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Ericsson, John (31 July 1803–08 March 1889), inventor and engineer, was born in Langbanshyttan, province of Wermland, Sweden, the son of Olof Ericsson, a mine proprietor and inspector, and Brita Sophia Yngstrom. His earliest education was instruction by his parents and private tutors. John often spent his days drawing and building models of the machinery in his father’s mine. His father was well educated, but John’s strong character traits were attributed to the influence of his mother. Sweden’s war with Russia ruined John’s father financially, but he was able to secure a position as an inspector on a canal project and to obtain appointments for his two sons as cadets in the Corps of Mechanical Engineers. Thus at age thirteen John began his first formal education, and his natural aptitudes for mechanical drawing and solving engineering problems were encouraged and developed....

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Haupt, Herman (26 March 1817–14 December 1905), railway engineer, inventor, author, and administrator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jacob Haupt, a businessman of modest attainments, and Anna Margaretta Wiall, the proprietor of a small dry goods store. Herman attended several private schools in Philadelphia, but in 1827 his father, suffering from poor health, gave up the grocery store he then owned and moved to Woodville, New Jersey. Jacob Haupt died the next year, leaving his widow in straitened circumstances; Herman, the eldest of six children, was only eleven years of age. Two years later Herman Haupt’s congressman, John B. Sterigere, offered to help the boy gain admission to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He received a presidential appointment in 1830, but his entry was deferred for a year because of his youth. Unhappy with the strict upbringing he had received from his father, he was very uncertain about subjecting himself to the hard discipline of the academy, but his mother prevailed....

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Isherwood, Benjamin Franklin (06 October 1822–19 June 1915), marine engineer, was born in New York City, the son of Benjamin Isherwood, a physician, and Eliza Hicks. His father died soon after the boy was born, and his mother married a civil engineer, John Green, in 1824. In 1831 Isherwood enrolled in Albany Academy, an exacting preparatory school that emphasized “mechanical pursuits” (Sloan, p. 6). At age fourteen, in his final school year, Isherwood was expelled for unspecified “serious misconduct.”...

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Loring, Charles Harding (26 December 1828–05 February 1907), naval officer and engineer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of William Price Loring and Elizabeth Harding. Charles had an elementary public school education and began working as a machine shop apprentice. However, he finished first among fourteen on competitive examinations and joined the navy on 26 February 1851. As the U.S. Navy became increasingly dependent on steam-propelled warships and with the American Civil War on the horizon, his engineering experience was a valuable asset. In 1852 he married Ruth Malbon; the couple had one daughter....

Article

Shreve, Henry Miller (21 October 1785–06 March 1851), steamboat captain, army engineer, and steamship designer, was born in Burlington County, New Jersey, the son of Israel Shreve and Mary Cokely, farmers. During the American Revolution British forces had destroyed the Shreve home, so Shreve’s father took his family to the frontier in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, when Henry was about three years old....