Let’s Talk Clovis: Myrtle Howison-Stone Family

Myrtle Howison-Stone, 1907 Clovis High graduate. (Photo courtesy of Clovis Museum)

In 1903, Myrtle Howison’s family left Warrensburg, Ohio and arrived in Clovis. Their relative John Cadwallader (1863-1938), a large landowner and Clovis civic leader, had convinced them to join him.

The family built its new home on the north side of Herndon and DeWitt avenues. The Copper King mine was in full production at that time. Horses and mules had replaced the steam locomotive that delivered the ore. They created clouds of dust as they labored. The ore would be placed on railroad cars just west of their home.

Myrtle graduated from Clovis Union High School in 1907. The graduation was held at Clovis Baptist Church on the northeast corner of Fourth and DeWitt.

Sunday, June 9: Baccalaureate sermon with orations on “The Ambition to Excel,” “The Influences of Music,” “The Value of an Idea,” “The Conservation of Energy” and “The Parliament of Man.”

Tuesday, June 11: Baccalaureate program and presentation of diplomas. Orations on “The Value of the Immigrant,” “The too-consistent Application of the Monroe Doctrine,” “Literary Asteroids” and “Night Brings out the Stars.”

There were eleven graduates and three teachers. John Cadwallader was a member of the Board of Trustees. Their class colors were scarlet and white, their flower the carnation and their motto was ”Never say fail.”

Myrtle was hired as a teacher at the Sentinel School. The United States was celebrating our centennial in 1876 and during the district filing process, the name changed and became Sentinel. The schoolhouse was built in 1876 and was located at Morgan Canyon and Tollhouse roads. The district covered about 30 square miles. The school was built by families of that area.

Myrtle’s brother Tom would take her to the Will Lopper place by horse and buggy. They would turn north at Collin’s corner (Highway 168 and Shepherd) and request permission each visit to cross the McCann’s property to reach the Lopper ranch. Myrtle met Pearl Stone, a cousin of Mrs. Lopper, on these trips. She would eventually meet her future husband John Pearl Stone there.

Myrtle would marry J.P. Stone in 1912. They moved to various places in the valley and returned to Clovis in 1923. They bought fire salvaged inventory from Graff’s General Store in Fresno and located their business Clovis Hardware in the DeWitt building on Pollasky.

In 1906, Lewis P. Gibson, early day merchant and the first President of the Clovis Board of Trustees (City Council), had moved an “old” mill house, believed from the Flume grounds, on two lots north from his grocery store at the northwest corner of Fifth and Pollasky. Gibson sold the home to Realtor H.G. DeWitt in 1911.

J.P. purchased the home in 1923 and had planned to build a two story building on the property. During the 1937 depression, he moved Clovis Hardware to the old home. The front two rooms housed plumbing supplies and their living quarters were in the back.

J.P. died in 1948. The business was closed and the house was moved to Tom Howison’s home on 424 N. Clovis Ave. It remained there until the extension of Highway 168 was completed.

Their daughter Elsie Stone Wasson graduated from Clovis High school in 1935. In 2001, she was the first guest speaker of the monthly presentation “Let’s Talk Clovis.” Elsie documented locations of Old Town businesses from 1891. The “Let’s Talk Clovis” historic program continues to be presented at Clovis Veterans Memorial District on the second Tuesday of each month.

The Howisons and Stones left us a rich heritage.