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Reid, Mayne (04 April 1818–22 October 1883), author and soldier, was born Thomas Mayne Reid in Ballyroney, County Down, Ireland, the son of Thomas Mayne Reid, a Presbyterian minister, and his wife, whose maiden name may have been Rutherford. Reid studied at the Royal Academical Institution in Belfast from 1834 to 1838 in preparation for the ministry. He quit, opened a day school in Ballyroney, and taught there in 1838 and 1839. From this point on, details concerning Reid’s life are uncertain, because he boasted about himself, much of his fiction is wrongly regarded as autobiographical, and his widow’s biography of him is sometimes vague and inaccurate....

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Smith, James (1737–1814), soldier and author, was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Little is known of his parents and early life. Apparently he received no formal education, but he did learn a great deal about woodlore and life on the frontier. At the age of eighteen he was captured by American Indians while laboring to clear a road in western Pennsylvania and was adopted into one of their tribes. For four years he traveled with them through the old Northwest, then he managed to escape. Returning to his birthplace, he settled into a life of farming. In 1763 he married Anne Wilson, with whom he had seven children before she died twenty years later. He also became an active military campaigner, serving off and on from 1763 to 1769 as commander of the “Black Boys,” a self-appointed group of irregulars that protected white settlements in his region from Indian depredations. In 1764 he joined ...