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 Irving Howbert

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Irving Howbert

  • Birth 11 Apr 1846 Columbus, Bartholomew County, Indiana, USA
  • Death 21 Dec 1934 Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado, USA
  • Burial Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado, USA
  • Plot 00058
  • Memorial ID 16414989

From: Portrait and Biography Record of the State of Colorado, 1899

HON. IRVING HOWBERT. The various successful interests with which Mr. Howbert is identified indicate his versatile abilities, and his prominence in business and political affairs is a striking evidence of the confidence and esteem of the people, not only of his own locality, but of the state. Having been a resident of Colorado from his boyhood days, and developing in his early manhood unusual business ability, it was but natural that he should become interested in many of the principal industries of the state. In mining, banking, manufacturing and other enterprises that have aided in building up the state he has been one of the most prominent factors, and with hardly an exception, his business efforts have been successful.

The Howbert family is of German extraction, and has been identified with American history since colonial days. George Howbert was a planter and slave owner in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. His son, Jacob, was born in that valley, removed to Salem, Roanoke County, Va., and engaged in farming. From Virginia he removed to Coshocton County, Ohio, and thence to Bartholomew County, Ind., where he died at an advanced age. During the war of 1812 he enlisted in the army, but the war ended before he was called into service.

William, son of Jacob, and father of Irving Howbert, was born in Salem, Roanoke County, Va., and passed his early manhood in that state, Ohio and Indiana. In 1852 he removed to Iowa and entered the Methodist Episcopal ministry. He continued in Iowa until 1860, when he crossed the plains to Colorado, having been assigned to missionary work in the southern part of the then territory. After three years of indefatigable labor, failing health forced him to relinquish his work. He had previously located his family at Colorado City, and there he began the improvement of his property. He died in 1871. His wife, Martha Marshall, was born in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and died in Colorado City in 1863. She was a descendant of a branch of the family to which belonged Chief Justice Marshall. Her father, Robert Marshall, was born in Pennsylvania. The children of William and Martha Howbert were six in number, and all are still living: Irving; Edgar, who at the present writing is clerk of the district court of El Paso County; F. W., who is United States collector of internal revenue for the district of Colorado and Wyoming; C. W., general manager of the Anchoria-Leland Mining and Milling Company; Irene and Alice, of Colorado Springs.

The subject of this article was born in Columbus, Ind., and received most of his education in the schools of southwestern Iowa. He was fourteen years of age when he accompanied his father to Colorado, making the trip overland with ox-teams via Plattsmouth and the Platte River, and arriving in Denver in June, 1860, after a journey of thirty days. In the fall of the same year he returned to Iowa, but the spring of 1861 found him again on the road west, with his father and family. In 1862 the family settled in Colorado City, where subsequently, for a time, he attended the academy. In August, 1864, he enlisted in Company G, of the Third Colorado Cavalry, and served with his regiment until the beginning of the year 1865, meantime taking part in the battle of Sand Creek. In 1865 he accompanied the family to Clarinda, Iowa, where for a time he attended high school. On his return to Colorado in 1866 he secured employment at any occupation he could find, and for a year or more followed freighting, herding cattle, farming and clerking at different times. In 1869 he was elected clerk of El Paso County and served by re-election for five consecutive terms, four of which times he was elected without opposition. Refusing a re-election, he resigned on election day of 1879, in order to give his entire attention to the position of cashier of the First National Bank of Colorado Springs, to which he had been elected in 1878. Two years later he was made president of the institution, in which capacity he served with the greatest efficiency for ten years, when he resigned on account of injury to his health, caused by close confinement to business. Since then he has held the office of vice-president, and still takes an active part in the management of the bank. When he became connected with the bank as cashier in January, 1878, it was in a failing condition, but within two years, through his good management, the institution was placed in excellent financial shape, and it has continued to grow from that date until it is now one of the strongest banks in the state.

At the inception of the Colorado Midland Railroad Mr. Howbert was one of its principal organizers, and was made treasurer of both railway and construction company. On the completion of the road, owing to the pressure of other business, he severed his connection with the company.

In 1878 he became one of the owners of the Robert E. Lee mine, at Leadville, and largely through his judicious management it became for a time one of the largest producers and most noted mines of the state. It yielded a competence for himself and each of his associates. Since that date he has been more or less closely connected with mining operations in various parts of the state. He has taken a prominent part in the development of the Cripple Creek mining district, and at the present writing is president, vice-president and director in half a dozen companies.

In the ranks of the Republican party Mr. Howbert has been a potential factor. For many years he was a delegate to almost every state convention. In 1882 he was elected, without opposition, a member of the state senate, and during his term of four years he forwarded many important bills, and served upon various committees. At the close of his terra he declined a re-nomination. In 1888 he was a delegate to the Republican national convention in Chicago when Benjamin Harrison received his first nomination for the presidency. In 1894 he was chairman of the state central Republican committee, and to his efforts was largely due the defeat of Governor Waite. The Republican nomination for the office of governor was repeatedly offered him, when such nomination was equivalent to election, but he has always refused to accept.

In 1888 he went to Europe, where, with his family, he spent fifteen months in travel and recreation. In 1897, with his family, he made another tour of Europe, spending the winter in Italy, Egypt and Greece. He has always taken a great interest in educational matters. Since 1880 he has been a trustee of Colorado College, and for a short time he was regent of the University of Colorado, having been appointed to fill a vacancy in the board. In the organization of the Chamber of Commerce he took an active part and has since officiated as one of its directors.

In 1874 Mr. Howbert married Lizzie A., daughter of William L. Copeland. She was born in Illinois, a descendant of many generations of New England ancestors. The two children born of their union, are Alice May and William.

When Colorado Springs was started in 1871, Mr. Howbert was serving as county clerk and assisted in securing the land on which the town was located. He has not only watched with pleasure the development of Colorado Springs, his chosen home, with which his personal interests are so closely identified, but he has also witnessed with pride the growth of Colorado, to which he came in its territorial days. Through his connection with banking, mining and railroads, he has done much to develop the state.

From his first residence at the Springs he has been prominently identified with the financial, educational and social interests of the city. To the town since the days of its infancy he has been a tower of strength. In society he is known and appreciated as a gentleman of liberal views, broad information and public spirit, one who is entitled to high regard by reason of his upright character, sincerity of purpose and honorable life.
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From: The Real Pioneers of Colorado (1934), Vol. 2, pg 197

Irving Howbert was born in Columbus, Indiana, April 11, 1846, the eldest of six children born to William and Martha (Marshall) Howbert. He passed the first 8 years of his life in the native town, receiving his early education in the common schools of Iowa. He made three trips across the plains with his father with ox teams in 1860 and 1861 when the father was assigned to the missionary field for the Methodist Episcopal Church. The first trip was made when he was
at the age of 14. In 1862 the family settled in Colorado City where his mother died the following year.

He was a volunteer soldier in 1864-65 for 6 months in the 3rd Cavalry of Colorado. For several years after settling down in the territory at the age of 20, he accepted any honorable employment that promised remuneration. He was clerk in a general store, cowboy, farmer, and freighter, doing with his might what his hands found to do. In 1869 he was elected clerk of El Paso County and re-elected biennially thereafter four times, declining to remain in office longer. He was chosen cashier of the First National Bank of Colorado Springs. After 2 years he was elected president. After 10 years of executive management he resigned, leaving the bank sound, strong, and prosperous. He was one of the projectors and incorporators of the Colorado Midland Railroad.

He was one of the owners of the Robert E. Lee Mine at Leadville. He was active in the development of the Cripple Creek district. He was one of the promoters and builders of the Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek Railroad. He was elected to the State senate as a Republican in 1882.

He went to Europe with his family in 1888, remaining there for the benefit of his health for a period of 15 months. For more than 20 years he served on the board of trustees of Colorado College. By appointment to fill a vacancy, he served a short time as regent of the University of Colorado.

In 1874 he married Miss Lizzie A. Copeland, a native of Illinois and of New England descent. To this union were born two children, Alice May and William.
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Colorado Springs Gazette
Saturday, December 22, 1934

Hold Howbert Funeral This Afternoon

Services for Pioneer of Region will be Private

Beloved Citizen Died at Home Following Illness of Several Months

Dean of Pikes Peak region pioneers and historian, Irving Howbert, 88, who died yesterday after an illness extending over several months, will be laid to rest this afternoon in Evergreen Cemetery.

The funeral services, to be held from his home, 17 North Weber, will be private. Rev. Paul Roberts, rector of the Grace Episcopal church, will officiate.

A resident of the Pikes Peak region since he was 15 years old, Hr. Howbert was one of the outstanding men in the development of the area. He took part in mining, banking, railroading and politics during his 73 years of life here.

He wrote two books, “Memories of a Lifetime in the Pikes Peak Region” and “Indians of the Pikes Peak Region.”

As a youth he came to Colorado with his parents from Indiana. Born April 11, 1846, in Columbus, Ind., he received most of his education in southwestern Iowa.

In 1860, he accompanied his father, Rev. William Howbert, a Methodist Episcopal minister, to Denver, arriving there in June. After spending a summer in the mining region near South Park, Mr. Howbert and his son returned to Iowa. Late in 1861, the family returned to Colorado.

With his father assigned to the Pikes Peak gold mining region, the family first settled on the Tarrayall river in 1861, panning for gold. Failing to find any of the precious metal, the family moved to Colorado City, now west Colorado Springs.

Three years later, Mr. Howbert, a rugged young frontiersman, enlisted as a member of Company C, Third Colorado Calvary, and participated in the Sand Creek Battle with the Indians. He devoted two chapters to the battle in his book, “Indians of the Pikes Peak Region.”

He served with the regiment until 1865, engaging in freighting, herding cattle, farming and clerking for the next year or more.

In 1869 he was the choice of both political parties for El Paso county clerk and was elected by acclamation. He served for five terms, jour of which were without opposition.

As county clerk, he issued the certificate legally incorporating Colorado Springs as a city.

He resigned as county clerk on election day, 1879, so that he might give his entire time to the office of cashier of the First National Bank, a position to which he was named a year before. He was one of the incorporators of the bank, which he served in various capacities to the time of his death.

Relinquished His Homestead To Colony

As most familiar with the settlers and their land claims, Mr. Howbert was asked by the founders of Colorado Springs to acquire land for the townsite and the Fountain Colony, for he had been El Paso county’s clerk for several years. A typical illustration of his undeviating rectitude was that he decided not to retain his homestead of 160 acres, extending from the present Denver & Rio Grande railroad’s yard and depot, and Antler’s Park to Tejon street, and turned over the major portion of this acreage to the colony for $250. Yet he “knew that this tract would be valuable as soon as the town was fairley started, but having induced the other claimants to relinquish their holdings for a nominal consideration, I felt it would be unfair for me to retain any portion of mine.”

Mr. Howbert is reported to have sold the land on which the Antlers Hotel stands to General Palmer for $1.25 an acre. But, unlike many pioneers who have sold property cheaply only to live in poverty and see it become of great value, Mr. Howbert prospered greatly in business, both in mining and in Colorado Springs.

Some of Mr. Howbert’s Indian writings first appeared as historical addresses which he made at meetings of the El Paso County Pioneer society, and which were published in full by the Colorado Springs Gazette. Copies of these issues of the paper, in 1922, were eagerly sought. It was the first time that much of his invaluable information had been authentically committed to paper. As historian of the region Mr. Howbert will always be remembered and beloved. Besides having a remarkable memory and many old records, to refer to, he had a vivid and interesting style of narration. Someone once called him “the Cicero of the Pikes Peak region.” His lectures and writing on the Pikes Peak region are filled with the names of illustrious pioneers of this part of the state. Their trials and tribulations, their efforts and achievements, he related with sympathetic and just consideration. His literary works possess the full flavor of the settlement of the west, understandingly told, and with more of the danger and bravery to thrill the reader than fiction could possess.

College Trustee For Many Years

Mr. Howbert was a trustee of Colorado College from 1880 to 1922, and had honorary degree of doctor of laws and doctor of letters from the institution. He was a trustee emeritus at the time of his death. He was a member of the Archaeological Institute of America. In 1914 he published the book “Indians of the Pikes Peak Region.” His second and greatest historical work, “memories of a Lifetime in the Pikes Peak Region,” was published in 1925. He was active in the El Paso County Pioneer society and President of the Half Century club, an organization of the very oldes; covered wagon pioneers, which meets annually for a dinner in the summer. In recent years Mr. Howbert has not always been able to attend these meetings. He was the oldest living member of the El Paso lodge No. 13, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.

Organizer Of Midland Railroad

He was one of the organizers of the Colorado Midland railroad when J. J. Hagerman constructed it, and, after seeing it pass through numerous financial reverses, he was an associate of A. E. Carlton in the purchase of the line at foreclosure sale in 1917 and served again as one of its directors. In the construction days Mr. Howbert was treasurer both of the railroad and the construction company, but severed his connection with it upon its completion. Immediately afterward he, with his family, went abroad for 18 months to recuperate his health, which had been undermined by t the two years of hard work.

It was in 1878 that Mr. Howbert became one of the owners of the famous Robert E. Lee mine in Leadville, at that time an underdeveloped property, which later yielded a competence for himself and each of his associates and laid the foundation for his fortune. As a director or officer in half a dozen Cripple Creek companies, he always has taken an active part in the upbuilding of that district.

Politically, Mr. Howbert was prominent in the councils of the Republican party. In 1882 he was elected state senator, serving for four years. In 1888 he was a delegate to the national Republican convention which nominated Benjamin Harrison for president, and was again a delegate to the convention of 1912 when William H. Taft was renominated. In 1894 he was chairman of the state central committee of his party, and several times he has refused the Republican nomination for governor.

In 1897 Mr. Howbert made his second trip abroad and spent the entire winter in Italy, Egypt and Greece. He left the latter nation only a few hours before one of the wars with Turkey broke out and narrowly escaped after being detained by the authorities.

Mr. Howbert’s prominence in educational affairs was well known. Besides being a member of the board of trustees of Colorado College, for short period he was regent of the state university.

Also Organizer Of Short Line

He was one of the organizers of the Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek railway, better known as the Short Line, and was its president from 1899 to 1905 when the road was sold to the Colorado & Southern. He was connected with the Portland Gold Mining company as vice-president, president and chairman of the board of directors since 1897.

Mr. Howbert’s public life was by no means limited to those enterprises which had such an important part in the development of this region and of the state. He was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce for many years and was a member of the park commission from the time it was organized until he resigned. He was chairman of an advisory water committee during the years in which the present city water system was being secured, and had much to do with obtaining from the government the land on which the mountain reservoirs are located.

Mr. Howbert was married to Lizzie A. Copeland December 17, 1874. Mrs. Howbert died June 14, 1922. He leaves a daughter, Miss Alice May Howbert, with whom he made his home, and a son, William I. Howbert, who is president and trust officer of the First National Bank. He leaves three brothers, Edgar Howbert, 1850 North Nevada avenue, who was long clerk of the district court here, and Charles and Frank Howbert, both of Denver.

The Law company is in charge of the services today.


Family Members


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  • Maintained by: Ron West
  • Originally Created by: HEE
  • Added: 1 Nov 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 16414989
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Irving Howbert (11 Apr 1846–21 Dec 1934), Find A Grave Memorial no. 16414989, citing Evergreen Cemetery, Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado, USA ; Maintained by Ron West (contributor 47389384) .