Lucy Jane Howey: Sharing history’s treasures

Lucy Jane Howey’s maternal grandparents, the Crawfords, in their wedding photo. Lucy Jane Crawford’s employer, Mrs. Frank Sheridan, had the wedding gown made for her. Family members still have pieces of the dress as a keepsake.
Bob and Lucy Jane Howey’s family histories date back to Meeker’s earliest pioneer days, including the 1896 bank robbery.

MEEKER I This is the time of year that invites people outside to work in their yards and enjoy the outdoors. Lucy Jane Howey was at work in her large, well-kept lawn when she shared the incredible story of her family’s pioneer heritage.
Her grandparents, Bob and Lucy Jane Smith, were well-known as pioneers of the area. Her great-grandfather, David Smith, was born in 1854 and came to the White River Valley in 1887. He married Mary Allsebrock of England and they homesteaded the property currently occupied by the fourth and fifth generation David and Laura Smith, just west of Meeker. Mary’s brother-in-law, George, had sheep in the country and was moved out by area cattlemen.
David and Mary had seven children: Lawrence, Dorothy, Alan, Bill, Isabelle, Colin and Marion. In 1889, he opened a sawmill and lumber company. It was a family business until June 1929, when they sold it to C.S. Valantine and C.C. Aldroch.
David worked for the Hugus company as a cashier during the bank robbery of 1896. He was one of the organizers of the Masonic Lodge at that time.
Lucy Jane’s maternal grandparents were the Crawfords, who settled in the Sexton house. Robert Crawford came to the area with James McHatton on the Union Pacific Railroad as far as Rawlins, Wyo., and then traveled the remainder of the way by horse and buggy in 1884. He was employed at first by McHatton, then managed the Cross L Ranch before buying the “Grady Ranch.”
The Crawfords lived in a brick home that remains today. Four others homes in the area were built by the same people: the Etchart home, the Keystone Ranch, a vacant house in Powell Park and  the former Brick House bed and breakfast in town.
The Crawfords had five children: Boyd, Wilma, Malvin, Greta and Robert. Lucy Jane’s grandmother worked for Mr. and Mrs. Frank Sheridan and Mrs. Sheridan had Mrs. Crawford’s wedding dress made for her. Lucy Jane (grandmother of Lucy Jane Howey) loved the dress so much she wished to be buried in it. Members of her family still have pieces of the dress as a keepsake.
Lucy Jane’s husband, Bob Howey, also was part of an area pioneer family. His grandfather, Bur Howey, married his wife, Lucy, in 1885. They settled on Flag Creek and built the home Bill Dunham resided in for years. The Howeys built the Howey Reservoir on Flag Creek with livestock teams and scrapers. Bur and Lucy had three children: Herbert, George and Elba. George and his wife had Bob (Lucy Jane’s husband), Arthur, and Mary.
Lucy Jane grew up in a house on Market Street while her parents helped run the lumber yard after her father returned from the Navy. He was killed in a terrible accident when Lucy Jane was only two-years-old,  and Lucy Jane and her mother moved back to the Crawford ranch on Strawberry Creek.
She rode her horse to the Powell Park school until they moved back into town before her seventh-grade year.
She married Bob in 1949, and the two had Alan and George Howey. Bob worked on different ranches and for the Credit Bureau before they bought the Valley Motel, which they operated for seven years. Lucy Jane worked for the Agriculture Stabilization Conservation Service for 31 years.
She has fond memories of time on the ranch, as well as her grandmother hosting “teas” where she handed out white squares of material to guests and asked them to embroider their name and when they came to the area. She made a quilt titled “I Came To Meeker In…” which has been displayed at the museum. On the bottom portion of the quilt the methods used to get to the area were embroidered, such as horse and buggy, or on foot. On the top are pictures of how the people left. Tombstones and angels and paved roads fill the border.
Lucy Jane and her husband were born in 1926 and she has witnessed many changes in the area. When asked what she thinks has changed about Meeker, Lucy Jane replied, “The stores and having everything you need  in several different stores in town.” She added, “the age of computers, cell phones and all of that.” She is more impressed by the thing that hasn’t changed, however, “the small town community minded people.”
She has remarkable pictures and documents from her family in several albums and books. Her family still has reunions on Memorial Day to decorate the gravestones of loved ones. They hold what is so valuable: their memories and history of the area. One story cannot begin to express the knowledge and history Lucy Jane possesses. Now 85, and still working in her yard, Lucy Jane has saved, cherished and shared this treasure with others: the history of her family lineage and stories recounted since Meeker’s earliest days.