Benjamin F. Howard, now serving in his fourth term as county superintendent of the schools of Sacramento county, has gained much distinction as an educator in this section of California, and during his long connection with the schools of this locality has succeeded in greatly raising the intellectual standard and promoting the efficiency of the system as a preparation for the responsible duties of life. Indeed, the constant aim and the general character of Mr. Howard's life work are summed up in the famous dictum of Sidney Smith, that "The real object of education is to give children resources that will endure as long as life endures; habits that time will ameliorate, not destroy; occupation that will render sickness tolerable, solitude pleasant, age venerable, life more dignified and useful, and death less terrible."

Mr. Howard was born in Sacramento, California, October 11, 1851, his parents being Marcus Jay and Jane (Kelso) Howard, the former a native of Vermont and the latter of North Ireland. His parents came out to California in 1850, establishing their pioneer home in Sacramento, and the family was identified with the early growth and development of that city.

Mr. Howard acquired his early education in the district schools of Sacramento county, and this was supplemented by study in the public schools of the city of Sacramento and of Oakland, and he also spent one term in the State University. At the age of eighteen he began teaching, being connected with the public schools of Sacramento and Yolo counties, and for seven years was principal of the Washington school of Yolo county. In 1886 he was elected superintendent of the schools of Sacramento county, assuming the duties of the office on the first of the following January. He has been elected for four consecutive terms, and on the expiration of his present term in 1907 he will have filled the position for twenty years. Under his administration the schools of the county have made steady advance, increasing in number of schools and the enrollment of pupils, and the standard of excellence has been continually raised. He is very enthusiastic in his work, always alert to learn of new and improved methods, and frequently introducing original ideas with excellent results. That the favorable opinion which the public passed upon him at the outset of his official career has been in no degree set aside or modified, is shown by the fact that he has been three times re-elected.

In 1881 Mr. Howard was married to Miss Sarah Morton, a native of Mariposa county, California, and a daughter of Edmond G. Morton, a native of New Hampshire. Her father came to this state in the early fifties, and was for several years engaged in mining in Mariposa county. Later he followed farming in Sacramento and Colusa counties. Mrs. Howard has won prestige in musical circles, having formerly been a leading teacher of both vocal and instrumental music. She was trained by some of the ablest musical professors of America, and her work does credit to her instructors. she is recognized as a leader in both social and musical circles in Sacramento.

Mr. Howard belongs to the Native Sons of the Golden West, his membership being in Sacramento Parlor No. 3. He is also connected with the National Union. In politics he is a Republican, and was a member of the city board of education in 1886. His interest in politics is that of the loyal American citizen who regards it a duty as well as a privilege to exercise his right of franchise and keep well informed on the issues and questions relating to the welfare and progress of the country, whether local, state or national.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume I

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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