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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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Coker, David Robert (20 November 1870–28 November 1938), pioneering southern agribusinessman and rural reformer, was born in what later became the town of Hartsville in the so-called Pee Dee area of northeastern South Carolina. He was the third son born to James Lide Coker...

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Dickson, David (06 July 1809–18 February 1885), cotton planter and agricultural reformer, was born in Hancock County, Georgia, the son of Thomas Dickson and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown), farmers. Thomas Dickson was a Virginia revolutionary war veteran who migrated to southern Georgia. David spent his boyhood on his parents’ farm, where he received only a common school education. At age twenty-two Dickson began a successful fourteen-year career as a merchant in Sparta, Georgia. Coveting the social status reserved for planters, Dickson in 1845 purchased a farm of 266 acres; stocked it with slaves, livestock, and farm implements; and for a time abandoned his career in merchandising to become a full-time agriculturist. Because his soil was infertile, in 1846 he applied Peruvian guano, a fertilizer that had first become available in the United States the previous year, on some of his crops. The resulting improvement in crop yields was so dramatic that Dickson soon developed a new system of culture based on heavy usage of guano, in conjunction with deep plowing and shallow cultivation. When chemical fertilizers came on the market during the 1850s, Dickson empirically experimented with various mixtures of guano and chemicals until he found a combination that was very effective on his land. Dickson capitalized on his success by manufacturing and marketing his fertilizer throughout the Southeast....

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Hatch, William Henry (11 September 1833–23 December 1896), congressman and agricultural reformer, was born near Georgetown in Scott County, Kentucky, the son of Reverend William Hatch, a Campbellite minister, and Mary Adams. Educated in the public schools of Lexington, Hatch studied law for a year in Richmond, Kentucky, before securing admission to the bar in September 1854. He began his legal practice in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, but shortly thereafter he joined the stream of migration from Kentucky to Missouri and settled in Hannibal, where he practiced law and became active in politics as a Democrat. In 1855 he married Jennie L. Smith; they had one child before Jennie died in 1858. In 1861 he married Thetis Clay Hawkins; they had one child....

Article

Murray, William Henry David (21 November 1869–15 October 1956), politician and agricultural advocate, was born in Toadsuck, Texas, near Collinsville, the son of Uriah Dow Thomas Murray and Bertha Elizabeth Jones, poor farmers. He grew up in north central Texas, running away from home at the age of twelve. For the next seven years he worked as an agricultural laborer, attending public schools sporadically. After matriculating at College Hill Institute, a secondary school at Springtown, he became a public school teacher in Parker County. There he became an activist in the Farmers’ Alliance....