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Bailey, Liberty Hyde (15 March 1858–25 December 1954), horticulturist and botanist, was born near South Haven, in Van Buren County, Michigan, the son of Liberty Hyde Bailey, Sr., a farmer and fruit grower, and Sarah Harrison. From childhood he was interested in nature, observing and making collections of plants and animals in the fields near his home. During his school days he came upon copies of Charles Darwin’s ...

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Barbour, James (10 June 1775–07 June 1842), planter and politician, was born in Orange County, Virginia, the son of Thomas Barbour, a wealthy planter, and Mary Pendleton Thomas. Because his family suffered financial reverses during the Revolution, Barbour did not receive a college education. After preparatory study in rhetoric and the classics at a local academy, he apprenticed himself to a Richmond lawyer. In 1793, when he was only eighteen years old, he was admitted to the Virginia bar and began practicing law in Orange and neighboring counties. Two years later he married Lucy Johnson, daughter of a prominent local planter. They established a country seat at “Barboursville,” near Montpelier, where they raised five children....

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Bromfield, Louis (27 December 1896–18 March 1956), novelist, experimental farmer, and newspaper columnist, was born in Mansfield, Ohio, the son of Charles Bromfield, a banker and local Democratic office holder, and Annette Marie Coulter. His father was from an old New England family, and his mother was the daughter of a pioneer family of Richland County, Ohio; both ancestries would influence his later fiction. Bromfield attended Mansfield public schools, spending summers on his mother’s family’s farm. In 1914–1915 he studied agriculture at Cornell University and then briefly attended Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio. He then studied journalism at Columbia University until his enlistment in the U.S. Army Ambulance Service in June 1917. He served with Section 577, attached to the French army, from December 1917 to February 1919. He participated in seven major battles during World War I and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. He was discharged in June 1919 while still in France....

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Burbank, Luther (07 March 1849–11 April 1926), horticulturist, was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Walton Burbank, a farmer and brickmaker, and Olive Ross. Although Burbank’s family was of comfortable middle-class means, his formal schooling was modest, consisting of public school attendance until the age of fifteen, supplemented by part-time study during the next four winters at the Lancaster Academy. An important influence in his early life was his cousin Levi Sumner Burbank, who had been curator of geology at the Boston Society of Natural History and often took the youngster with him on local natural history excursions....

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Carroll of Carrollton, Charles (19 September 1737–14 November 1832), planter, businessman, investor, and the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, as well as the last of the signers to die, was born in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of Charles Carroll of Annapolis, a planter, and his common-law wife, Elizabeth Brooke. An only child, Carroll was sent at the age of ten to the Jesuit college of St. Omers, in French Flanders, where Maryland’s Catholic gentry sent their sons because the colony’s laws, which denied “papists” the right to vote, hold office, practice law, and worship publicly, also forbade them to maintain religious schools. Young Carroll studied abroad for sixteen years, ending with a thesis in philosophy at the college of Louis le Grand in Paris in 1757. After reading civil law in Bourges and Paris, he moved to London in September 1759 to pursue the common law at the Inns of Court. However, his antipathy for the discipline, which he regarded as “founded upon and still subsisting by villainy,” became so intense that he ultimately defied his father’s intention that he formally enter the Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court. Finding the paternal insistence on his acquiring the social graces more to his liking, he became adept at dancing, drawing, and fencing and mastered Italian, bookkeeping, and surveying, practical skills the elder Carroll deemed essential for success as a landowner and man of business....

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Carver, George Washington (1864–05 January 1943), African-American scientist and educator, was born in Diamond (formerly Diamond Grove), Missouri, the son of Mary Carver, who was the slave of Moses and Susan Carver. His father was said to have been a slave on a neighboring farm who was accidently killed before Carver’s birth. His mother was apparently kidnapped by slave raiders while he was very young, and he and his older brother were raised by the Carvers on their small farm....

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Clay, Laura (09 February 1849–29 June 1941), farm manager and women's rights leader, farm manager and women’s rights leader, was born at “White Hall,” her family’s estate, located between Lexington and Richmond, Kentucky, the daughter of Cassius M. Clay, a notable politician, emancipationist, and diplomat, and Mary Jane Warfield. Clay’s formal education was interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War, when the family accompanied her father to Russia, where he had been appointed U.S. minister. Returning to Kentucky in 1862, she attended Sayre School in Lexington, graduating in 1865. Aside from a year at a finishing school in New York City and brief stints of study at the Universities of Michigan and Kentucky, this completed her formal education. In 1873 she leased a 300-acre farm from her father and became its owner upon his death in 1903. Describing herself as a “practical farmer,” she skillfully managed this rich Bluegrass land, deriving from it her own livelihood and most of the finances for her long public career....

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Emerson, Gouverneur (04 August 1795–02 July 1874), physician, statistician, and agriculturalist, was born near Dover, Delaware, the son of Jonathan Emerson and Ann Bell, well-to-do farmers. After education at the Quaker Westtown School in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and the classical school of the Reverend Stephen Sykes in Dover, Emerson began the study of medicine in 1811 with Sykes’s physician brother James, also of Dover, and then entered the School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania in 1813. He was graduated in 1816, offering a dissertation on hereditary diseases. For two years Emerson practiced in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania; then in 1818 he went to Canton, China, as surgeon on a merchant vessel. He opened his practice in Philadelphia on 4 August 1820....

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Featherstonhaugh, George William (09 April 1780–27 September 1866), gentleman-farmer, scientist, and diplomat, was born in London, England, the son of George Featherstonhaugh, a manufacturer, and Dorothy Simpson, a shopkeeper. Educated at Stepney House, a private school near Scarborough, Featherstonhaugh spent his youth traveling in Europe and until 1804 was the commercial agent on the Continent for several British import-export firms. After two years working in the London office of Thomas Dickason & Co., Featherstonhaugh moved in 1806 to New York City, where he met Sarah Duane, daughter of a former mayor of New York and owner of a large estate near Schenectady. After their marriage in November 1808, they moved to a country mansion on the estate—now named “Featherston Park”—at Duanesburg, where Featherstonhaugh farmed 2,000 acres, concentrating on sheep and cattle breeding. He and Duane had two sons and two daughters....

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Fernow, Bernhard Eduard (07 January 1851–06 February 1923), pioneer professional forester in North America, was born in the province of Posen, Prussia (now Poland), the son of Eduard Fernow, who opted for law and government service rather than managing the family estate, and Clara Nordman, the second of Eduard’s three wives. In his youth Fernow spent time with his uncle, Frederick Edmund Fernow, who managed the family property which included a large forest holding. At age nineteen, following secondary school and before beginning his classroom studies at the Münden Forest Academy in the province of Hanover, Fernow spent a year in practical woods work with the Prussian forest department. His forestry education was interrupted in 1870 by military service as an army lieutenant during the Franco-Prussian War. Before graduating from forestry school he met Olivia Reynolds, a U.S. citizen who had accompanied her brother during his university studies in Germany. Olivia was hired to teach Fernow English. When they became engaged and left for the United States in 1876, his family, expecting him to follow in his uncle’s footsteps, was upset at his departure. The couple married in 1879 and subsequently had five children....