Monday, September 19, 2016

Howard's Knob

Earlier this month I was enjoying spending time in the Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina. While visiting friends in Boone we made a short trip to Howard's Knob.

Philip Howard on Howard's Knob

Back home I decided to do some research to find out how the peak got its name.

According to Boone by Donna Akers Warmuth and Donna Gayle Akers, "Howard’s Knob, a prominent peak above Boone, was named for Ben Howard, a frequent visitor to the area from 1739 to 1769, who brought his cattle up from Yancey county to graze. Daniel Boone, for whom the town was named, passed through the area in 1760 on a hunting expedition. Daniel Boone and his hunting companions used Ben Howard’s cabin as a base for their long hunts."

So, who was Ben Howard? And was he any kin to the Ocracoke Howards?

Wikipedia claims that "Benjamin Howard [was] a British loyalist, contemporary of Daniel Boone, and early settler of the area. According to local legend, Howard hid from Whigs on the knoll which was to be named after him."

However, says that "Howard's Knob in Watauga County, NC was named [for] Benjamin Howard [1742-1828], who fought in [the] American Revolution [USA Pvt 1st Maryland Reg Rev War]." 

Was Ben Howard a patriot or a loyalist? We may never know. However, Warmuth and Akers point out that most of the earliest settlers to Watauga County were English and Scotch-Irish who came from the lowlands and foothills of North Carolina. 

Although I haven't been able to find any firm connection between the Ocracoke Howards and Benjamin Howard of Howard's Knob, Benjamin had a son named Cornelius Howard (1782-1860). It is intriguing that William Howard, Sr. (ca. 1700-1794), one time owner of Ocracoke Island, also had a son Cornelius (1767-1803), and Cornelius had a son named Benjamin (1795-1842).

There may or may not be a connection. At any rate, the mountains of North Carolina are beautiful, especially this time of the year. If you are out that way, I recommend a visit to Howard's Knob!

Our Ocracoke Newsletter for this month is an article by Philip Howard, My Ocracoke, Living amidst 250 years of Howard family history. You can read it here:  


  1. The view from there is amazing. I always love visiting Boone.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you for the link! If I ever discover a connection to Ocracoke I will publish it.