Howard Stansbury was born February 8, 1806 in New York City. A civil engineer by profession, Stansbury's pre-military career was quite remarkable. In 1828 he was placed in charge of the survey of proposed canals to unite Lake Erie and Lake Michigan with the Wabash River , and was also engaged in other surveys of western rivers. In Indiana, in 1836 he made a survey of James River with a view toward improving the harbor of Richmond, and in 1837 he surveyed the Illinois and Kaskaskia Rivers being afterward engaged upon the survey for a railroad from Milwaukee to Dubuque and charged with the construction of a road from Milwaukee to the Mississippi River.
In July of 1838 he became a Lieutenant in the U S Corps of Topographical Engineers with promotion to Captain in 1840. In 1841 he was engaged in a survey of the Great Lakes. In 1842 through 1845 he was in charge of the survey of the harbor of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a work which for minute accuracy of detail was unsurpassed in this country at the time. In 1847 he was charged with the construction of an iron light-house on Carysfort Reef, Florida, which was the largest light-house on the coast at the time. From 1849 until 1851 he was engaged in the Great Salt Lake expedition, his report of which gave him a wide reputation. In 1852 - 1853 he was engaged upon the lake harbors and in 1856 he was assigned to the charge of the military roads in Minnesota. He was appointed major on 28 September 1861 and at the time of his death he was mustering and disbursing officer at Madison, Wisconsin. Major Stansbury published An Expedition to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake of Utah. He died in Madison, Wisconsin April 17, 1863.
The image of Howard Stansbury as a Captain was supplied by the John N. McWilliams Collection and is used with permission of the Dr. William J. Schultz Collection. This is the only known image of Stansbury and is from a carte d'visite. The reverse side has a handwritten note of his death due "to disease contracted in the Rocky Mountains."