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Averell, William Woods (05 November 1832–03 February 1900), Union general and businessman, was born in Cameron (Steuben County), New York, the son of Hiram Averell and Huldah Hemenway, farmers. Averell attended the U.S. Military Academy, graduating in 1855, twenty-sixth in a class of thirty-four, only excelling in horsemanship. He then served with the cavalry in the Southwest and was seriously wounded during a fight against the Navajos at Canyon de Chelly, New Mexico Territory (1858). He was in New York on convalescent leave when the Civil War began....

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William W. Averell. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1655).

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Bedinger, George Michael (10 December 1756–08 December 1843), soldier, legislator, and businessman, was born in York County, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry Bedinger and Magdalene von Schlegel, innkeepers. In 1737 his grandfather had moved to Pennsylvania from the vicinity of Strasbourg in Alsace-Lorraine. At the time of George Michael’s birth, the family name was spelled Biedinger and German was the language spoken at home. Late in life Bedinger was described by a contemporary as a “full blooded Virginia Dutchman.”...

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Benner, Philip (19 May 1762–27 July 1832), soldier, pioneer ironmaster, and entrepreneur, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry Benner and Dinah Thomas, farmers. For Philip Benner as for many of his generation, the American Revolution was the defining experience of his early life. When his father, a vocal patriot, was imprisoned by the British, Philip went to war in the Continental army wearing a vest in which his mother had quilted guineas in case of emergency. Benner fought as a private under the command of his relative General ...

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Connor, Patrick Edward (02 March 1820?–17 December 1891), soldier, entrepreneur, and politician, was born Patrick Edward O’Connor in County Kerry, Ireland. His exact birth date and the names of his parents are in question. As a teenager, he emigrated with his parents to New York City, where he probably briefly attended public school....

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Gridley, Richard (03 January 1711–21 June 1796), artilleryman, military engineer, and entrepreneur, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Captain Richard Gridley and his third wife, Rebecca, whose maiden name is uncertain. His father, a currier by trade and an active militia officer, died when young Richard was only three years old. In 1719 his widowed mother married Benjamin Landon, a Boston shopkeeper. After grammar school, Richard was apprenticed to a merchant. In 1731 he married Hannah Deming; they had nine children....

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Johnson, James (01 January 1774–13 August 1826), soldier, entrepreneur, and political leader, was born in Orange County, Virginia, the son of Robert Johnson, a frontier planter and political leader, and Jemima Suggett. Emigrating to Kentucky, the family experienced the dangers of frontier life. According to Leland W. Meyer’s description, during a battle with American Indians at Bryant’s Station (Lexington) in 1782, eight-year-old James extinguished fire arrows on cabin roofs while his mother led a group of women to resupply the station with water....

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Kane, Thomas Leiper (27 January 1822–26 December 1883), lawyer, soldier, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and defender of the Mormons, was born in Philadelphia, the son of John Kintzing Kane, a jurist, and Jane Duval Leiper. He attended school in Philadelphia and from 1839 to 1844 traveled in England and France, studying and visiting relatives. While in Paris he served for a time as an attaché of the American legation. Small in stature and never robust, he would spend most of his life struggling with ill health. In Paris he met Auguste Comte and others who surely encouraged his social conscience, which would be manifested later in his concern for philanthropic causes. In 1844 Kane returned to Philadelphia, where he studied law with his father. Although he was admitted to the bar in 1846 and clerked briefly for his father, who was a federal judge, his interests and activities generally moved in other directions....

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Lyon, Matthew (14 July 1749–01 August 1822), congressman, soldier, and entrepreneur, was born in Wicklow County, Ireland. Little information about Lyon’s parents has survived, and most of the information about Lyon’s youth is derived from the recollections of a grandson who read Lyon’s memoirs before they were mutilated by attic mice....

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Ogden, Aaron (03 December 1756–19 April 1839), soldier, public official, and entrepreneur, was born in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, the son of Robert Ogden II, a lawyer, and Phebe Hatfield. He attended the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) and graduated with the class of 1773. Over the next three years he taught school, first in Princeton, then in Elizabethtown, but with the outbreak of hostilities between Great Britain and its American colonies, he was quickly drawn into the revolutionary confrontation....