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Annie Howell possessed close link to ‘Restoration Movement’

The Howell monument in Mount Olivet Cemetery represents the lives of Dr. John S. Howell, a long-time Hannibal physician, his wife Elizabeth, and his mother, Annie Stone Howell. Findagrave photo

John Wesley Martin and his wife, Elizabeth Howell Martin, are shown in this photo supplied by their grandson, Bill Martin of Hannibal. Mrs. Martin was the daughter of Dr. John S. Howell of Hannibal, and granddaughter of Annie Stone Howell (1827-1907)


Annie Stone Howell (1827-1907) spent much of her life in Missouri’s Marion and Monroe counties. Believed to be a “near kin” to the estimable Barton W. Stone of the Disciples of Christ Restoration Movement fame, and by marriage a member of the noted Monroe County pioneer Howell family of attorneys and stock raisers, she was a “grand lady of her era.”

After a lifetime of acquaintances and friendships built during the early years of Missouri’s settlement, she left Hannibal in June of 1905, in the company of her daughter, Birdie Howell Smith, destined for Choctaw Territory in what would become - in less than two years - the south central region of the new state Oklahoma.

Mrs. Howell, born in Kentucky in 1827 and now well into her seventh decade, made the move to Indian Territory, where her young son-in-law, Paul B. Smith, had accepted a job as editor of “The Indian Citizen” newspaper in Atoka.

A year and a half later, at the age of 79, Mrs. Howell left Atoka for one final journey, this time in a proverbial “pine box,” aboard a northbound train propelled by steam, ultimately destined for a final stop in Hannibal.

She succumbed to bronchial pneumonia within the small Atoka cottage where she made her home with her daughter and son-in-law.


Back in Hannibal, her son, Dr. John S. Howell, hosted a memorial service at his new home, 1025 Bird St., followed by burial in Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

Thus marked the end of life for Annie Stone Howell, a life-long member of the Disciple of Christ faith, who by her own account had been personally acquainted with Alexander Campbell, credited co-founder along with Barton W. Stone, of the associated Restoration Movement. Perhaps she met Mr. Campbell when he visited Hannibal in 1845 (she would’ve been 18) or in 1852 (when she would have been 25) or perhaps she met him while a girl in her home state of Kentucky.

Regardless of how or when Mrs. Howell met the famed leader of the Restoration Movement, or the exact family kinship she bore to Barton W. Stone, (who died in Hannibal in 1844 at the home of his daughter and son in law, Capt. S.A. Bowen and his wife, Amanda Stone Bowen) Mrs. Howell took with her to her grave vivid accounts of the early years when Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone impacted Christianity in this country, and specifically in Hannibal.

The death notice in the “Indian Citizen” newspaper on Jan. 24, 1907, hints at the grand life she led:

“Mrs. Howell was a native of Kentucky and a descendant of one of the most prominent families in the history of Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri and southern states. She was typical of the old regime, a grand lady, loved and honored by numerous relationship and a widely extended acquaintance.”

Married life

Wed to James C. Howell in the mid 1850s, Annie Stone Howell gave birth to their first son, John Stone Howell, on May 28, 1857, at Palmyra, Mo. Two years later, the Howells moved to a newly developing area established as Bosque County, Texas, served by the Santa Fe Railroad and located near the Old Chisholm Trail. There, Mr. Howell, aided by the prevalence of inexpensive and fertile land, followed his father’s profession as a stock raiser.

Two more children were born to this union, James C. Howell, born circa 1865, and Bertha (Birdie) Howell circa 1867.


Following Mr. Howell’s premature death circa 1870, Annie Stone Howell moved with her children back to Monroe County, Mo., living for a time with Winifred Howell, her widowed mother-in-law.

In 1877, Annie Stone Howell’s son, John Stone Howell, began the study of medicine under the direction of Dr. A.E. Gore, entering the Missouri Medical College at St. Louis that same year. He graduated three years later, in 1880, and initially established a practice in Paris, Mo., with Dr. Benjamin D. Dysart. In 1882 he relocated to Hannibal, where he served patients until his death in 1929. Married to Elizabeth, they had one daughter, also named Elizabeth Howell, who married John Wesley Martin of Hannibal.

Younger children

James C. Howell, born circa 1865, trained as a pharmacist, and operated pharmacies in both Hannibal and Palmyra before moving to Salida, Colo., where he would ultimately settle and raise a family. In September 1900 he accepted a position as pharmacist with R.G. Dalton in Salida; he later worked for Wycoff pharmacy, and in August 1901 he partnered with George W. Armstrong at a pharmacy located at the corner of F and Second streets. The Daily Sentinel at Grand Junction, Colorado, said of J.C. Howell, “he established an enviable reputation both in business and social circles.” He was married to Alice Shields, daughter of Dr. D.H. Shields of Hannibal. They had one son, John Shields Howell.

Birdie Howell, described by the Quincy Daily Journal as “one of Hannibal’s most lovable and charming young women,” was youngest of the three children, born circa 1867. She followed her brother, James C. Howell, to Salida, Colo., at the beginning of the 20th Century, and there she met Paul B. Smith, a young journalist who was serving as editor of the Salida Record.

Paul and Birdie came back to Hannibal to marry in August 1903, at the home of her brother who was then living at 207 N. Sixth St., and following the ceremony, they left - with her mother - on the midnight train to Colorado. As aforementioned, the family later moved to Indian Territory. The Smiths had no children.


Try as I might, I was unable to pinpoint Annie Stone Howell within the Stone family tree. She gave her first-born son the middle name of Stone, as did other Stone descendants of that era.

In June 1906 the MK&T Railroad launched a new fast train to Kansas City, leaving the Atoka, Oklahoma, station at 1:39 p.m. daily, arriving at Kansas City at 11:55 p.m., with no changeover.

Dates for Alexander Campbell’s visits to Hannibal provided by History of the Restoration Movement

Annie Stone Howell is buried near her son, Dr. John S. Howell, at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Hannibal. Findagrave photo by Susan White

Following the death of her husband, Mrs. J.S. Howell advertised for sale her husband’s medical equipment. Palmyra Spectator, Oct. 16, 1929

Mary Lou Montgomery, retired as editor of the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post in 2014. She researches and writes narrative-style stories about the people who served as building blocks for this region’s foundation. Books available on by this author: "The Notorious Madam Shaw," "Pioneers in Medicine from Northeast Missouri," and "The Historic Murphy House, Hannibal, Mo., Circa 1870." She can be reached at Her collective works can be found at


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