Rebecca Ann Key


Personal and Family Information

Rebecca was born in 1809, the daughter of Philip Barton Key and Anne Plater. The place is not known.

She died in 1880. The place is not known.

Her husband was William Howard, who she married in 1828. The place has not been found. They had no known children.

Pedigree Chart (3 generations)


Rebecca Ann Key


Philip Barton Key


Francis Key


Philip Key


Susanna Gardiner


Ann Arnold Ross


John Ross


Ann Arnold


Anne Plater





Note 1

William Howard, Born 1793, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., Died 1834 (aged 40–41)

Alma mater University of Maryland

Occupation Physician, topographical engineer, architect

Employer ; University of Maryland (1820–1821), United States Army Corps of Topographical Engineers

Spouse(s) Rebecca Ann Key ​(m. 1828)​ Children 1

Parent(s) John Eager Howard (father), Peggy Chew Howard (mother)

William Howard (1793–1834) was an American topographical engineer who was one of the first to work for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. When the railroad built its first cars using friction bearings first developed by Ross Winans, Howard made his own design and patented it on November 2, 1828

William Howard was born at the Belvedere mansion in Baltimore, Maryland in 1793 to Peggy (née Chew) and John Eager Howard.[1][2] He received his degree in medicine from the University of Maryland in 1817.[1]

After graduating, in 1819, he traveled with his friend Dr. Jeremias "Jeremiah" Van Rensselaer, the son of the Lieutenant Governor of New York Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, to Italy and hiked Mount Etna and Vesuvius.[1][3] On July 12, 1819, Howard and his friend became the first Americans to ascend Mount Blanc. In April 1821, Howard published his account in a book called A Narrative of a Journey to the Summit of Mont Blanc, made in July, 1819.[1]

Medical career[edit]

In 1820, he took up the practice of medicine, but, according to family legend, quit after losing his first patient.[1] He worked under J.B. Davidge as an adjunct professor of anatomy at the University of Maryland from 1820 to 1821.[1] He then resigned to become a government engineer.[1]

Engineering career[edit]

Following the General Survey Act of 1824, Howard was employed as a topographical engineer by the government prior to the forming of the United States Army Corps of Topographical Engineers.[4][5] In 1827, Howard worked on an early survey for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.[6][7] He confirmed previous surveys that a route through Montgomery County wasn't possible, and instead proposed a northeastern route along the Potomac, Anacostia, and Patuxent rivers.[7] The location and expense of the route was distasteful to Maryland, so the project was dropped. When the new Maryland Canal Company formed, they followed part of his plan: to have the canal go through the District of Columbia.[7]

In May 1827, the Board of Engineers for Internal Improvement assign Howard to head a surveying brigade for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.[6] In 1827, Howard also worked on a survey that was the precursor for the Elmira and Williamsport Railroad.[6] In 1829, he was sent to Chicago by Colonel John James Abert to survey a route connecting Lake Michigan to the Illinois River and to improve the Chicago Harbor.[5]

By 1832, Howard worked as an assistant to General Simon Bernard and Joseph Gilbert Totten. In 1833, he finished a survey of the Monongahela River below Brownsville, Pennsylvania that Congressman Andrew Stewart used to try to procure federal funding.[8][9]

In the summer of 1834, Howard was assigned by Abert along with two other assistants the task of surveying areas of the Chesapeake Bay and the Susquehanna River. This would be one of his last projects as the project was abandoned likely due in part to his death.[10]


In 1829, the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia published his Specification for an Improvement in Locomotive Engines.[1]

Other endeavors[edit]

Howard collaborated with Baltimore architect William F. Small and had influence on the construction of Carrollton Hall.[11] He also designed McKim's School with Small and Barnum's Hotel in Baltimore.[12]

Howard served as the corresponding secretary for the Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Arts (later named the Maryland Institute College of Art).[13]

Personal life[edit]

Howard married Rebecca Ann Key (1809-1880) in 1828.[1] She was the daughter of Anne (née Plater) and Philip Barton Key.[1] Together, they had one son, William Key Howard.[1]

Howard had an extensive private library covering all branches of science and literature