There are three main characters in Keepers of the House. They are William, Margaret, and Abigail. William descended from a long line of ancestors with each generation bearing the name of William Howland. The first, William Marshall Howland, claimed the land on which the Howland plantation was built. He was originally from Tennessee, but roamed the south after being discharged in 1815 from the American War against the British. He did not have a close relationship with his family and was not inclined to return to the land of his birth.