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Herreshoff, Nathanael Greene (18 March 1848–02 June 1938), steam engineer and yacht designer, was born in Bristol, Rhode Island, the seventh of nine children of Charles Frederick Herreshoff (pronounced Herr-es-off, with the stress on the first syllable), a gentleman farmer whose paternal grandfather had emigrated to Rhode Island from Prussia in 1787, and Julia Ann Lewis. Herreshoff escaped the disease that early blinded five of his siblings. But when his consumingly ambitious older brother John Brown Herreshoff became blind at age fourteen, Herreshoff was compelled to assist him in his sailing and boat-building endeavors. By twelve he was a proficient draftsman and boat modeler as well as a skilled yacht racing helmsman and navigator. By the time he graduated from high school (1865), he was playing an important role in the design of small craft being built at his brother’s newly formed Herreshoff & Stone boat works....

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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.”...