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Bidwell, John (05 August 1819–04 April 1900), California pioneer, agriculturalist, and politician, was born on a farm in Chautauqua County, New York, the son of Abram Bidwell and Clarissa Griggs, farmers. The family moved to Pennsylvania and then Ohio. John was bookish, although he had only three winter months of schooling each year, at best. But he walked 300 miles to attend Kingsville Academy in 1836 and, after a year, was elected its principal. He returned home to teach, then went to Missouri to farm. There, a western trader told him of fertile California, a land of perpetual spring. So he helped organize a western emigration society....

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Bush, George Washington (1790?–05 April 1863), pioneer, farmer, and cattleman, was born probably in Pennsylvania or Louisiana. His mother was Scotch-Irish, his father perhaps East Indian; little is known of Bush’s birth and ancestry. He may have been born as early as 1770. However, that would have made him seventy-four by the time he came to Oregon in 1844. Oral tradition among the family gives the date as 1779....

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Chapman, John (26 September 1774–10 March 1845), pioneer nurseryman and folk hero, known as “Johnny Appleseed,” was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel Chapman, a farmer and carpenter, and Elizabeth Simons (or Simonds). No authenticated account of Chapman’s childhood has come to light. It is likely, however, that he began to develop his remarkable woodsman’s skills during his childhood and youth along the Connecticut River near Longmeadow, Massachusetts, to which the family had moved following his father’s remarriage. As a young man, Chapman established an appletree nursery along the Allegheny Valley (1797–1798) in northwestern Pennsylvania. From there he gradually extended his operations into central and northwestern Ohio and then into eastern Indiana....

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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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Robinson, Solon (21 October 1803–03 November 1880), author, agricultural journalist, and Indiana pioneer, was born in Tolland, Connecticut, the son of Jacob Robinson, a farmer and cooper, and Salinda Ladd. His father died when Solon Robinson was about six, and then his mother married James Robinson, one of her deceased husband’s cousins. After his mother died and her second husband refused further responsibility for his stepchildren, Solon Robinson was in the care of William Bottom. He worked on his guardian’s farm, got a little education in a country school near Lisbon, Connecticut, and briefly worked as a carpenter’s apprentice, which was harder labor than his health could stand. In 1818, for unknown reasons, Solon successfully petitioned that Vine Robinson, an uncle in Brooklyn, Connecticut, be his guardian. Solon’s later devotion to temperance may have been learned from his uncle, but little more is known about the next few years of his life....

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Wilbarger, John Wesley (12 March 1812–? Feb. 1892), farmer, minister, and author, was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, the son of John Wilbarger and Anne Pugh, farmers. In 1823 the family moved to Pike County, Missouri, where he continued his schooling, fulfilling the desire of his frontier parents that he master the English language. There, he and Lucy Anderson were married on 26 May 1836, less than a month before the Battle of San Jacinto assured the independence of Texas....

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Winchester, James (06 February 1752–26 July 1826), soldier, planter, and pioneer, was born in Carroll County, Maryland, the son of William Winchester, a surveyor, and Lydia Richards. As a youth he learned his father’s trade and was widely respected for his skill and industry. He enlisted as a private in the Continental army in 1776 and rose to the rank of captain. Wounded, captured, and imprisoned briefly by the British, he served to the war’s end and was a leader in the organization of the Society of the Cincinnati....

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Wolfskill, William (20 March 1798–03 October 1866), frontiersman, trader, and rancher, was born in Boonesborough, Madison County, Kentucky, the son of Joseph Wolfskill, Jr., and Sarah Reid, farmers. In late 1809 the family moved to Boone’s Lick, Howard County, Missouri. William was sent back to Kentucky in 1815 to attend school for two years and then returned to Missouri, where he remained. In May 1822 he joined William Becknell’s second Santa Fe trade expedition. In New Mexico, Wolfskill and fellow Kentuckian ...