Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Howard Ship Yards & Dock Company mss., 1834-1942, are papers of the company of that name of Jeffersonville, Indiana, builders of steamboats, barges, towboats, etc.

The Howard Ship Yard Company was founded by James Howard, who was born in Oldham, England, on September 1, 1814, and brought to Cincinnati, Ohio, by his parents in 1820. After serving an apprenticeship to William Hartshorn, steamboat builder of Cincinnati, Howard established his own yards at Jeffersonville, Indiana, in 1834. In 1836 he moved his yards to Madison, Indiana, were he remained until 1844. The depression of 1844 induced him to spend the years 1844-1845 as an engineer and ship carpenter on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. In 1846 he returned to the construction of steamboats locating his yards at Shippingsport, Kentucky. Soon he moved to Louisville, and from there in 1849 back to Jeffersonville, which became his permanent location. At this time he took his brother Daniel Howard in the firm. In 1865 his younger brother, John C. Howard, and his son, Edmonds John Howard, became his partners under the firm name, James Howard and Company. After the drowning of James Howard in 1876, his son and brother continued the business until the retirement of John C. Howard in 1888 left Edmonds John Howard in control. Under his presidency the business was expanded to include shipyards and marine ways at Cincinnati, Ohio, Madison and Jeffersonville, Indiana, Mound City, Illinois, and Paducah, Kentucky. In January 1919 Clyde Howard and James E. Howard succeeded their father in the shipbuilding business. James was vice-president and buyer and Clyde the secretary and treasurer. The chair of president remained vacant. Upon the retirement of Clyde, James became the principal owner and president of the company.

From 1925 to 1941 when the United States government assumed control of the Howard Ship Yards and Dock Company, Mrs. Loretta M. Howard, (Mrs. James E. Howard), was secretary and treasurer of the firm.

The Navy planned the construction of a new type vessel at the Jeffersonville Boat and Machine Company yards and early in 1942 the War Department commenced condemnation proceedings.

This shipyard is said to be the oldest continuous, at one time the largest, and in the post Civil War period the most famous concern of its kind on Western rivers.

The papers in the collection consist of account books and other financial records, letters received, letter-copybooks, blueprints, drawings, and some photographs.

For the history of the firm, lists of boats constructed by it, and biographies of members of the Howard family see Lewis C. Baird's Baird's History of Clark County, Indiana. (Indianapolis, Ind., 1909), pp. 330-353, 431-433, 464-466, 733; Stephen G. Savage, "James Howard of Jeffersonville, Master Builder of Steamboats," master of arts thesis, Department of History, Indiana University, October 1952; and Charles Preston Fishbaugh, "The Howard Shipyards of Jeffersonville, Indiana, An Economic History," doctoral dissertation, School of Business, Indiana University, 1967, which was published as From Paddle Wheels to Propellers, Indianapolis. Indiana Historical Society, 1970 (VM301 .H6 F53).

The thesis and dissertation are filed with the collection.

Collection size: 266,739 items

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