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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 ...

Article

Bomford, George (1780–25 March 1848), soldier, was born in New York City. Little information about his parents is known other than that his father was a military officer during the American Revolution, though it is not clear on which side. George officially became a cadet of the U.S. Military Academy on 24 October 1804, one of a class of three. He graduated only eight months later, on 1 July 1805, and was appointed second lieutenant of engineers. He received promotion to first lieutenant on 30 October 1806 and to captain 23 February 1808....

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Carson, Kit (24 December 1809–23 May 1868), mountain man, army officer, and Indian agent, was born Christopher Houston Carson in Madison County, Kentucky, the son of Lindsey Carson, a farmer and revolutionary war veteran, and Rebecca Robinson. In 1811 Lindsey Carson moved his family to Howard County, Missouri, to find “elbow room.” He died in 1818, hit by a falling limb while clearing timber from his land. Christopher enjoyed no schooling and never learned to read or write, other than signing his name to documents. In 1825 his mother and stepfather apprenticed him to David Workman, a Franklin, Missouri, saddler whom Kit described as a kind and good man. Nevertheless, he ran away because he found saddlemaking tedious and distasteful work and yearned to travel. Following in the footsteps of a brother and a half-brother who were in the Santa Fe trade, Carson joined a caravan as a “cavvy boy” (an assistant to the wrangler in charge of the horse and mule herd). Though not unsympathetic, Workman was obliged by law to advertise for his runaway. But he misleadingly suggested to readers of the ...

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Kit Carson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107570).

Article

Folsom, Nathaniel (18 September 1726–26 May 1790), merchant and soldier, was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, the son of Jonathan Folsom and Anna Ladd Foster, farmers. When Folsom was fourteen his father died. He was apprenticed to a trade but later became a merchant and, with two partners, began his own trading firm. He had no formal or academic education....

Article

Harney, William Selby (22 August 1800–09 May 1889), soldier, was born in Haysborough, Tennessee, the son of Thomas Harney, a merchant and surveyor, and Margaret Hudson. Harney was first home educated and later received advanced schooling at Cumberland College. He began his U.S. Army career in 1818 when he was commissioned second lieutenant. Harney was an ambitious, daring, and impulsive officer, traits that would both help and hinder his military career....

Article

Pomeroy, Seth (20 May 1706–19 February 1777), soldier and gunsmith, was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, the son of Ebenezer Pomeroy and Sarah King. The Pomeroy family had come to America in 1630 and had long played an important part in the development of Northampton, the central township of western Massachusetts. The men of the Pomeroy family had been drawn to the gunsmith and blacksmith trades, and Seth Pomeroy was no exception to this proclivity. He joined the local militia at an early age and soon showed signs of becoming a solid citizen of the Northampton community. He married Mary Hunt in 1732. The couple eventually had nine children, eight of whom would live to maturity....