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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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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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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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London, Jack (12 January 1876–22 November 1916), writer, war correspondent, and agronomist, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Flora Wellman and, allegedly, William Henry Chaney, a reformer and professor of astrology. Chaney separated from his common-law wife when he learned of her pregnancy, angrily denying his paternity and later insisting (in two 1897 letters written in response to London’s inquiries) that he had been impotent at the time of the child’s conception. Wellman nevertheless named her son “John Griffith Chaney” on his birth certificate....

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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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Mapes, James Jay (29 May 1806–10 January 1866), chemist and writer, was born in Maspeth, New York, the son of Jonas Mapes, a merchant and importer, and Elizabeth Tylee. While at a boarding school on Long Island, Mapes lived for a time with the English reformer William Cobbett. As a scientist, however, he was largely self-taught....

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Patrick, Marsena Rudolph (11 March 1811–27 July 1888), soldier and agriculturalist, was born in Houndsfield, near Watertown, New York, the son of John Patrick and Miriam White, moderately wealthy farmers. Patrick’s mother was a deeply devout Christian who imposed her beliefs too strictly for his liking, so at age ten he ran away from home. A resourceful lad, he worked as a canal boat driver on the Erie Canal, taught school, and for a brief period studied medicine. He managed to make some influential friends, including General ...

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Ruffin, Edmund (05 January 1794–17 June 1865), agricultural reformer and southern nationalist, was born in Prince George County, Virginia, the son of James River planter George Ruffin and Jane Lucas. As a consequence of the early demise of his parents and the absence of siblings near his own age, Ruffin grew up in an atmosphere of emotional isolation. He became a voracious reader, digesting, for example, all of Shakespeare’s plays before reaching the age of eleven. He also developed a fierce sense of independence and a determination to control his own destiny. During these formative years Ruffin was profoundly influenced by Thomas Cocke, who became his legal guardian following the death of his father in 1810 and remained his closest friend for the next thirty years. Ruffin enrolled in the College of William and Mary shortly before his father’s death but withdrew after little more than a year of study. During his brief residence in Williamsburg, he formed an amorous attachment to a local belle, Susan Hutchings Travis, whom he married in 1813. After six months’ service as a militia private during the War of 1812, Ruffin returned home to claim his inheritance, a 1,600-acre farm at Coggin’s Point on the south side of the James River, bequeathed to him by his grandfather. There, in company with the bride who would bear him eleven children within a span of eighteen years, Ruffin embarked upon a career as a gentleman-farmer....

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Waring, George Edwin, Jr. (04 July 1833–29 October 1898), agriculturist, author, and sanitary engineer, was born at Poundridge, New York, the son of George Waring, a farmer and merchant, and Sarah Burger. Much of his youth was spent in Stamford, Connecticut, where his father had become a manufacturer of agricultural implements and stoves. The boy’s formal schooling was completed at Bartlett’s School in Poughkeepsie, New York, from which he graduated in 1849. Following this, he worked for a time in a retail hardware store and then as manager of a grist mill....