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Blodget, Samuel, Jr. (28 August 1757–11 April 1814), entrepreneur, architect, and economist, was born in Goffstown, New Hampshire, the son of Samuel Blodget and Hannah White. The elder Blodget was a merchant, manufacturer, and canal builder, and also a visionary, having developed machinery for raising sunken ships. The son seems to have inherited the father’s versatility and visionary quality....

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De Witt, Simeon (25 December 1756–03 December 1834), cartographer, surveyor, and land developer, was born in Wawarsing, Ulster County, New York, the son of Andries De Witt, a physician, and Jannetje Vernooy. His early education was typical of what a scattered agricultural community could provide in that period. Later he received classical instruction from the local minister, and then, on the eve of the American Revolution, he enrolled at Queen’s College (later Rutgers University) in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He was granted a B.A. degree in 1776 and an M.A. degree in 1788....

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Filson, John (10 December 1753?–01 October 1788), author, historian, and land surveyor, was born in East Fallowfield Township near Brandywine Creek in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Davison Filson and Eleanor Clarke, farmers. After attending common schools in the vicinity of his birthplace, Filson studied Greek, Latin, mathematics, and surveying at West Nottingham Academy in Colora, Maryland. He inherited part of a modest estate following his father’s death in 1776, but, eschewing life on the farm, he taught school and surveyed lands in the area during the American Revolution....

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Putnam, Gideon (17 April 1763–01 December 1812), entrepreneur and developer, was born in Sutton, Massachusetts, the son of Stephen Putnam and Mary Gibbs (occupations unknown). He was a cousin of revolutionary war general Israel Putnam. Gideon Putnam married Doana Risley of Hartford, Connecticut (c. 1783), and moved to Vermont, where they established a farm at the present site of Middlebury College. Dissatisfied with the region, they moved to Rutland, Vermont, and then to Bemis Heights in New York. A major flood caused them to move once again, this time to Saratoga Springs, in 1789. Putnam leased 300 acres in the Kayaderosseras Patent from Derick Lefferts. Starting a farm, he also began to cut lumber and manufacture shingles and staves, which he shipped to New York City. By 1791 he had accumulated enough wealth to purchase the leased land and build a sawmill. A year later the mineral water source, subsequently named Congress Spring, was discovered by ...