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Bingham, Anne Willing (01 August 1764–11 May 1801), leader of Philadelphia society during the Federalist period, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Thomas Willing, a wealthy importer and partner of Robert Morris (1734–1806), and Anne McCall, who oversaw Anne’s education. Anne studied literature, writing, French, music, drawing, and embroidery. Her childhood and youth were filled with social engagements shared with children of elite families, including her relatives the Byrds and the Shippens. Though her father refused to sign the Declaration of Independence and her family remained in occupied Philadelphia during the Revolution, they remained socially aloof from General ...

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Birch, John (28 May 1918–25 August 1945), Baptist missionary and military officer, was born John Morrison Birch in Landaur, India, the son of George S. Birch and Ethel Ellis Birch. Both parents were Methodist missionaries under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. George Birch was also an agricultural professor at Ewing Christian College, Allahabad, India, while Ethel Birch tutored English there and conducted women's Bible classes nearby. In 1920 the family returned to the United States. George Birch became a fruit farmer in Vineland, New Jersey, where John Birch first went to school. In 1930 the family, by then including seven children, moved to Rome, Georgia, where Birch attended high school. After graduating at the head of his class, he entered Mercer University; there, he deepened his religious convictions and evangelical passion and graduated magna cum laude in 1939. He completed a two-year course at the Bible Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, in one year and then left in July 1940 for China, sponsored by a World's Fundamentalist Baptist Missionary Fellowship....

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Blair, Eliza Violet Gist (1794–05 July 1877), newspaperwoman and political hostess, was born in either Virginia or in Bourbon County, Kentucky, the daughter of Nathaniel Gist, an Indian agent and planter, and Judith Cary Bell. Eliza’s father died in 1797, and a decade later her mother married ...

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See Rosie the Riveter

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Boone, Daniel (02 November 1734–26 September 1820), pioneer and early settler of Kentucky, was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, on what was then the western perimeter of English colonial settlement in America, the son of Sarah Morgan and Squire Boone, a weaver, land speculator, and farmer. Daniel Boone’s formal education is a much-disputed matter. He always insisted to his children that he never went to school a day in his life. A tale survives, however, that has young Daniel spiking his schoolteacher’s hidden bottle of whiskey with a potent tartar emetic. His older brother Samuel’s wife, Sarah Day, is said to have taught him the rudiments of the three R’s, but a glance at his letters confirms that he never mastered grammar and spelling. In 1750 Squire Boone moved his large family to the wild frontier country along the Yadkin River in North Carolina, and five years later Daniel, an accomplished backwoodsman, enlisted as a volunteer in the American militia to aid General ...

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Brady, Diamond Jim (12 August 1856–13 April 1917), businessman and cultural icon, was born James Buchanan Brady in New York City, the son of Daniel Brady, a saloonkeeper, and his wife, whose name is not recorded. After attending local schools until the age of eleven, he left home and became a bellboy at the nearby St. James Hotel. While working there he befriended John M. Toucey, an official with the New York Central Railroad, who offered Brady (by then fifteen) a job in the firm's baggage department. After a few months of moving baggage by day and studying bookkeeping, at Paine's Business College, by night, he became a ticket agent at the Central's Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx. In 1874 Brady became a clerk in the home office, and in 1877 he was promoted to the position of Toucey's chief clerk. It was here that Brady began to display his love of fine clothing and nightlife, personal indulgences that would characterize his later lifestyle....

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Brown, Margaret Tobin (18 July 1867–26 October 1932), social rights activist, philanthropist, actress, and Titanic survivor, social rights activist, philanthropist, actress, and Titanic survivor, popularly known as Molly Brown, was born Margaret Tobin in Hannibal, Missouri, the daughter of Irish immigrants. The real life of Margaret Tobin Brown has little to do with the myth of Molly Brown, a story created in the 1930s and 1940s that culminated in the 1960 Broadway hit ...

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Calamity Jane (01 May 1852–01 August 1903), legendary western woman, was born Martha Cannary in Princeton, Missouri, the daughter of Robert Cannary (also spelled Canary). Her mother’s identity is unknown. In 1865, enticed by news from the Montana gold fields, her father moved the family to Virginia City, Montana. After her mother died in 1866, the family settled in Salt Lake City. Following her father’s death in 1867, an adolescent but determined Calamity Jane traveled to Fort Bridger, Wyoming. From there she embarked upon the transient existence that would characterize her life in the West, especially in the Black Hills mining camps of South Dakota and Wyoming....

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Carson, Kit (24 December 1809–23 May 1868), mountain man, army officer, and Indian agent, was born Christopher Houston Carson in Madison County, Kentucky, the son of Lindsey Carson, a farmer and revolutionary war veteran, and Rebecca Robinson. In 1811 Lindsey Carson moved his family to Howard County, Missouri, to find “elbow room.” He died in 1818, hit by a falling limb while clearing timber from his land. Christopher enjoyed no schooling and never learned to read or write, other than signing his name to documents. In 1825 his mother and stepfather apprenticed him to David Workman, a Franklin, Missouri, saddler whom Kit described as a kind and good man. Nevertheless, he ran away because he found saddlemaking tedious and distasteful work and yearned to travel. Following in the footsteps of a brother and a half-brother who were in the Santa Fe trade, Carson joined a caravan as a “cavvy boy” (an assistant to the wrangler in charge of the horse and mule herd). Though not unsympathetic, Workman was obliged by law to advertise for his runaway. But he misleadingly suggested to readers of the ...

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Chang (11 May 1811–17 January 1874), and Eng (11 May 1811–17 January 1874), Siamese twins, were born in Meklong, Siam (now Thailand), the sons of Ti-eye, a Chinese-born fisherman, and Nok, who was half-Chinese and half-Malay. Chang and Eng were born connected at the chest by an armlike ligament of flesh that, later in their childhood, was pliable enough to allow the brothers to stand side by side. Since no one in the village had seen joined twins before, the brothers were looked upon with horror and suspicion. Some conjectured their birth was a portent of evil or a sign that the apocalypse would soon follow. Although people came from all around Siam to see the brothers, Nok treated the babies like all her other children and, fearing that separation would mean certain death for the twins, dismissed doctors who wanted to experiment with knives or hot wire. Overcoming normal childhood obstacles was doubly hard for Eng and Chang. Perhaps most difficult was learning to get along, as they were of different temperaments, with Chang lordly and volatile and Eng docile and mellow. In 1819 cholera killed their father and five of the twins’ seven siblings, and soon after the brothers were forced to work as fishermen and then as merchants to help support the surviving family. Becoming locally famous, Chang and Eng were summoned to appear before King Rama III in 1825, and two years later, at the request of the king, the twins accompanied a diplomatic mission to Cochin China (now Vietnam)....

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Churchill, Jennie Jerome (09 January 1854–29 June 1921), society hostess, wife of Lord Randolph Churchill, and mother of Winston Churchill, was born Jeanette Jerome in Brooklyn, New York, the second daughter of Leonard Jerome, a financier, editor, and sportsman, and Clarissa (Clara) Hall. Called Jennie after the popular singer Jenny Lind, Jennie’s childhood was marked by the wealth and tastes of her ambitious parents. Leonard made his fortune speculating in stocks and built his reputation supporting progressive causes within the Whig Party and later the Republican Party, serving as consul in Trieste from 1852 to 1853. From an early age, Jennie shared her father’s love of music and horses and was an accomplished pianist and rider all her life. Her education included attendance at an elite private school and piano lessons with Stephen Heller, a friend of Chopin’s. Despite their wealth, the Jeromes were never accepted among New York’s elite families, a slight felt deeply by Jennie’s mother. In 1867, after Leonard suffered a significant loss in the stock market, Clarissa moved to Paris with her three daughters. Jennie would never live in the United States again....

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Cody, William Frederick (26 February 1846–10 January 1917), frontiersman and entertainer, better known as “Buffalo Bill,” was born in Scott County, Iowa, the son of Isaac Cody and Mary Ann Bonsell Laycock. Cody’s father managed several farms and operated a state business in Iowa. In 1854 the family moved to the Salt Creek Valley in Kansas, where Cody’s father received a government contract to provide hay to Fort Leavenworth. After his father died in 1857, Cody went to work as an ox-team driver for fifty cents a day. Shortly thereafter, the firm of Majors and Russell hired him as an express boy. Cody attended school periodically, although his formal education ended in 1859 when he joined a party heading to Denver to search for gold. He prospected for two months without any luck. He arrived back in Kansas in March 1860 after a trapping expedition. He rode for a time for the Pony Express during its short lifetime (Apr. 1860–Nov. 1861). After the start of the Civil War he joined a group of antislavery guerrillas based in Kansas. Later the Ninth Kansas Volunteers hired him as a scout and guide. On 16 February 1864 Cody enlisted into Company F of the Seventh Kansas Volunteer Cavalry. He saw quite a bit of action in Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, and Kansas during his one year and seven months of duty. He was mustered out of the army as a private on 29 September 1865....

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Crockett, Davy (17 August 1786–06 March 1836), frontiersman, Tennessee and U.S. congressman, and folk hero, was born David Crockett in Greene County, East Tennessee, the son of John Crockett, a magistrate, unsuccessful land speculator, and tavern owner, and Rebecca Hawkins. John Crockett hired his son out to Jacob Siler in 1798 to help on a cattle drive to Rockbridge County, Virginia, and Siler tried forcibly to detain young Crockett after the completion of the job. The boy ran away at night, however, and arrived home in late 1798 or early 1799. Preferring to play hooky rather than attend school, he ran away from home to escape his father’s wrath. His “strategic withdrawal,” as he called it, lasted about thirty months while he worked at odd jobs and as a laborer and a wagon driver. When he returned home in 1802, he had grown so much that his family at first did not recognize him. He soon found that all was forgiven and reciprocated their generosity by working for a year to settle the debts that his father had incurred....

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Fitzgerald, John Francis (11 February 1863–02 October 1950), mayor of Boston and maternal grandfather of U.S. president John F. Kennedy and U.S. senators Robert F. Kennedy and Edward M. Kennedy, mayor of Boston and maternal grandfather of U.S. president John F. Kennedy and U.S. senators ...

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Fitzgerald, Zelda (24 July 1900–10 March 1948), wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, writer, and artist, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, writer, and artist, was born in Montgomery, Alabama, the daughter of Anthony D. Sayre, an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, and Minnie Buckner Machen. Zelda grew up in a privileged and secure home. As the baby of the family, she was indulged and spoiled as a child, and at a young age she began to develop eccentric, self-centered behavior. In 1909 she began studying ballet, which became a lifetime interest. Zelda was known as an excellent athlete, particularly in her habit of diving from high places on a dare. When she was seven, the family moved to 6 Pleasant Avenue in Montgomery, Zelda’s permanent home until her marriage....

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Jones, John Paul (06 July 1747–18 July 1792), revolutionary war naval officer and hero, was born John Paul in Kirkbean, Kirkcudbrightshire, on the southwestern coast of Scotland, the son of John Paul, a gardener, and Jean MacDuff. After attending the local Presbyterian school, he apprenticed at age thirteen to a shipowner at the nearby port of Whitehaven. His first ship made several voyages that carried provisions to Barbados, thence rum and sugar to Virginia, and returned to Whitehaven with tobacco. The postwar economic slump ended his apprenticeship and sent him briefly into the slave trade, which he called “abominable.” At twenty-one Paul was master and supercargo of a ship sailing out of Kirkcudbright to the West Indies. Returning to Scotland from Tobago, he was briefly jailed in 1770 on a charge of murder, for having flogged a sailor who later died. Exonerated, Paul became the master of a large West Indies trader out of London. Again he found trouble in Tobago: during a mutiny he killed a sailor in what he claimed was self-defense. Perhaps in fear for his life, he fled to Virginia in October 1773 and became “Mr. John Jones.”...

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Jorgensen, Christine (30 May 1926–03 May 1989), achieved fame by undergoing a surgical sex change, who was born George William Jorgensen, Jr., in New York City, the son of George William Jorgensen, a carpenter and building contractor, and Florence Davis Hansen. Born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx, where he attended local schools, Jorgensen was somewhat of a loner, particularly in high school, where he was sexually underdeveloped, less than five feet tall, and weighed less than 100 pounds. Underweight and probably underage, he was initially turned down for enlistment in the armed services after graduation. He worked briefly as a temporary photographer for Pathé News before being drafted into the U.S. Army in October 1945. After serving a little more than a year he was given an honorable discharge. Over the next several years he drifted from one failure to another. He tried unsuccessfully to get a studio job in Hollywood; failure led to his return to New York. For less than a semester, he attended Mohawk College in Utica, New York, on the G.I. Bill, after which he transferred to the Progressive School of Photography in New Haven, Connecticut. Still unemployed, in 1949 he entered the Manhattan Medical and Dental Assistant School, where he trained to become a lab technician....

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Longworth, Alice Lee Roosevelt (12 February 1884–21 February 1980), socialite and celebrity, was born in New York City, the daughter of Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), the twenty-sixth president of the United States, and Alice Hathaway Lee, a Boston socialite. An only child, Alice was two days old when her mother and her paternal grandmother died. Her father left her with his sister, Anna Roosevelt (Cowles), and went west to assuage his double loss. For the next two years, Alice saw her father only occasionally. In 1887 Theodore returned with his new wife, ...

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Maxwell, Elsa (24 May 1883–01 November 1963), international hostess, songwriter, and newspaper columnist, was born in a theater box during a touring company’s performance of Mignon in Keokuk, Iowa, the daughter of James David Maxwell, an insurance salesman and part-time journalist, and Laura Wyman. Her childhood was spent in a modest flat situated among the elegant homes on San Francisco’s Nob Hill. A disappointment there at age twelve may have influenced her later party giving. A neighbor, the wealthy senator ...