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Ames, Oliver (05 November 1807–09 March 1877), manufacturer and railroad promoter and official, was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the son of Oliver Ames, a pioneer manufacturer, and Susanna Angier. Early in his childhood the family returned to their home in North Easton, twenty miles south of Boston. Ames attended the local schools and also became an adept worker in his father’s shovel works. At the age of twenty-one, having been temporarily disabled by a severe fall, he entered Franklin Academy at North Andover, Massachusetts. He was interested in debating clubs and intended to ultimately study law....

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Mason, William (02 September 1808–21 May 1883), inventor and manufacturer, was born in Mystic, Connecticut, the son of Amos Mason, a blacksmith, and Mary Holdredge. At age six he moved with his family to Stonington. Seven years later he went to work as an apprentice spinner in a cotton mill in nearby Canterbury, and at age sixteen he moved to Lisbon, Connecticut, where he worked in a textile factory as an operator and mechanic. He became so adept at repairing machinery that a year later his employer put him in charge of setting up the machinery in a new cotton mill in East Haddam. On his return to Lisbon, he worked in the mill’s machine shop until his apprenticeship was completed in 1828....

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Merrick, Samuel Vaughan (04 May 1801–18 August 1870), manufacturer and railroad pioneer, was born in Hallowell, Maine, the eldest son of John Merrick, a Unitarian minister and author, and Rebecca Vaughan. His father, who came from England in 1798, provided Merrick with a rich cultural environment in which to develop. He attended Hallowell schools and in 1816 left Maine to work for his bachelor uncle, ...