Howell Rowlands was born on April 15, 1847, in Llanbrynmair, North Wales, and immigrated to McLean County in 1867 with his brother Tom and his sister Liza. While Liza and Tom moved elsewhere, Howell made his initial home in Chenoa before eventually moving to Lexington where he obtained a job with Jackson Myers, a local farm owner. On March 12, 1873, he married Mary Jane Myers, daughter of his employer Jackson Myers. Mary Jane was born in Ohio in 1844, which made her four years Howell’s senior, and was a certified school teacher in the McLean County area. As was the custom of many Welsh families, they had many children. Altogether they had eleven children: Benjamin, Bertha, Ruth, Catherine, Huber, Emerson, Hugh, Anna, Walter, Alice, and Martha Mae. Allegedly Howell inherited his farm land in Lexington Township from his father-in-law, but it is not known for sure. After some brief business ventures which included trips back to Wales and land speculation in Kansas, Howell eventually settled upon his Lexington farm located in the northwest part of McLean County.

The Rowlands children went on to be successful in their particular interests. Three of the daughters went on to become school teachers just like their mother. Their youngest son Ben received a degree from Iowa College in 1911.3 Anna married Clint Elder, and they had children. Unfortunately, the flu epidemic of 1918 hit the Rowlands family hard. Ben, son-in-law Clint Elder, and their daughter Catherine’s fiancé John Schreck were all victims of the disease.4 Howell himself died on April 30, 1912, and was buried in Lexington Cemetery. He was survived by his wife Mary Jane, eight children, and ten grandchildren. Three of his children died at very young ages. Alice passed away in 1882, Huber in 1884, and Martha Mae in 1879.

The Rowlands family collection contains letters, music writing booklets, hand drawn maps, school papers, and teaching certificates.