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Aiken, D. Wyatt (17 March 1828–06 April 1887), agricultural editor and congressman, was born David Wyatt Aiken in Winnsboro, South Carolina, the son of David Aiken, a merchant and planter, and Nancy Kerr. Descended from an Irish family that had prospered in the United States, Aiken received an excellent education at Mount Zion Institute in his hometown and, as was common for the sons of planters, attended South Carolina College. He graduated in 1849 and taught mathematics for two years at Mount Zion. After traveling to Europe in 1851, he returned home to marry Mattie Gaillard in 1852. Before her death in 1855, they had two children. Aiken married Virginia Carolina Smith in 1857; they had eleven children. The following year he purchased a plantation from the estate of Virginia’s father in Cokesbury, Abbeville District. As the proprietor of “Coronaca” plantation, he became involved in the agricultural reform movement and in states’ rights politics. He fervently believed that “agriculture climbs high in the scale of science: it develops thought, matures judgment, and requires for the execution, untiring energy, perseverance, and industry.” He was instrumental in the formation of the Abbeville Agricultural Society and was a member of its executive committee. In 1858 he attended the Southern Commercial Convention in Montgomery, Alabama, a meeting that quickly became a forum for disunionist politics....

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Cobb, Cully Alton (25 February 1884–07 May 1975), agricultural educator, editor, and publisher, was born in a log cabin on the farm of his paternal grandfather near Prospect, Tennessee, the son of Napoleon Bonaparte Cobb, a farmer and rural minister, and Mary Agnes Woodward. Cobb attended public school in Giles County, Tennessee, and Decatur, Alabama. He entered Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Mississippi State University) in 1904 and graduated in 1908 with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture. From 1908 to 1910 he served as principal of Chickasaw County Agricultural High School at Buena Vista, Mississippi. The first of fifty such institutions established in the state between 1908 and 1920, the school afforded rural youths a college-preparatory education as well as practical training in farming. In 1910 he married Ora May “Byrdie” Ball, with whom he had two children....

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Dymond, John (03 May 1836–05 March 1922), planter, publisher, and politician, was born in Canada (exact location unrecorded), the son of Richard Dymond, a Methodist minister, and Anne Hawkens. During his early childhood Dymond’s family moved to Zanesville, Ohio, where he was educated in the local public schools and the Zanesville Academy before entering Bartlett’s College, a business school in Cincinnati. Following his graduation from Bartlett’s in 1857 he took a job as a clerk with his father, who had by that time established himself in the mercantile trade. He then toyed with the cotton manufacturing business in partnership with Homer White (trading under the name White & Dymond) before moving to New York City, where, on the eve of the Civil War, he took a job as a traveling salesman with a firm whose name has not survived. He returned to Zanesville on 3 June 1862 to marry Nancy Elizabeth Cassidy; they had six children....

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Heard, Dwight Bancroft (01 May 1869–14 March 1929), investment banker, farmer, and publisher, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Leander Bradford Heard, a wholesale grocer, and Lucy Bancroft. His father died in 1882. After Heard finished high school in Brookline, Massachusetts, his mother moved the family to Chicago, where Heard began work at the hardware sellers Hibbard, Spencer & Bartlett. The wife of the firm’s president, Adolphus Bartlett, was a distant relative of Heard, who quickly became Bartlett’s protégé. Heard was the company’s specialist in credit sales in Wisconsin and much of the Midwest. In 1893 he married Maie Pitkin Bartlett, Adolphus Bartlett’s daughter; they had one child....

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James J. Mapes. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109830).

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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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Rodale, J. I. (16 August 1898–07 June 1971), health food publisher, was born Jerome Irving Cohen in New York City, the son of Michael Cohen, a capmaker and grocer, and Bertha Rouda. Both parents were Polish immigrants. Rodale studied at New York and Columbia Universities but did not earn any degrees. At age twenty he became an auditor for the Internal Revenue Service, and at twenty-one he moved to Pittsburgh, where he worked in a private accounting firm for three years. He wanted, however, for some vague reason that he never explained, to be a farmer and publisher. In 1920 he traveled to Kentucky on business and became enchanted with the Bluegrass State. “Being among farmers and in farm country I was more and more imbued with the ambition of some day having my own farm and riding to town with my children on a buck-board drawn by two trusty horses.”...

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Vick, James (23 November 1818–16 May 1882), publisher of horticultural journals and mail-order seed merchant, was born in Chichester, England, the son of James Vick and Elizabeth Prime. His father, whose principal occupation is unknown, is reported to have been an enthusiastic amateur gardener; Vick’s English boyhood is otherwise obscure. He moved to New York City with his parents in 1833, learned the printing trade, and worked on publications including the ...