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Howard named new Wilson County Historian

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Jack Howard, a man with deep roots here, was named as the new Wilson County Historian by county commission at its April 19 meeting.

Howard is a native of Lebanon and worked for many years at Cumberland University where he was a professor and taught math, physics and chemistry, but not history. He noted during an interview Tuesday at the Wilson County Archives that Cumberland was blessed with fine history teachers during his time there.

Howard also served as Dean of Faculty at Cumberland.

In his new role, Howard will serve on the county’s Public Records Commission which meets periodically to determine the importance of public documents to the county.

“We like to have a person who’s lived here a long time,” said Linda Granstaff, co-director of the Archives. She said the position doesn’t necessarily require someone of advanced age but does require knowledge of the county’s history.

Howard replaces longtime county Historian Vincent Simms who retired.

Granstaff noted that Howard has always had an interest in the Archives and in its success. In 2006, the facility added another wing, the W.G. Baird and Corene Kelly Baird Building. The Baird family has had a presence in Wilson County of more than 200 years.

Howard was born on South Tarver Avenue near Cumberland and resides a block or two away from there today.

He said his mother grew up in Nashville and then moved to Birmingham, Ala. just before the start of World War I. She and a friend decided they wanted to go to Europe to work as secretaries for the U.S. government during the war, but she was told that she was too young and instead was sent to work at the Lebanon Woolen Mill. Her friend was able to go on to Europe.

When the war ended, Howard said, his mother went back to Birmingham but Mr. Edgerton, president of the Mill, called her to come back to work there.

Howard said his father was from West Tennessee and went to Nashville where he attended Vanderbilt University and became a dentist. He served in the military during World War I, and after the war went back to Nashville and “found they needed a dentist in Lebanon” and moved here.

Howard said in those days some residents operated boarding houses and that his mother and father lived next door to each other. “They met at a boarding house.”

Howard attended McClain School, Lebanon Jr. High and went one year at Lebanon High School and three years at Castle Heights Military Academy and then to Cumberland.

Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at

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