Official county symbols

Howard County flag

Howard County flag graphicHoward County's official flag was chosen from among forty entries in a contest sponsored by The Central Maryland News. This winning entry was submitted by Jean O. Hannon (Mrs. Phillip A.) of Howard County and described as "a red and white design which incorporates part of the Maryland flag." Added to this, on the first quarterly, a sheaf of wheat in gold symbolizes the agricultural heritage of the County (The Ellicott and Carroll families were responsible for the agricultural change from tobacco to wheat which affected the entire County). In the fourth quarterly a green outline of the county is set in a triangle of gold symbolizing the unique position of Howard in the future development of the eastern seaboard.

Judges for the contest included the three County Commissioners, Harry T. Murphy, Alva S. Baker and Charles E. Miller; the two Circuit Court judges, James Macgill and T. Hunt Mayfield; the Superintendent of Schools, John E. Yingling; and the three legislators, Senator James Clark, Del. Hugh Burgess and Del. Edwin Warfield. The flag was presented to the Howard County Commissioners on September 19, 1968 and was raised on the flag pole in front of the Court House by Commissioner Murphy.

Howard County seal

color illustration of the county sealThe original Howard County seal dates from 1840, when the present county area was established as the Howard District of Anne Arundel County. A renowned seal designer of the times, Edward Stabler, was commissioned to produce a seal and press for the new court. His design included typical elements of the area: tobacco plants and a shock of wheat --important early crops; necessary farming implements, a plowed field, and rolling hills in the background.

When Howard became a full-fledged county in 1851, the pictorial design was copied and the encircling legend read; "Circuit Court for Howard County, Maryland." This second seal and the original press are still used in the office of the Clerk of the Court.

From time to time the plants in the foreground have been interpreted variously; a floral version may be seen in gold embroidery on former court room draperies now in the headquarters of the Howard County Historical Society. Vegetables are shown in a colored mosaic tile version on the wall of the County Council Hearing Room. In recent years the latter design was the official county seal.

In 1973, following proposed action of the County Council to amend the seal description, historic research disclosed much of the foregoing information, and a bill was introduced to make a new design based on the original Stabler seal. On the recommendation of a Historical Society committee headed by Mrs. Anita Iribe, who had done most of the original research on the background and who presented to the Council a colored interpretation of the Stabler design, the present seal was adopted in November, 1973. See Howard County Code, Section 22.101.

So the official County insignia now embodies a close copy of a design by the same noted man who prepared seals for, among others, the Smithsonian Institution and the U.S. Departments of State and Treasury. It includes examples of Howard County's fine agricultural heritage, executed in appropriate coloring.

Howard County bird

illustration of a goldfinch sitting on a thistle plantIn 1978, members of the Howard County Chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society requested that County Executive Edward L. Cochran designate the American Goldfinch (Spinas Tristisas Howard County's Official Bird. On May 23, 1978, the Howard County Council introduced legislation at the request of the County Executive and the Ornithological Society making the designation official. In doing so, the Council cited in the Resolution that "the goldfinch is highly visible throughout Howard County in its natural field habitat and is seen often during winter months at local home feeders throughout the County."

This illustration is the beautiful work of artist Jo Dye. A member of the Ornothological Society, Ms. Dye donated the original scratchboard drawing to hang in the lobby of the County Office Building in Ellicott City. There, the drawing reminded visitors of both the bird's beauty and official status in Howard County.

Howard County flower

photograph of a Queen Anne's Lace flowerIn a grassroots effort, Howard County Garden Clubs rallied behind the leadership of the Split Rail Garden Club to propose that Queen Anne's Lace be recognized as the official flower of the County.

August 6, 1984 the County Council at the request of County Executive J. Hugh Nichols, introduced legislation to designate Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) as Howard County's flower. On September 4th, 1984 the designation became official.

Queen Anne's Lace is a  familar wild flower in Howard County, blooming in the summer and the fall. It has white flowers, arranged in flat clusters at the ends of the stems with each flower radiating from the center in a lacy pattern. It is also known as Wild Carrot because of the shape of its leaves and Bird's Nest because of its appearance when the flower clusters close.