres, number 176, district 15, Upson Co.; Aggregate Value: 405; All other property” valued at 30. Son A. C. is listed below him.

The June 8, 1870 US Census Schedule 3 “Productions of Agriculture” has Henry Howard listed, but is so faded that I can’t read the information. The 1870 US Census for Upson Co., July 12, has their Post Office at Thomaston and lists the following: Henry Howard, 75, M, Farmer, Real Estate $500, Personal $300, b. VA; Elizabeth, 72, F, Keeping House, b. GA; Alphonso, 27, M, Farm hand, b. GA; and Susan, 30, F, At Home, b. GA.

The 1871 Property Tax Digest has Henry Howard, Agt for wife, 202 acres valued at 400; other property valued at 25. Five years later, April 27, 1876, Henry Howard died. The May 6, 1876 edition of Thomaston Herald ran the following:

DEAD On Thursday, the 27th of April, Mr. Henry Howard, age 81 years, died at his home in this county. He has been a good and useful citizen and served his country as a faithful officer in a few instances. He died from old age after having been a member of Bethel Church a number of years.

Notices also appeared in other papers, like this one, from The Georgia Weekly Telegraph (Macon) for May 9, 1876:

1876 05-09 The Georgia Weekly Telegraph (Macon) p2

On June 14, 1880, Henry’s widow was recorded on the US Census in the home of her son, Alfonse. On July 24, The Middle Georgia Times ran this:

[Column 1] We are called on to announce the death of Mrs. Elizabeth Howard, an aged widow lady living near Blackville in this county, who departed this life on the 20th Inst. See obituary notice.

[Column 3] Elizabeth Howard, widow of Henry Howard, died in Upson county on July 19, 1880. This simple statement would be sufficient to assure her distant friends, children and relatives that she has entered into eternal rest.
A life of nearly eighty years, blameless and bright in virtue has prepared her for that “Rest that remaineth for the people of God.”
“Aunt Betsey” (as she was best known) was born in Oglethorpe Co., Ga. Lived in Upson since 1832. The memory of such is blessed upon earth.
More than this might properly be said—less would not satisfy bereaved hearts and speak only a part of the truth.

—A neighbor

And that about does it for the Georgia Howards. There are still stories to tell, but they are tangential to the story of Robert E. Howard, at best, only of interest to fanatical Howard biographers. No, the real story picks up with William Benjamin Howard over in Arkansas, but I’ll save all of that for another time.

Oglethorpe County, GA

The Howard Family Tree, Part 3

My branch of the Howards came to America with Oglethorpe 1733 and lived in various parts of Georgia for over a hundred years.

–Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, ca. October 1930

As we have seen, Robert E. Howard’s belief that his family landed with Oglethorpe in 1733 was a mistake. By all indications, the Howard line had deep roots in Virginia, possibly stretching back to the early 1600s; it is not until the early 1800s that the family arrived in Georgia. On June 29, 1808, Nancy Howard married Solomon A. Hopkins in Oglethorpe County. Nancy was a daughter of Robert E. Howard’s great-great grandfather, Mordecai Howard. There are indications that the family arrived in Georgia around 1805, but this marriage is the earliest instance that I can verify; unfortunately, the marriage didn’t last long.

On October 12, 1812, Solomon A. Hopkins entered his last will and testament into the record of Pulaski County, naming his wife and father-in-law as executors. He was dead before December 4th of that year; that is when notices started appearing in newspapers that announced the auctioning off of his assets. Ads like the following, from the Augusta Chronicle for December 12, 1812, appeared sporadically for years.

1812 12-18 Augusta Chronicle p6

[NOTE: I have always been a student of history and have studied the Civil War in some depth. Coming from Georgia in the early 1800s, I obviously expected some mention of slavery while researching the Howards, but discovering the notices that follow, and the cavalier manner in which they discuss the purchase and sale of human beings, is disturbing nonetheless.]

The last mention of Solomon Hopkins that I’ve found is this November 7, 1820 notice from The Georgia Journal for November 7, 1820:

1820 11-07 The Georgia Journal (Milledgeville) p4

Other than these notices, Mordecai Howard next appears on an 1813 land grant in Oglethorpe County, Georgia. He picked up 17 acres in the county. In 1818 he picked up 15 more (Index to Oglethorpe County Land Grants).

It seems pretty sure that Mordecai and at least one of his children had gone to Georgia, but what about Henry Howard, Robert E. Howard’s great-grandfather? Whenever it happened, by January 27, 1810, Henry Howard had also arrived in Georgia. According to Georgia Marriages, 1699-1944, on that day he married Elizabeth “Betsy” Ann Collier in Oglethorpe Co., Georgia.

The Howards and Colliers might have known each other back in the Virginia days. In Virginia Military Records, “Brunswick County,” there is a list of “Persons who gave aid to the American Revolution.” Under “Court. 4 April 1782” is listed Vines Collier, Betsy’s father. Under “Court. 23 April 1782” are listed George, Charles and Vines Collier, as well as Isaac Anderton, Mordecai Howard’s father-in-law. See also footnote #6 here. But I digress.

Both Mordecai and Henry show up on the 1820 Census for Oglethorpe County. Mordecai is listed as a Free White Male age 45+. In the household with him are a Free White Female, presumably his wife, also aged 45+. There are two other free males, aged 10-15; and one other female, 26-44. Mordecai has seven male and ten female slaves. Eight people in the household are engaged in Agriculture. In Henry’s household are two “free whites” (presumably Henry and his wife) aged 16-25, and two slaves 16-24, one man and one woman. Three people are “Engaged in agriculture.”

And then Henry and Betsy started having kids. 1821 June 27, son Charles Henry born in Oglethorpe; 1823 August 14, daughter Rebecca Jane born; 1825 October 3, son Isaac Mordecai born (REH’s grand uncle, not father); 1827 July 23, son William Benjamin (REH’s grandfather) born. (The Howard Historian Vol. 28, spring 1995).

And there’s one other mention of Henry Howard in the 1820s: He was present at the November 12, 1822 Estate sale of Pashal Smith. He purchased an ax ($3) and a clock ($10) in Oglethorpe Co.; a few Colliers were there as well.

1828 06-02 Will

By the end of the decade, Mordecai Howard was in decline. On June 2, 1828, “being weak & infirm in body but of perfect mind & memory,” he prepared his will (above). He leaves some of his sons–Henry, Thomas, and Isaac A.–various tracts of land, and one–Mordecai, jr.–one hundred dollars. The females in his family received the following:

I give to my Daughter Nancy Hoptkins one Negro boy named Lucius one feather Bed & furniture & one Chest & Drawers

I lend my daughter Sally One Negro girl named Dinah & her increase her life time and after her death to be eaqualy divided between her two Daughters Julia Ann Thomas & Lucy Jane Paschall Murphy or their heirs.

I give to my grand Daughters Susan, Nancy, & Elizabeth Newsom One Dollar Each.

The above was recorded 13th April 1830, presumably following Mordecai’s death. As early as October 30, 1830, notices start appearing in newspapers auctioning off his property, including at least seven slaves.

1830 10-30 The Federal Union (Milledgeville) p3

On February 20, 1831 (as recorded in History of Upson County), “Thos. Howard, Jr., Ex. Mordecai Howard, of Oglethorpe Co. Ga. To Robert Collier, 1. In 10D.” Which I assume means that Mordecai’s brother Thomas (or Thomas’s son) has sold some of Mordecai’s land to Betsy Howard’s uncle, Robert Collier.

And there appears to have been some problem with Mordecai’s will. As early as January 15, 1831, a “Bill for Discovery, Relief, etc.” mentioning defendants from Virginia was filed. I have not looked into this any further, but here is one of the notices, from The Federal Union for April 7, 1831:

1831 04-07 The Federal Union (Milledgeville) p4

Whatever was happening, everything appears to have been resolved by the following year. This notice appeared on May 10, 1832, in The Southern Recorder:

1832 05-10 Southern Recorder (Milledgeville) p4

Following the 1830 death of his father, there is little mention of Henry Howard in Oglethorpe County. At the end of the year, December 9, 1830, he is witness to the signing of a Nathaniel Smith land document in Oglethorpe County. And that’s about it, probably because he no longer lived there.

More to come.

The Virginia Howards

1788 tax list brunswick h p09

The Howard Family Tree, Part 2

Robert E. Howard’s statements notwithstanding (see Part 1), his earliest Howard ancestors appear to have landed in Virginia, not Georgia. For it is in Virginia that we pick up the trail of three brothers with the surname of Howard: Richard, Thomas, and Mordecai. Mordecai was Robert E. Howard’s great-great grandfather. As mentioned in part one, he may come from the line of the English poet, Henry Howard, but I can’t confirm that.

The earliest Mordecai Howard I’ve found is from a February 1763 list of court cases in Augusta County, Virginia. There is no information about what the case was, it only says “William Crow vs. Mordecai Howard” (Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia). Augusta was a huge county on the western border of Virginia back then. It has since been carved into several counties and states. But this is probably not our guy; most of the sources say he was born in 1751, though no document verifying that claim has been found.

What the Howards did during the Revolution is uncertain, but years afterwards, on October 22, 1832, one William Wilkinson testified “before the Justices of the County Court of Brunswick” in regard to his pension. He swore that he enlisted “as a substitute and served a term of three months for Mordecai Howard in the year 1779.” Then there’s the June 2, 1781 sighting of a Mordecai Howard up in Caroline County (central-eastern part of the state). On that date, a Mordecai Howard signed a petition calling for the punishment of Tories (Selected Virginia Revolutionary War Records, Vol. 1). I’m inclined to believe that the Brunswick Co. Howard is our man, but not the one in Caroline.

The next sighting is on the extreme southwestern border of the state, on the Tennessee line. Transcriptions of the Washington County, VA Survey records abstracts 1781-1797 (available from the fine folks at the USGenWeb Project) has several Howard mentions from the early 1780s. An asignee of Thomas Howard’s had a land transaction in “Turkey Cove” somewhere in the Powells Valley. His brother Mordecai was also interested in the area; there are a few descriptions of his land near “Indian Creek,” also in Powels Valley. The last reference is a “Preemption Warrant” (whatever that is) dated November 3, 1783.

These references might be our man as they appear to mention two of the brothers, Thomas and Mordecai. Whether or not that is the case, the next item is definitely him. On February 23, 1784, Mordecai Howard married Jane Anderton in Brunswick County, as recorded in Virginia Marriages, 1660-1800. The same book has this mention for November 22, 1784, “Mordecai Howard surety for marriage of John Anderton and Clarissa Durham.”

At this time, marriage bonds were given to the court by the intended groom prior to his marriage. It affirmed that there was no moral or legal reason why the couple could not be married and it also that the groom would not change his mind about getting married. If he did change his mind, he would forfeit the bond. The bondsman, or surety, was usually a brother or uncle to the bride, not necessarily a parent. The bondsman could also be related to the groom, or even be a neighbor or friend, but those situations occurred less often.

Brunswick County is about midway on the state’s southern border with North Carolina. Another tome, Marriage Records of Brunswick County, Virginia, 1730-1852, has some interesting additions. It also records Mordecai’s marriage, but it provides this extra item regarding Jane Anderton: “dau. of Isaac.” It also lists the other Howard brothers who were married around the same time, with Mordecai providing the surety for each: Thomas Howard married Betsy Ledbetter (“dau. of Jean”) in December 1789 and Richard Howard married Elizabeth Anderton in January 1791. Elizabeth has the following notation: “John Rose Williams sec.”

On September 24, 1787, Mordecai is listed as a witness to the land deal between John Williams and Robert Bailey in Brunswick County (Deed Book 14 (1780-1790) Brunswick County, Virginia). I haven’t a clue what our man’s profession actually was, I assume a farmer, but he does appear to be fairly active in land deals. And then there are the Virginia tax lists found here. The 1788 list for Brunswick County has three Howards, all on the same page: Thomas and William, both with one horse or mule; and Mordecai, who claims “2 Blacks over 16,” “1 Black over 12 & under 16,” and 3 horses.

At one point, Mordecai appears to have loaned his wife’s uncle, John Anderton, some cash. The same Deed Book mentioned above (transcribed at USGenWeb), describes a transaction “for and in consideration of the sum of thirty six pounds eleven shillings specie” which Anderton owes Howard. To resolve the situation, and including the “further consideration of the sum of five shillings,” Anderton sold to Howard “one Negroe Woman called Anney her and her increase and one feather bed and furniture forever and all other rights claims interest and services relating to the same.” The document is dated June 22, 1789 in Brunswick County.

It seems John Anderton had other issues, too. Following the 1790 death of his brother Isaac, the Brunswick County Chancery Records Index has “John Anderton etc.” listed as the plaintiff in a case with “Exr of Isaac Anderton etc.” as defendants. There is at least one Howard associated with the case, and I haven’t ordered copies of the file, but it looks like someone was contesting the will.

On November 29, 1790, Zebulon Williams married Nancy Anderton, with Mordecai Howard again providing surity (Marriage Records of Brunswick County, Virginia, 1730-1852). Howard will later “prove by oath” Zebulon’s will.

On December 23, 1793, Mordecai purchased some Brunswick County land from his brother Thomas, who had moved to North Carolina (Deed Book 15, Brunswick County, Virginia). Warren Co. shares its northern border with two Virginia counties: Mecklenburg and Brunswick. Warren was created from Bute County when it was divided in 1779 to form Franklin County in the south and Warren in the north. It’s easy to assume that there may have been some back-and-forth between the two states.

Despite all this land activity, Mordecai managed to spend at least some time at home. On June 11, 1795, (according to his headstone) Henry Howard, Robert E. Howard’s grandfather, was born to Mordecai and Jane Howard nee Anderton at Brunswick, Lunenburg, Virginia (per The Howard Historian Vol. 28, spring 1995, and the 1860 U.S. Census).

The 1798 Tax List of Brunswick County shows Mordecai with “2 White Tithes,” “7 Negro Tithes,” and “5 Horses, Mares, Mules etc.”

On April 10, 1799, Mordecai “proved by oath” the will of Zebulon Williams in Brunswick County. Then there is a Mordecai Howard up north in Spotsylvania County in 1801. He is listed as a defendant in District Court records, but I have been unable to find out anything regarding the case. Whether or not this last man is our man, that’s the last Mordecai mention in Virginia before our guy shows up in Georgia, where Robert E. Howard thought it all began.

More to come.

The Earliest Howards

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The Howard Family Tree, Part 1

There hasn’t been a lot written about the Howard side of Robert E. Howard’s family. Despite its inaccuracies (the first of his American line appear to have landed in Virginia, not Georgia, for example), all we ever really had was the following, from Howard’s “The Wandering Years,” which all the biographies have used as their source for background information:

My father, Dr. Howard, was the son of William Benjamin Howard, of Georgia. The first of the American line came to America in 1733, with Oglethorpe’s colony, and helped build the settlement of Savannah, in southeast Georgia. As Georgia was itself a frontier state, the westward drift of the Howards was slow. In 1849, Henry Howard, my great-grandfather, a planter and a school teacher, was living on a farm in Oglethorpe County, in what I would describe as the middle northeastern part of the state, no great distance from the Savannah River. As far as I know, my grandfather, William Benjamin Howard, was born on that plantation.[1] In 1849 he started for California with two of his brothers. At Pine Bluff, Arkansas, cholera struck the party, wiped out most of them, and so weakened my grandfather that he was forced to turn back. One of his brothers went on to California and the other returned to Georgia. William Howard did neither. He turned southward, into Mississippi, and obtained the position of overseer on the plantations of Squire James Henry,[2] whose daughter, Louisa, he married in 18–.[3]

  1. The family Bible has his birth date as July 23, 1827; the 1830 U.S. Census for “Capt Lumpkins District,” in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, has a Henry Howard listed with four children, two of these were boys under five years of age, William Benjamin and his brother, Isaac.
  2. The 1850 Census for Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, lists James Henry, 39, born in South Carolina, as a farmer with real estate valued at “800”; his household includes wife Mary, 35, from Georgia; Louisa, 15, born in Alabama; and six other children.
  3. The last two digits are not provided in the typescript; the Howard family Bible records the wedding date as December 16, 1856.

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From there, Howard pivots to the Henry family and then peters out, leaving the document unfinished. Just one short paragraph is devoted to the Howard line, and this after pages on the Ervin clan, his mother’s side of the family. It seems that REH didn’t have much to say about his Howard ancestors. Unless I missed something in my quick search (entirely possible), there are only a couple of vague mentions in his correspondence:

Letter: REH to Harold Preece, circa early April 1930

A man has too many grand-parents to be pure blooded anything. One of my great-grandfathers was born somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean between the coast of Kerry and New York — I mean, my great-great-grandfather — he was of the old Gaelic family of the MacEnry. He married Anna O’Tyrrell, who was born in Connaught.[4] Another of my great-great-grandfathers was born in Georgia of Anglo-Irish parents.[5] Another was born in Virginia of Scotch-Irish parents.[6] Another was born in Denmark and he married an Irish-American woman in Mississippi.[7]

  1. In a short biography of Dr. J. T. Henry, Goodspeed’s Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Southern Arkansas mentions his grandfather: “James Henry, was of Irish descent, a farmer by occupation, and died in Bibb County, Alabama.” Another volume, 1962’s Our East Tennessee Kinsmen by Aurelia Cate Dawson, has James Henry’s offspring, but all it provides for him are the barebones: “born May 7, 1765, died May 1, 1845 in Bibb Co., Ala. Married in S.C. Jan. 4, 1796 to Anna or Ann.” There is a James Henry in Bibb County on the 1830 Census with a male and a female in the household who are the correct ages, but on the 1840 Census, the same household (apparently) no longer has either of them. If this is the correct household, where did they go?
  2. I assume, based on his comments elsewhere, that REH is referring here to his great-great grandfather Howard, but everything I’ve found points to a Virginia birth for Mordecai Howard, who appears to have moved to Georgia around 1805.
  3. Isaac Collier, father of Elizabeth Ann “Betsy” Howard nee Collier, was in fact born in Virginia. Here’s his information from a historical marker: “Isaac Collier, June 6, 1769 – Sept. 4, 1848. Pioneer settler of Upson County. Born in Brunswick Co., VA, removed from VA to Wilkes (now Oglethorpe) Co., GA with his father CA 1780. Served as Clerk of Court for Oglethorpe Co. Elected to Georgia Legislature 1830-1833. Brought his family to Upson County, GA about 1835. The large mound of stones marks his grave. Isaac was one of the thirteen children of Vines Collier, a veteran of the French & Indian War and a Patriot of the American Revolution, and Elizabeth Williamson Collier. The children of Vines & Elizabeth were pioneers and prominent citizens throughout Georgia.”
  4. Here Howard must be referring to the only great-great grandfather he has left on the Howard side, and that would be David Walser. Someone on Ancestry.com has done a fairly extensive Walser family tree, and it has Walser born not in Denmark, but in North Carolina. My minimal excursions into this have only verified that location. In fact, not only was David Walser not born in Denmark, neither was his father (Pennsylvania), nor his father (Switzerland).

Letter: REH to HPL, circa early October 1930

My branch of the Howards came to America with Oglethorpe 1733 and lived in various parts of Georgia for over a hundred years.[8] In ’49 three brothers started for California. On the Arkansas River they split up, one went on to California where he lived the rest of his life,[9] one went back to Georgia[10] and one, William Benjamin Howard, went to Mississippi[11] where he became an overseer on the plantations of Squire James Harrison [sic.] Henry, whose daughter he married. In 1858 he moved, with the Henrys, to southwestern Arkansas where he lived until 1885, when he moved to Texas. He was my grandfather.

  1. Again, as far as I can determine, REH’s line of Howards came to Georgia from Virginia in the early 1800s. His great-great grandfather (Mordecai Howard) appears on Georgia land auction records as early as 1813; and one of his daughters, Nancy Howard, was married there in 1808.
  2. Isaac Mordecai Howard (REH’s grand uncle, not father), is established in Sonora, California, by 1866.
  3. Most likely John Hubbard Howard, Henry Howard’s fourth oldest son.
  4. The earliest I can place him there is 1855; neither he, nor the brothers mentioned above, have been found on an 1850 Census. William B. is mentioned in an Upson County, Georgia, “Indenture,” dated January 30, 1855, as being “of the State of Mississippi.”

And that’s about it. Luckily, we no longer have to rely solely on what REH has to tell us. Thanks to court documents, transcriptions of records found online, scans of books at Google Books, and various records available on Ancesry.com and other genealogical websites, we can now paint a slightly fuller picture of those early Howards.

Stay tuned.

“We Spent the Winter in San Antonio.”

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[by Rob Roehm. Originally published Sept. 7, 2013, at rehtwogunraconteur.com; this version updated and lightly edited.]

One of the reasons I was so gung-ho about going to WorldCon this year was because it was in San Antonio. Readers of this blog may have noticed that I’m a tad obsessed with visiting county courthouses in Texas, and, up to this point, I hadn’t been to the Bexar County facility. There are reasons for this: I have generally found that the larger the courthouse, the less helpful they are; also, my usual traveling companion (my dad) disdains to drive in populated areas. But, since the Howards had lived briefly in San Antonio and visited on occasion, a stop at the courthouse was required. So, since I’d be traveling solo this time, I figured I’d brave the traffic and see what treasures I could uncover.

I’d originally planned on swinging by the courthouse in the morning, before my first WorldCon panel on Friday; however, I lost half an hour due to construction and the abysmal parking situation downtown, so I abandoned that plan and went to the convention center. During a lull between panels, I decided to take a walk. I asked my fellow Howard-heads if anyone else was interested; only equally-obsessed Patrice Louinet took the bait [that’s him in the photo above].

We walked the five or six blocks to the courthouse, emptied our pockets and walked through the metal detector, only to be told by the guard that everything we were looking for was at the annex across the street. We refilled our pockets and hit the county clerk’s office in the other building.

One good thing about the larger counties is that their land records have been scanned and indexed. A quick name search on the computer will generate a list of all the pertinent documents. I searched for Howards and McClungs while Patrice looked for Ervins. None of the Howards that popped up appeared to be connected to our Howards, but there was one item on W. O. McClung, Bob Howard’s uncle (Dr. Howard’s brother-in-law). The document raises more questions than it answers. Some kind of judgment was rendered against McClung and a few others, but the type of judgment is not mentioned and the clerk couldn’t find any other documents to help us make sense of this one. And it’s always possible that this McClung isn’t our McClung, though they were definitely in the area around that time. Maybe someone will look into it later.

After finishing up with the county clerk, we went down the hall to the district clerk, which is where medical/physicians registries are typically housed. There were at least two reasons for looking into this. In a November 7, 1936 letter to a sister-in-law, Dr. Howard says the following: “I well remember when Robert was only four years old we spent the winter in San Antonio and the spring months in Atascosa County, some thirty miles south of San Antonio.” In Dark Valley Destiny, L. Sprague de Camp reports this:

[O]n January 8, 1910, Dr. Howard presented his credentials at the county seat of Bexar County, giving his home address as Poteet, a few miles from the border. Years later Howard reported that he lived for a time on a ranch in Atascosa County, Texas, near San Antonio. These bare facts are the only records we have of the family’s South Texas adventures.

I already have a copy of the registration mentioned above, but it’s a crappy scan of a photocopy, and I always like to have color photographs of the real thing. Plus, there’s a problem with de Camp’s statement: The January 8, 1910 document was filed by the district clerk of Atascosa County, not Bexar County. Of course, when I went to the county seat of Atascosa County last winter, they couldn’t find a Medical Registry, so maybe, I figured, the book was housed in the larger county’s archives. Anyway, I wanted to have a look at the Medical Register for Bexar County.

With one exception, Clay County, the district clerks’ offices never know that they should have such a volume; Bexar County was no exception. Luckily, the director of archives happened to be in the building and he called over to his office. Someone there located the volume I wanted; unfortunately, the archives collection was clear across town. As Patrice and I walked back to the convention center, in the blazing, humid heat, I tried to decide if I really needed a color photograph of a document I already had a copy of. Obsession won.

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Leaving a trail of sweat behind, we arrived at the Bexar County Archives and Training Center—they were expecting us. We drank gallons of water and wiped the sweat off of our bald heads with paper towels while waiting for the book to arrive. The book (above) has seen better days, but its index is still intact, so I turned to the section marked “H,” found Dr. Howard, and went to page 260. I didn’t remember the short list of Dr. Howard’s other registrations at the bottom of the page, but I was so convinced that I already had a copy of this document that I didn’t pay much attention to that. After taking a few photos, we settled back and waited for a taxi—if we’d tried to hike back in the sweltering heat, there’d be nothing left of us but a sweaty smear on the sidewalk.

In the cab, I inspected the digital images a little more thoroughly in my camera’s display window and started to think that maybe this wasn’t the same document that I already had, but we arrived back at the convention center and I put that thought on the back-burner and enjoyed the rest of WorldCon.

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Once I got home, I pulled the image up on my computer and had a better look. Different document. The registration de Camp mentioned was indeed filed on January 8, 1910—but in Atascosa County, not Bexar—and Dr. Howard’s address is listed as Poteet. This document was filed on November 20, 1909, in Bexar County, and Dr. Howard’s address (after crossing out what would have been Holly Springs, in Arkansas) is listed as San Antonio! Plus, at the end of the page is a list of other counties in which Dr. Howard had registered: Palo Pinto (Oran), Gaines (Seminole), and Coke (Bronte). Some of the information here flies in the face of what has been presented in the past. For example, according to notes by de Camp’s partner in DVD, Jane Griffith, Dr. Howard registered at Seminole on the day that the Bexar Co. document has him registering in Coke County—I’ll take a document over someone’s notes any day of the week.

Using this document, and a couple of newspaper articles I found just before going to San Antonio, I’ve put together a more precise timeline for December 1907 to January 1910. To wit:

On December 20, 1907, I. M. Howard of Oran, Palo Pinto County, had his medical certificate recorded with the county. Shortly after doing that, he packed up his wife and almost two-year-old son and headed west. The January 3, 1908 edition of The Enterprise (edited by Hester Howard’s brother, William Vinson Ervin, in Big Spring, Texas), has this:

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“Monday” would have been Dec. 30, 1907, and don’t go scrambling for a map to look up “Cran” like I did; there is a Crane, Texas, very close to Big Spring, but as soon as I showed this to Patrice he said it is “of course Oran.” Duh.

The January 24 Enterprise has an update:

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The new San Antonio registration has Dr. Howard registering in Gaines Co. on February 3, and we know from a death record that he was there until at least July 24. The same document has him registering over in Coke County on September 14, 1908, and he starts recording births in Bronte at least as early as January 19, 1909. The last birth record I’ve found there with Dr. Howard attending was recorded on August 24, 1909.

I’ve theorized that after leaving Bronte the Howards visited the McClungs in Crystal City and went down the Nueces in the fall of 1909 (look here). Whether they did that then or not, we now know that they were in San Antonio sometime before November 20, 1909. Less than two months later, Dr. Howard registered in Atascosa County, with an address in Poteet. From there, things get pretty sketchy again.

I never did get a picture of the Atascosa County registration.

Down the Nueces

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[by Rob Roehm. Originally published Jan. 17, 2013, at rehtwogunraconteur.com; this version updated and lightly edited.]

As a child I crossed the South Plains, not in a covered wagon indeed, but in a buggy, in what was about the last big colonization movement in Texas—the settlement of the Great Plains. (I did go down the Nueces in a covered wagon.) I also saw the beginning of the development of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

After reading the above, from Howard’s newly rediscovered letter to Dime Sports, I got to wondering about a few things. The “South Plains” comment refers to Howard’s time in Gaines County—Seminole, to be precise—in 1908, but the other items are pretty vague. What else did Howard have to say about the Nueces River (pictured above)? The only other mention of the river comes from his circa October 1930 letter to H. P. Lovecraft:

But the old Texas is gone or is going fast. All the plains are fenced in, where in my childhood I’ve ridden for a hundred miles without seeing a foot of barbed wire. I can’t remember when I’ve heard a coyote. And one of my earliest memories is being lulled to sleep in a covered wagon camped on the Nueces River, by the howling of wolves.

When they built Crystal City twenty years ago in Zavalla county, some forty miles from the Mexican Border, the wolves came howling to the edge of the clearings. The woods were full of wildcats, panthers and javelinas, the lakes were full of fish and alligators. I was back there a couple of years ago and was slightly depressed at the signs of civilization which disfigured the whole country.

Looking at the map that heads this post, it’s pretty clear that anyone going “down the Nueces” would probably stop at Crystal City for supplies and/or human contact. So, if we can figure out when the Howards were in town, we can conclude when they went down the river.

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In an undated letter to an unknown recipient, Howard says of Crystal City (seen above) that it’s “a fair-sized town now and growing all the time. I lived there when the first store went up during its earliest boom.” No help with the date there, but in the letter to Clyde Smith that I recently tacked a “circa June 1928” date on, Howard says that he “was here twenty years ago when there was only one store in Crystal City—just beginning to build.” This comment would put his earliest trip to Crystal City in 1908, if I dated the letter correctly. Of course, he could easily be rounding the “twenty years ago” comment up or down. It’s fairly common for people to say “twenty years” when the actual number is nineteen or twenty-one. But there’s still another reference, this one from Howard’s circa August 1931 letter to Lovecraft:

I remember, very faintly, the fall of a meteorite in South Texas, many years ago. I was about four years old at the time, and was at the house of an uncle, in a little town about forty miles from the Mexican Border; a town which had recently sprung up like a mushroom from the wilderness and was still pretty tough. I remember waking suddenly and sitting up in bed, seeing everything bathed in a weird blue light, and hearing a terrific detonation. My uncle—an Indian—had enemies of desperate character, and in the excitement it was thought they had dynamited the house.

The description of the town here matches Howard’s description of Crystal City above, and his “about four” comment indicates that he was there in 1909 or 1910. We also know who that uncle was: William Oscar McClung, the husband of Doc Howard’s sister, Willie. In L. Sprague de Camp’s biography of Howard, he says that “Fanny McClung Adamson [Willie’s daughter] remembers that ‘Uncle Cue,’ as his nieces and nephews called Isaac Howard, was a frequent visitor to Crystal City.” However, in the interview transcript housed at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Adamson says, “The only time I ever met him [Doc Howard] and knew him, I was sick.” She then describes an episode of chicken pox she had while living at Crystal City with her parents, adding that “We must have moved there in 1908 and it was either 1909 or 1910 when [Doctor Howard] was there.” I’ll leave the frequency of his visits alone for now, but it seems pretty clear that the Howards were in Crystal City sometime in the 1909-10 range. Let’s see if we can narrow that down a bit.

Doctor Howard registered in Seminole on February 3, 1908, and then in Bronte, over in Coke County, on September 14, 1908. His next appearance on paper is his signature on a January 19, 1909 birth record from Bronte. He’s there until at least August 27, 1909, when he signs his last birth record for the county and drops off the radar until November 20, 1909, when he filed for record in San Antonio. He didn’t stay in Bexar County long because in January 1910 he sent a note to the Journal of the Texas State Medical Association changing his address from Bronte to Poteet and  filed for record in Atascosa County, post office address Poteet. In a letter to his sister-in-law, Mrs. W. P. Searcy, November 7, 1936, Dr. Howard says, “I well remember when Robert was only four years old we spent the winter in San Antonio and the spring months in Atascosa County, some thirty miles south of San Antonio.” Robert Howard turned four in January 1910. So, the question is: What were the Howards doing in the fall of 1909? I’m guessing they were going “down the Nueces” and visiting in Crystal City.

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Have another look at the map above. About 150 miles due north of Barksdale, off the map, is a little town in Coke County called Bronte. I speculate that when the Howards left there in the late summer or early fall of 1909, they traveled south and went down the Nueces River in a covered wagon to Crystal City. After visiting the McClungs in the fall of 1909, they continued following the river as it meandered east toward Corpus Christi. After about 80 miles, in McMullen County, they left the river (or perhaps joined the Atascosa River) and went north another 80 miles to winter in San Antonio, the county seat of Bexar County, where de Camp says Doctor Howard registered on January 8, 1910. The doctor’s letter mentioned above says that the Howards spent “the spring months [of 1910] in Atascosa County, some thirty miles south of San Antonio.” After that, they appear to have traveled to Palo Pinto County, far to the north, where they were recorded on the U. S. Census, which was enumerated on May 16, 1910. Again, this is speculation; however, if this isn’t when the river trip occurred, there wasn’t much time left in 1910 for another. On December 20, 1910, the McClungs sold their land in Crystal City (below), practically an entire city block, and headed off to Arkansas.

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The Kline Connection

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[by Rob Roehm. Originally published May 1, 2011, at rehtwogunraconteur.com; this version lightly edited.]

Born in Chicago on July 1, 1891, and author of at least thirteen novels (most appearing as serials in the pulps), not to mention all the short stories, articles, letters, and even poems, Otis Adelbert Kline is perhaps best-known to readers of the Two-Gun blog as the author of The Swordsmen of Mars, and as the one-time agent for Robert E. Howard. In the 1920s, Kline hobnobbed with Farnsworth Wright and E. Hoffmann Price at his Chicago home. A successful pulp writer himself, Kline started agenting for others in 1932 or 1933. At the suggestion of Price, himself a client of Kline’s, Robert E. Howard joined the stable of authors that Kline served.

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The earliest Kline-Howard connection that I’m aware of is Kline’s May 11, 1933 letter to Howard. In that missive, Kline mentions having at least four Howard stories already on hand: “The Yellow Cobra,” “The Turkish Menace,” “The Jade Monkey,” and “Cultured Cauliflowers.” Not only did Kline attempt to place Howard’s fiction in different markets, he offered tips and strategies to more effectively produce those stories.

According to the Kline Agency ledger, “Wild Water” was received on June 15, 1933. The very next day Kline returned it, saying that while it was loaded with “excellent local color, powerful characterizations and fast action,” he was afraid he couldn’t sell it “because the plot is not powerful enough to support a story of this length.” While I don’t agree with Kline’s assessment, he apparently knew what he was talking about at the time. Howard rewrote the story and sent it back that October. It was shopped around by V. I. Cooper, who sent it to Fiction House, Wild West Stories, and others, to no effect. The story remained unpublished long after Howard’s death.

And so it went; Kline continued to place, or not place, Howard’s work. In 1935, business must have been going well, as Kline enlisted the aid of Otto O. Binder. Binder went to New York late in 1935 to be closer to the publishing scene than Kline’s Chicago offices allowed. And he had some success, placing several of Howard’s “Spicy” stories with Trojan Publications, as well as other items, like “Black Wind Blowing” and “The Curly Wolf of Saw-Tooth.” After a rough start in New York, when things started picking up, Binder wrote the following to his brother Earl on June 7, 1936:

The business is beginning to pick up a bit at that, though. I wish all our authors were like Robert E. Howard. Since I’ve been here, I’ve sold $700 worth of his stuff, getting him into Argosy, and into Star Western, and Complete Stories S&S. He’s thirty years old and has sold 22 different magazines and over 125 stories altogether. I’ve seen his picture—he’s a rough and ready Texan and claims he wears no underwear because there’s no sense to it!

Howard’s suicide a few days later certainly negated that “wish.” Binder sent a postcard to Richard Frank, a friend in Pennsylvania, mentioning the suicide. Rich responded in a July 9, 1936 letter:

Give me more dope on the suicide of ROBERT E. HOWARD. Funny thing about my hearing of the tragedy. Your card arrived telling me of the suicide and while I was waiting at the post office I saw a magazine thrust into my box. I pulled it out and it was the July issue of WEIRD TALES with Howard’s latest story, “Red Nails,” featured on the cover. It gave me a peculiar feeling to hear of an author’s death and then, in the same mail, receive his latest tale.

And while there would be no new Howard items to show, Kline Associates got first crack at the fabled trunk, and Kline continued to represent Howard through his father, Doctor I. M. Howard. During this time, A Gent from Bear Creek was published, and the foundations for Skull-Face and Others were laid. This stormy relationship would last until the doctor’s death in November 1944, but that was not the end of Otis Kline Associates’ relationship with the works of Robert E. Howard.

OAK Letterhead

In his will, Doctor Howard left “all property, both real and personal” to his friend Doctor P. M. Kuykendall. This included the literary rights to Robert’s work. And, while the actual items—typescripts, clippings, letters, etc.—were shipped off to E. Hoffmann Price in California, Dr. Kuykendall received royalty checks from Kline. Business was slow.

Kline died in October 1946, but his agenting business lived on. His daughter, Ora Rossini (later Rozar), took over the practice for a year and a half, but when her husband was transferred to Texas, of all places, she “turned over everything to Oscar Friend, including material published and unpublished, records, files, etc.” Oscar Jerome Friend was a veteran writer himself, as well as editor of Thrilling Wonder Stories from 1941 to 1944. Upon purchasing Kline’s business, he set out to fatten it by contacting various authors, including Binder and British science fiction writer Eric Frank Russell, and asking them to let him represent them. The Howard items were probably not very high on his priority list. Things change.

In 1950, a small specialty publisher purchased the rights for Howard’s The Hour of the Dragon—Gnome Press. Conan the Conqueror, as the novel was re-titled, was the first in a series of books covering the Cimmerian’s exploits. From all accounts the series wasn’t exactly lucrative, but it did show some possibilities. Enter L. Sprague de Camp.

According to de Camp’s introduction to Gnome’s King Conan (1953), he had been acquainted with Oscar Friend and, when he learned from Donald Wollheim that Friend had “a whole pile of unpublished Howard manuscripts,” he rushed right over. This was November 30, 1951. Upon his arrival, he met Harold Preece, and then Friend “hauled out the carton of manuscripts—about twenty pounds of them.” Among the stash, three Conan tales were discovered, and “it was agreed that [de Camp] should rewrite these stories—not, however, to turn them into typical de Camp pieces, but to create as nearly as possible what Howard would have produced if in his later years he had undertaken to rewrite them himself with all the care he could manage.”

Meanwhile, Doctor Kuykendall had decided that he’d had enough of the literature business and made Friend an offer: “We would consider a sale price of three thousand dollars for all rights, and a complete release of any claim to future royalties that might accrue.” Friend responded on March 14, 1954, saying that the property wasn’t really worth that much, and offered $1,250, instead. The reasons for this reduction in price seem quite reasonable, for the time. There was, after all, no guarantee that the Conan name would take off.

Friend described his efforts to continue the Conan series, and the amount of work that would entail:

Now let us consider the future prospect of a continuation. In the first place, I have to guide, cajole, help plot, supervise, etc., the future books, and keep a firm rein and control—or the project would go completely haywire and finally bog down in complete ruin. There is one rather smart writer now who has been doing some work for us in rewriting several Howard stories, and he keeps pressing for a larger cut and keeps slipping in side remarks to the effect that if he wants to he can and will go ahead on his own and write about Conan as the author is dead, etc., etc. And I’ve warned him that I’ll sue the pants off him if he makes one silly move of this nature before the CONAN material runs out of copyright (56 years).

We all know how that worked out.

Sometime later, Kline’s daughter recalled that “Oscar moved to another place and I suspect disposed of practically all OAK material, records, and files.” This may be when the Howard items listed on the Kline lists disappeared. Items like “The Phantom Tarantula” and “Footprints of Fear,” which are listed on the list, but no copies have ever turned up.

Young GL

Friend enlisted the aid of his wife, Irene M. Ozment, as vice president, and his daughter, Kitty F. West, as early as 1955, with West acting as secretary for Kline Associates and sending letters to the above-mentioned Eric Frank Russell. Around this time, also, a young Howard fan named Glenn Lord secured the rights to Howard’s poems and published Always Comes Evening (1957) with Arkham House. Friend’s health began to fail in the early 1960s, and he died on January 19, 1963. His wife and daughter continued the agency through 1964. In the interim, Dr. Kuykendall had also died, leaving the rights to Robert Howard’s works to his wife and daughter. With the Kline agency closing up shop, the heirs were in need of a new agent.

In Costigan #7 (REHupa mailing #9, May 1974), Glenn Lord explains what happened next: “The Howard heirs asked Mrs. West to find another agent to handle the Howard material, and L. Sprague de Camp was asked, but turned it down due to his own writing. De Camp suggested that I might be a good possibility.”

The Kuykendalls apparently agreed and, in the winter 1965 issue of The Howard Collector, Lord made the announcement: “Otis Kline Associates, the agent for the Howard Estate, went out of business at the end of 1964. I have accepted the handling of the Howard material for the Estate.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

[Note: Most of the information used to write the above came from the forthcoming collection from the Robert E. Howard Foundation Press, The Collected Letters of Doctor Isaac M. Howard. Ora Rozar’s information is from OAK Leaves #2, Winter 1970-71, edited by David Anthony Kraft. The letters to and from Otto Binder are unpublished; copies were provided by the Cushing Memorial Library at Texas A&M. Binder’s list of sales appeared in OAK Leaves #5, Fall 1971. Letters from Kline Associates to Erick Frank Russell are unpublished; they are housed at the University of Liverpool Special Collections and Archives.]

The House that Leo Built

TCblog

[by Rob Roehm. Originally published May 30, 2010, at rehtwogunraconteur.com.]

The Cimmerian Blog Calls It Quits

Over at the TC blog Deuce Richardson has announced that they are closing up shop. Love it or hate it, the passing of the Cimmerian blog marks the end of an era.

Anyone doing the history of Robert E. Howard fandom in the new millennium will have to start with Leo Grin. The first few years of the 2000s saw the expansion of Wandering Star’s publishing program into the Del Rey trade paperbacks and the birth of Wildside Press’ Robert E. Howard series, but on the fandom frontline these years were pretty much business as usual. Other than the triumphant return of Damon Sasser’s REH: Two-Gun Raconteur in 2003 (its previous issue had been published in 1977), REH fans had the same things to look forward to as usual: maybe an issue of The Dark Man would come out, maybe Dennis McHaney would do something, maybe Joe Marek would do another Howard Reader, maybe . . .

the_cimmerian_v1n1_limited

Leo Grin changed all of that with The Cimmerian Volume 1, Number 1, dated April 2004. Scholarly, but without being scholarly, TC quickly became THE journal of Howard Studies. Informative, entertaining, timely: no other Howard publication could come close. And no longer would Howard fans have to wait, sometimes years, for a publication devoted to their favorite Texan, now they would receive a bi-monthly dose. And Leo remained true to that schedule for the life of the magazine, except in 2006 when he actually increased its frequency to monthly. True, sometimes issues were delayed, but never for long, and certainly not for years.

As if editing and publishing a serious, bi-monthly journal wasn’t enough, in 2005 Leo introduced The Cimmerian Awards. The awards honored the best and brightest in Howard scholarship from the preceding year. Presented at Howard Days that June, the awards were a big success. He also started The Cimmerian Library that year. This series of chapbooks featured items that didn’t quite fit in the regular publication. And Mr. Grin wasn’t finished yet.

After having my first article published in The Cimmerian (“Howard’s Ruin,” February 2005), Leo and I became fast friends; I was still new to fandom and Leo was kind enough to show me the ropes. It was during one of our initial email exchanges that I first heard of The Cimmerian blog, August 1, 2005, almost a year before it actually appeared. Leo had been telling me about his plan to get Howard the recognition he deserves and, completely off the cuff, mentioned that “one of my projects is going to be to revamp The Cimmerian’s website, put up a blog,” etc. At the time, I barely knew what a blog was and pretty much forgot about it.

By March of 2006 the blog was in its embryonic stage, with Leo using it to test posts and host information about old REHupa mailings that he was selling on eBay. Not many paid much attention to it though, especially considering that the print Cimmerian had gone monthly for the Howard Centennial. So, besides the monthly production, the annual TC Awards, a series of chapbooks, and a HUGE project he’d undertaken for the 200th mailing of the Robert E. Howard Amateur Press Association (ask a REHupa member for details), Leo still had one more trick up his sleeve.

four_cim_bloggers

Above: Mark Finn, Leo Grin, Steve Tompkins and Rob Roehm at the 2006 World Fantasy Convention.*

One week after Howard Days 2006, Leo sent the “keys” to his blog to Steve Tompkins, Mark Finn, and me, with the following instructions:

You are free to start whenever you want. No rules or regulations, just go for it. Any news items that crop up on the lists should be posted, as well as any new Howard projects or gossip. You can comment on your new REHupa, can muse a bit about some story or letter you’ve read recently, can review new books and products from others. Any other fantasy, Texan, or other related writers can be discussed, keeping in mind that Howard should at least ostensibly remain the focus of the blog.

The blog “went live” and on June 17, 2006, Leo posted the official announcement: “In an effort to improve the experience of Cimmerian readers and to further Howard studies on the Net in general, I am making some changes at the website for The Cimmerian that I hope will make a difference. [. . .]”

Then the instruction began. Only Leo knew the magical language of the blog. He patiently explained all of the ins and outs of posting to Mark, Steve and me: how to upload pictures, remove code from our text, and so on. And then we were off and running. For two and a half years the four of us posted on all manner of esoteric Howard nuggets. Good times.

When the print version of The Cimmerian ceased production at the end of 2008, the blog, also, was scheduled to end. But Steve Tompkins, by far the most active blogger of the bunch, petitioned Leo to leave the blog to him, and a new era of the TC blog began. With the exception of Tompkins, the original bloggers retired—even host Grin drastically reduced his frequency of posts when he turned the management over to Tompkins—and were replaced by an ever growing cast of bloggers: Steve Trout, Deuce Richardson, Brian Murphy, Al Harron, Barbara Barrett, Jeffrey Shanks, and several others.

With Steve’s unexpected and untimely death in 2009, Deuce Richardson took over the maintenance of the blog. And, while the Howard content has become more and more secondary, there was always something new to read at TC, and, if Al Harron’s information is accurate, its readership has been on the rise. That all ends on June 11.

The passing of the TC blog will erase the last public outcropping of Leo Grin’s involvement with Howard studies, but his and its impact will remain. No Howard fanzine produced today can ignore TC’s five year run; because of Leo, Howard fans expect a little more for their hard-earned cash than the pre-TC publications provided. And both this blog and the REHupa blog [now also defunct] are direct results of the TC blog, with Grin himself helping to update them and bring them to the modern generation.

Hopefully, the end of the TC blog will reinforce Howard’s presence on the internet, with the current host of TC bloggers being absorbed elsewhere, starting their own websites, or continuing the conversation in other forums. As Leo frequently told me: One can always hope.

*Thanks to Mark Finn for having the wherewithal to get a picture of the four bloggers while we were all in Austin—the first and only time we all met together.