Family Histories of Coleman County, Texas

by R. W Howell, Jr.

From A History of Coleman County and Its People, 1985 
edited by Judia and Ralph Terry, and Vena Bob Gates - used by permission

B. C. Howell, who was later described as a pioneer Coleman citizen and prominent businessman, and his wife the former Ella A. Pearce, came to Coleman shortly after their marriage in Gatesville, Texas, in 1886.  They subsequently moved to Greenville, but returned to Coleman in 1890.  It was reported that Mr. Howell followed his sweetheart, Ella Pearce, who had moved to Texas with her family, and that his sole means of transportation and possibly his largest financial asset at the time was a mule.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Howell came from Alabama, B. C. having been born April 15, 1866 in Marion County, Alabama, and it is believed that Ella Pearce, born October 29, 1868, must have been a neighbor.  Three sons were born to the marriage: Ernest, who died in 1894, Roy W., born December 5, 1889 - died July 18, 1946 and John B., born March 8, 1902 - born August 2, 1966.  B. C. Howell died July 12, 1948 and Ella (Pearce) Howell, July 16, 1944, both buried in Coleman.

B. C. Howell’s first business operation was a livery stable which included a transportation service by means of a “buck board” for passengers to and from the Santa Fe Railroad Station in Coleman.  The livery stable business seemed to evolve into the opera house business, and in 1904 the Howell Opera House was in operation at a location not far removed from where the Taylor Motor Company is now located.  The opera house business evolved into the motion picture business, and at different times and at different locations, theaters were built and operated so that during a period of many years two or more of them (including the older Dixie and Gem Theaters) were always in operation.  The building and operating of motion picture theaters by the Howell family culminated in the building of the Howell Theater which was opened in 1928 with a rather auspicious dedication ceremony.  By the time of the opening of this theater on October 8, 1928, sons of Roy W. Howell and John B. Howell were brought into the business and remained active as owners and managers until the theaters were sold in 1945.

Roy W. Howell married Nadene Woodward in 1914 (see Woodward Family).  Nadene Woodward was the daughter of Judge J. O. Woodward of Coleman County, and two sons were born to this marriage, Ben Calvin, who died November 25, 1930 and Roy Wright Jr., who presently lives in Dallas.  Roy W. graduated from Coleman City Schools and later attended the University of Texas.  He served overseas in the United States Army Air Force in World War I, returning to Coleman after the war and entering business with his father.  Roy Wright, Jr. married Louise Lomax of Dallas, and three daughters were born to this marriage: Catherine, Ruth and Barbara.

John B. Howell married Sybil Simpson of Santa Anna in 1924 (see James Davis Simpson).  John B. graduated from Coleman City Schools and attended Texas A&M University.  During WWII he served in the American Red Cross outside the continental United States.  After WWII and after the sale of the theaters, John B. was active in various business enterprises in Coleman.  Sybil taught piano in Coleman.  The piano arrangement for the Coleman High School “Alma Mater,” words and music by James E. King, was arranged by Sybil.  She played the piano at High School assemblies and other functions at the school for many years.  Two sons were born to this marriage: John B. Jr. (Jerry), who died June 18, 1973 and Daniel D. (Danny) married Vilma Puig of Guayaquil, Ecuador, in 1957.  They have four children: Elizabeth Ann, Mary Sybil, John C., and Janis Lee.  They now live in San Antonio.

The name Howell is usually associated with the Howell Theater, and newspaper reports of the opening of the theater describe it as unsurpassed anywhere in the State as a modern and beautiful theater.  The Howell Theater was partially destroyed by fire in 1967, after which the building was demolished and the property sold to the Coleman County State Bank.  It was reported that 2,000 people were in attendance at the dedication ceremonies of the Howell Theater in 1928.

(Image to be added)

Howell Livery Stable - 1890

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This page last updated November 25, 2005
© 1982 - 2005 Ralph Terry.  All rights reserved.