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Bennett, John Cook (03 August 1804–05 August 1867), physician, religious leader, and entrepreneur, was born in Fair Haven, Bristol County, Massachusetts, the son of John Bennett, a shipowner, and Abigail Cook. At his father’s death in 1817, he moved with his mother to Ohio to stay with relatives. In 1825, after a three-year apprenticeship with a physician and an oral examination by an Ohio medical society, Bennett received his M.D. and a license to practice. That year he married Mary Barker; they had three children. There is no evidence supporting his claim to have attended Ohio University or McGill College in Montreal; he did, however, become a Freemason in 1826....

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Stearns, Abel (09 February 1798–23 August 1871), California pioneer merchant and ranchero, California pioneer merchant and ranchero, was born in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, the son of Levi Stearns and Elizabeth Goodrich (occupations unknown). When his parents died within three months of each other in 1810, Stearns went to sea and rose from merchant sailor to supercargo before acquiring his own trading schooner in 1822. By then, a failed marriage to Persis (maiden name unknown) between 1817 and 1820 had resulted in the birth of a child in 1819. In the meantime, Stearns traveled to the East and West Indies, China, and South America before abandoning the sea, the United States, and apparently his own child in 1826. Settling in Mexico City, Stearns became a naturalized Mexican citizen in 1828 and moved to Monterey, California, the following year....

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Vann, Joseph (1800–26 October 1844), Cherokee leader, planter, and businessman, was born in the Cherokee Nation (in what is now Murray County, Ga.), the son of James Vann, a Cherokee leader, and Margret Scott. Vann, known as “Rich Joe,” has often been confused with his cousin and contemporary Joseph Vann (1798–1877). As was common among nineteenth-century Native American leaders, Vann had white and Cherokee ancestors. His father, a wealthy Cherokee of mixed blood, left his son much of his wealth when he died in 1809, including a large plantation, many black slaves, and a handsome federal house at Spring Place, Georgia. Vann continued to live at Spring Place until the Cherokee removal began in the 1830s. The house, which was built in 1804, was later designated a state historic site. In addition to his landholdings and slaves, Vann owned a ferry and engaged in various business ventures. He married Jennis Springston (date unknown); they had at least five children....