A Howard Family
submitted by John Howard
November 21, 1998
Charles, This is the story as it was told to me by my grandfather who
was born in Harlan February 13, 1901. His name was Elbert Martin Howard. My
father was born in Louellen (Harlan County) April 9, 1928 and they moved
to Jefferson county Indiana in 1932. The town was washed away in a flood in
the 30's and was moved up the mountain further. My great-grandfather's
name was John W. (Washington) Howard and his father was Adrian Howard.
According to them the first white child born in Harlan County was Sam
Howard who was the son of Wicks (?) Howard. They, I believe were my
great-great grandfather's great-grandfather and great-great grandfather.
So much for the lineal history.
As I understand it, John W. Howard's aunt or cousin's wife was
working in her garden and three Turner's decided to stop and talk to her. She
apparently was not interested in engaging in conversation with them and
did not appreciate the topic and told them to get the hell out. They did not
appreciate the rebuff and proceeded to beat her until she was unconscious.
It was implied that there was more than a beating but I was to young at
the time to hear the details. When her husband found her he contacted his
relatives and they hunted them down and ambushed them killing all three.
He was eventually arrested and was jailed until the trial.
During the trial a number of the Howard's smuggled guns into the
courtroom (there have been several sheriffs named Howard in Harlan) and
used them to convince the folks holding him to release him. The Turner
family was not too happy about the turn of events and formed a small
troop to correct things. There were several Civil War veterans in both
The Howard's got wind of the formation of this group and compiled a
similar but somewhat larger company of men to meet them. They apparently
had quite a shootout in which the majority of the Turner clan was killed.
The remnants were hunted down and killed with a very few exceptions
escaping into West Virginia.
There was never a second trial and as far as I know, never contact
with a Turner again. My grandfather would not even speak to anyone named
Turner even if they were not remotely related to the event.
I would like to find some corroboration for this event but have no
access to the resources necessary. If you know of anyone with access to
the information could you please let me know. I would appreciate any
assistance. I hope this has been helpful. Thanks, John M. Howard