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Anderson, Joseph Reid (16 February 1813–07 September 1892), industrialist and Confederate soldier, was born in Botetourt County in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the son of William Anderson and Anna Thomas, farmers. Anderson received his early education in the local schools. After having been rejected twice, he entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1832 at age nineteen. Graduating fourth of forty-nine in 1836, he preferred a post in the elite Corps of Engineers but was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Third Artillery. Soon he was assigned to Fort Monroe, where he met his first wife, Sally Archer, daughter of the post physician, Dr. Robert Archer. They were married in the spring of 1837 and eventually had five children....

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Joseph R. Anderson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-2073).

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Baker, James (19 December 1818–15 May 1898), trapper, army scout, and early settler of Colorado and Wyoming, was born in Belleville, Illinois, and grew up near Springfield. His parents were of Scots-Irish ancestry from South Carolina. With little formal schooling but adept with a rifle, Jim Baker left home for St. Louis in 1838 and signed an eighteen-month contract with the American Fur Company. On 25 May 1838 the Rocky Mountain–bound party, led by ...

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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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Biddle, Clement (10 May 1740–14 July 1814), merchant and army officer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Biddle, a shipping merchant, and Sarah Owen. Biddle’s great-grandfather, who came to America in 1681, was one of the proprietors of West New Jersey. Biddle’s father moved from Mount Hope, New Jersey, to Philadelphia in 1730. Except for some interruption from his army service, Clement Biddle was a lifelong merchant whose family eventually achieved great prominence in Philadelphia. He formed a partnership early in life with his father called John & Clement Biddle. On 6 June 1764 Biddle married Mary Richardson, daughter of Francis Richardson of Chester, Pennsylvania. They had one child, Frances, who died in infancy; Biddle became a widower in 1773. On 18 August 1774 he took as his second wife Rebekah Cornell, daughter of Gideon Cornell, who at the time of his death in 1765 was lieutenant governor and chief justice of Rhode Island. Rebekah lived until 18 November 1831, having borne thirteen children, two of whom died in infancy. Nine children married into prominent families, as did their successors, and this Biddle branch became one of Philadelphia’s most powerful and wealthy families. Clement Biddle’s sister, Ann, married General ...

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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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Bridger, James (17 March 1804–17 July 1881), fur trapper and trader, explorer, and scout, was born in a tavern near Richmond, Virginia, the son of James Bridger, a surveyor and innkeeper, and Chloe Tyler, a barmaid. Bridger and his family moved in about 1812 to a farm near St. Louis, where, on being orphaned five years later, he became a blacksmith’s apprentice. In 1822 he responded to an advertisement calling for a hundred able-bodied young men to join a fur-trapping expedition, lasting from one to three years, up to the headwaters of the Missouri River. The organizers of the expedition were ...

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Buell, Don Carlos (23 March 1818–19 November 1898), soldier and businessman, was born near Marietta, Ohio, the son of Salmon D. Buell and Eliza (maiden name unknown), farmers. After his father’s death in 1823, the boy lived mostly in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, with an uncle, George P. Buell, who got him an appointment to West Point in 1837. Graduating in the lower half of his 1841 class, Buell was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Third Infantry. He served in the Seminole War and was promoted to first lieutenant on 18 June 1846. In November 1851 he married Margaret Hunter Mason, a widow. They had no children....

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Don Carlos Buell. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-9979).

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Burnham, Frederick Russell (11 May 1861–01 September 1947), explorer, scout, and miner, was born in Tivoli, Minnesota, the son of Reverend Otway Burnham, a Congregational minister and missionary, and Rebecca Russell. One family story has it that his mother left him among corn stalks for an entire day while their settlement was under an Indian attack during the 1862 war with the Sioux. Certainly not proven, this story has an interesting ring to it, since Burnham was to spend much of his life hiding or escaping from American Indians or South African peoples during his career as a scout....