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Bowdoin, James (07 August 1726–06 November 1790), scientist and statesman, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of James Bowdoin, a wealthy Boston merchant of French Huguenot origins and a member of the Massachusetts Council, the upper house of the General Assembly, and his second wife, Hannah Portage. Young James Bowdoin was educated at Boston Latin School and graduated from Harvard College in 1745. At his father’s death in 1747 he inherited a fortune valued at over £80,000 sterling. Independently wealthy, he lived luxuriously on his income from bonds, loans, rentals, and real estate holdings in Maine. In 1748 he married Elizabeth Erving, daughter of John Erving, a Boston merchant. The couple had two children....

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Cornell, Alonzo Barton (22 January 1832–15 October 1904), businessman and governor of New York, was born in Ithaca, New York, the son of Ezra Cornell, the capitalist and founder of Cornell University, and Mary Ann Wood. At the age of fifteen Cornell withdrew from the Ithaca Academy, left home, and moved to Troy, New York, where he worked as a telegrapher. From there he moved to Montreal, Quebec, then to Buffalo, New York, and Cleveland, Ohio, to take various managerial jobs with telegraph companies. In 1851 Cornell returned to Ithaca, where he worked as an officer of the Tompkins County Bank. The following year he married Elen Augusta Covert. In 1855 he moved to New York City to take a job as a telegraph manager on Wall Street....

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Forbes, Stephen Alfred (29 May 1844–13 March 1930), ecologist, state entomologist of Illinois, and chief of the Illinois Natural History Survey, was born in a log cabin in Silver Creek, Illinois, the son of Isaac Forbes, a farmer, and Agnes Van Hoesen. While enduring economic hardships common to pioneer families on the prairies, the Forbes family suffered further misfortune when Stephen was ten. With his mother already in poor health, Stephen’s father died, forcing older brother Henry to assume responsibility for the farm and the rearing of Stephen and his younger sister, Nettie. Stephen attended the district school until he was fourteen, studied under Henry’s instruction for two years, and briefly attended a college preparatory school until the family ran out of financial resources....

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Grant, James Benton (02 January 1848–01 November 1911), metallurgist and governor of Colorado, was born in Russell County, Alabama, the son of Thomas McDonough Grant, a physician and owner of a plantation on the Chattahoochee River, and Mary Jane Benton. Both of his parents were natives of Halifax County, North Carolina. Grant’s grandfather was a member of the Highland clan of Grants who, after having fought in the Battle of Culloden, were transported as rebellious subjects to North Carolina in 1746. Grant’s father Thomas, after receiving an education in medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Charleston, South Carolina, migrated to Alabama to practice medicine and farm. Meanwhile, Grant’s uncle, James Grant, who would play an important role in his life, migrated to frontier Chicago, Illinois, where he began practicing law in 1833....

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Hartness, James (03 September 1861–02 February 1934), inventor, business leader, and governor, was born on a farm near Schenectady, New York, the son of John Williams Hartness, a mechanic, and Ursilla Jackson. In 1863 the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Hartness’s formal education ended after elementary school. The Hartness family lived a comfortable life in Cleveland, as Hartness’s mother doted on her three surviving sons while his father succeeded as a foreman and then superintendent....