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Baker, Hugh Potter (20 January 1878–24 May 1950), forester and university administrator, was born in St. Croix Falls, Polk County, Wisconsin, the son of Joseph Stannard Baker, a land agent, and Alice Potter. His father was financially successful, and Baker grew up in surroundings that were physically comfortable and culture-filled. Both of his parents having attended college, Baker received his early schooling locally before entering Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he remained a year before transferring to Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University). He graduated with a B.S. in 1901, having also begun work in partnership with his brother, Fred Baker, in a part-time position at the federal Division of Forestry. This division, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was then run by pioneer forester and future governor of Pennsylvania ...

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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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Byrd, William (28 March 1674–26 August 1744), author, planter, and Virginia councilor, was born on his father’s plantation in Charles City County near Richmond, Virginia, the son of William Byrd, a planter and trader, and Mary Horsmanden Filmer. Byrd was sent at age seven to England to live with his maternal uncle, Daniel Horsmanden, and to attend Felsted Grammar School in Essex under the tutelage of its headmaster, Christopher Glasscock. Byrd became well grounded in the classics, and throughout his life he read Hebrew, Greek, or Latin almost daily. In 1690 Byrd’s father sent him to the Rotterdam, the Netherlands, to learn business methods with merchants Jacob Senserff and Johannes Texelius. Not liking this situation, Byrd persuaded his father to apprentice him to the mercantile firm of Perry and Lane in London. In 1692 Byrd entered the Middle Temple to study law and in April 1695 became a licensed attorney in England....

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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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Dabney, Charles William (19 June 1855–15 June 1945), educator, college president, and agrichemist, was born in Hampden-Sydney, Virginia, the son of Robert Louis Dabney, a Presbyterian theologian, and Margaretta Lavinia Morrison. His mother and father were both from prominent southern families, and his father served as chaplain to ...

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Fitch, Asa (24 February 1809–08 April 1879), entomologist, agriculturist, and historian, was born in Salem (Washington County), New York, the son of Asa Fitch, a physician and judge, and Abigail Martin. Fitch spent his childhood on the family farm, where he developed a fascination with natural history and a deep sense of religious conviction. He received a liberal education at academies in Salem, New York, and Bennington, Vermont, from 1822 to 1824, and in 1826 he entered the Rensselaer School (now Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), a new school for scientific education in Troy, New York. There he learned the importance of experimenting and learning by doing, and he became convinced that economic and social enrichment would result from the application of science to the common purposes of life. In 1826 he accompanied students and faculty on a scientific tour of the recently opened Erie Canal. Under the instruction of ...

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Garnett, James Mercer (08 June 1770–23 April 1843), congressman, agricultural reformer, and educator, was born at “Mount Pleasant” plantation, near present-day Loretto in Essex County, Virginia, the son of planters Muscoe Garnett and Grace Fenton Mercer. He was privately educated, and in 1793 married his first cousin, Mary Eleanor Dick Mercer. The couple had four daughters and four sons....

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Knapp, Seaman Asahel (10 December 1833–01 April 1911), college president and advocate for the improvement of southern agriculture, was born in Schroon Lake, Essex County, New York, the son of Bradford Knapp, a physician, and Rhonda Seaman. Following preparatory work at Troy Conference Academy, Poultney, Vermont, he enrolled at Union College, Schenectady, New York, in 1852 and graduated with honors in 1856. Three weeks later he married Maria Elizabeth Hotchkiss of Hampton, New York; the couple had five children. Knapp taught initially at Fort Edward Institute, Fort Edward, New York, where he soon became a junior partner in the administration of the institute. Then in 1863 he purchased half-interest in his alma mater, the Troy Conference Academy, known subsequently as Ripley Female College. In 1864 Knapp joined with eight other men to incorporate a business school specifically for young men, named Poultney Normal Institute....

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James R. Murie. Courtesy of the Nebraska State Historical Society.

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Murie, James Rolfe (1862–18 November 1921), teacher, farmer, and ethnographer, was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, the son of a Skiri Pawnee—the other Pawnee bands were the Pitahawirata, Kitkahahki, and Chawi—only known as Anna Marie. Shortly thereafter he was abandoned by his father, James Murie, a Scot captain in Major Frank North’s U.S. Army Pawnee scout battalion....