Born in Liberty County, son of John Stanton Howard, a member of the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and his wife, Georgia R. Wilkinson, grandson of Jacob and Martha Flowers Howard, and Henry and Martha Smith Wilkinson, great-grandson of George Howard, who migrated from South Carolina to Liberty County in 1812, and great-great-grandson of John Howard, an Englishman, who served under General Edward Braddock at Fort Duquesne.
Thomas Lee Howard married (1) Nicy Deloach, daughter of J.D. Deloach of Tattnall County, Georgia, and their one child was Esel N. Howard, and (2) Nannie Lou Bryant, daughter of SJ. and Mary Elizabeth Lynch Bryant of Eatonton, Georgia, in 1906, and their children were Winnie B., Mary Grace, Thomas Lee Jr., Hugh Dorsey, and Marjorie Howard.
He was a member of the Liberty County Board of Education, the Long County Board of Commissioners, a state representative, and a state senator. His residence was built by Joseph William Hughes Sr. in 1853. His son, Thomas Lee Howard Jr., a retired attorney, was residing in the home in 1984. Hugh Dorsey Howard was named for Governor Hugh Dorsey of Georgia, a close, personal friend of Thomas Lee Howard Sr.