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Allen, Edward Tyson (26 December 1875–27 May 1942), forester and conservationist, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Oscar Dana Allen, a professor of analytical chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale, and Fidelia Roberts Totman. Educated in the public schools and privately by his father, Allen moved with his family first to California and later to Washington State, where they lived near Mount Rainier. He began work as a reporter for the ...

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Bennett, Hugh Hammond (15 April 1881–07 July 1960), soil conservationist and soil scientist, was born near Wadesboro in Anson County, North Carolina, the son of William Osborne Bennett and Rosa May Hammond, farmers.

Bennett earned a bachelor of science degree with an emphasis in chemistry and geology from the University of North Carolina in June 1903. At that time, the Bureau of Soils within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had just begun to make county-based soil surveys, which would in time be regarded as important American contributions to soil science. Bennett accepted a job in the bureau headquarters’ laboratory in Washington, D.C., but agreed first to assist on the soil survey of Davidson County, Tennessee, beginning 1 July 1903. The acceptance of that task, in Bennett’s words, “fixed my life’s work in soils.”...

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Borlaug, Norman Ernest (25 March 1914–12 September 2009), biologist, agronomist, and humanitarian, was born in Saude, Iowa, to grandchildren of Norwegian immigrants. He grew up on his family’s working farm, where he learned to fish, hunt, raise corn and oats, and tend livestock. His grandfather encouraged him to pursue education, so Norman left the family farm in 1933 to enroll in the University of Minnesota. His college years coincided with the depths of the Great Depression. To earn money, Borlaug left school in 1935 and found employment with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). In the CCC he saw the effect of starvation first hand, and this experience affected him deeply. Long before “food security” became a common phrase, Borlaug knew its significance. In 1937 he graduated with a B.S. in forestry from the College of Agriculture and secured a job with the United States Forest Service. In 1938 he married former classmate Margaret Gibson. The couple had three children....

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Callaway, Cason Jewell (06 November 1894–12 April 1961), business executive, agriculturist, and developer, was born in LaGrange, Georgia, the son of Fuller Earle Callaway and Ida Jane Cason. His father was the founder of Callaway Mills, Inc., a highly successful cotton processing firm. He attended Bingham Military School in Asheville, North Carolina, followed by one year at the University of Virginia. He enjoyed a successful year at Charlottesville, but his father decided that he needed skills training. Therefore, he enrolled at Eastman School of Business in Poughkeepsie, New York. Young Callaway was given responsibility for Valley Waste Mills, a division of his father’s Callaway Mills. At age twenty he organized Valley Waste Mills into a great commercial success as a pioneering recycling operation. His achievements gained his father’s attention as well as that of other top managers in the firm, since the waste division netted more than $1 million in profits during the three-year period just before U.S. entry into World War I....

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Heathcote, Caleb (06 March 1666–01 March 1721), merchant, manor lord, and Anglican activist, was born in Derbyshire, England, the son of Gilbert Heathcote, a trader in hides and iron who served as mayor of Chesterfield, England, and Anne Dickens. While living in England Heathcote became a merchant specializing in trade with New York, where he settled in 1692 after the woman to whom he was betrothed fell in love with his brother Samuel and married him instead....

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Jones, Buffalo ( January 1844–01 October 1919), frontiersman, rancher, and conservationist, was born Charles Jesse Jones in Tazewell County, Illinois, the son of Noah Nicholas Jones and Jane Munden; the exact date of his birth is unclear. His father often served as an election judge and reportedly once hired ...

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King, Roswell (03 May 1765–15 February 1844), builder, overseer, and manufacturer, was born in Windsor, Connecticut, the son of Timothy King and Sarah Anne Fitch, weavers. King’s parents were poor at his birth but prospered thereafter. The extent of his education is unknown, but some is presumed on account of his birth in New England, where schools were generally available, and to his writing ability. Like many New Englanders in the postrevolutionary period, he moved to the South. He settled in Darien, Georgia, in 1789 and married Catherine Barrington in 1792. The couple had nine children. In Darien, King became county surveyor, justice of the peace, justice of the county inferior court, and a member of the Georgia House of Representatives (1794–1795). Two brothers, Reuben and Thomas, also came to Darien after King. King and his brother Reuben entered into a partnership to tan leather and make shoes, with his brother doing the work and King apparently supplying the capital. Early in his stay at Darien, King was the builder of Thomas Spalding’s South End House on Sapelo Island, built of tabby....

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Littlefield, George Washington (21 June 1842–10 November 1920), cattle dealer, banker, and philanthropist, was born in Panola County, Mississippi, the son of Fleming Littlefield and Mildred Terrell Satterwhite White, plantation owners. At the age of nine he moved with his family to a 1,500-acre plantation on the Guadalupe River, north of Gonzales, Texas. A year after his father’s death in 1853, George’s mother inventoried the family’s holdings and divided them among her children. Consequently, George received five slaves, mules, horses, cattle, oxen, hogs, tools, and a carriage at the young age of twelve. After attending Baylor University in Independence, Texas, in 1857 and 1858, Littlefield returned to work on his mother’s expanding plantation. He then joined the Eighth Texas Cavalry, also known as Terry’s Texas Rangers, in August 1861. He fought as a lieutenant at Shiloh and as a captain in both Tennessee and Kentucky, most notably at the battle of Chickamauga. While returning to battle from a recruiting trip to Texas, Littlefield married Alice P. Tiller, whom he had known in Gonzales, in January 1863 in Houston. The couple had no children. He became major of his regiment, but while replacing a wounded lieutenant colonel at Mossy Creek, he sustained a life-threatening wound in December 1863. Acting on the advice of a surgeon, Littlefield resigned from service in late summer of the next year....

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Longworth, Nicholas (16 January 1782–10 February 1863), horticulturist and philanthropist, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Thomas Longworth and Apphia Vanderpoel. His grandfather, also named Thomas, was a Loyalist at the time of the Revolution, an allegiance that caused the considerable Longworth property to be confiscated. With nothing but an impressive wardrobe that included six coats with four pairs of silk and eight pairs of woolen breeches, Nicholas Longworth turned west to make his fortune, arriving in Cincinnati in May 1804, when it was little more than a village. After a short period of reading law in the office of Judge ...

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Walter Clay Lowdermilk. Courtesy of the National Archives (114G-90723).

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Lowdermilk, Walter Clay (01 July 1888–06 May 1974), soil scientist, geologist, soil conservation leader, and author, was born Walter Clay Lowdermilk in Liberty, North Carolina, the son of Henry Clay Lowdermilk, a businessman, lumberman, and rancher, and Helen Vashti Lawrence Lowdermilk. The family moved westward to Missouri, to Oklahoma, and finally to Arizona. Walter Lowdermilk graduated from the Park College Academy in Parkville, Missouri, in 1906 and then attended Park College (1908–1910). In 1910 he enrolled at the University of Arizona; after two years there he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, where he earned a B.S. degree in forestry (1914); a B.A. degree in geology (1915); and an M.A. degree, granted in abstentia (1922). While at Oxford he had an opportunity to study forestry in Germany. He also served on ...

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McFarland, J. Horace (24 September 1859–02 October 1948), printer, civic reformer, and rosarian, was born John Horace McFarland in McAlisterville, Pennsylvania, the son of George Fisher McFarland, a schoolteacher, and Adeline Dellicher Griesemer. Following the Civil War, the family moved to Harrisburg, where Horace’s father bought and operated the Riverside Nurseries, a large property along the Susquehanna River. When he was sixteen, McFarland started setting type for the ...

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Montgomery, Isaiah Thornton (21 May 1847–06 March 1924), African-American planter and founder of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, was born on the “Hurricane” plantation of Joseph Davis at Davis Bend, Mississippi, the son of Benjamin Montgomery, the plantation business manager and later a planter and owner of a mercantile store, and Mary Lewis. As a result of his father’s prominent position among the slaves, Montgomery was chosen at the age of nine or ten to serve as Davis’s personal secretary and office attendant. Davis, the older brother of Confederate president ...

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Gifford Pinchot Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-3906).

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Pinchot, Gifford (11 August 1865–04 October 1946), forester, conservationist, and governor of Pennsylvania, was born in Simsbury, Connecticut, the son of James Wallace Pinchot, a wealthy merchant, and Mary Jane Eno. Proud of his French ancestry, James W. Pinchot raised his family in a primly decorous but brilliant social environment steeped in French culture....

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Rodale, J. I. (16 August 1898–07 June 1971), health food publisher, was born Jerome Irving Cohen in New York City, the son of Michael Cohen, a capmaker and grocer, and Bertha Rouda. Both parents were Polish immigrants. Rodale studied at New York and Columbia Universities but did not earn any degrees. At age twenty he became an auditor for the Internal Revenue Service, and at twenty-one he moved to Pittsburgh, where he worked in a private accounting firm for three years. He wanted, however, for some vague reason that he never explained, to be a farmer and publisher. In 1920 he traveled to Kentucky on business and became enchanted with the Bluegrass State. “Being among farmers and in farm country I was more and more imbued with the ambition of some day having my own farm and riding to town with my children on a buck-board drawn by two trusty horses.”...

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Vanderbilt, George Washington (14 November 1862–06 March 1914), agriculturalist and philanthropist, was born at New Dorp, Staten Island, New York, the youngest of the eight children of William Henry Vanderbilt and Maria Louisa Kissam. His father, the son of “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt, inherited most of the Commodore's fortune, including railroads, and became president of the New York Central Railroad. Upon his grandfather's death in 1877, George Washington Vanderbilt received a bequest of $1 million. When George turned twenty-one, his father gave him another million. When his father died in 1885, young Vanderbilt inherited $5 million more and controlled the income from a $5 million trust fund. While his three brothers—...