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Bachman, John (04 February 1790–24 February 1874), clergyman and naturalist, was born in Rhinebeck, New York, the son of Jacob Bachman, a farmer, and Eva (surname unknown but probably Shop). During his boyhood on a farm in Rensselaer County, New York, Bachman developed a keen interest in natural history and read many books on the subject. Around 1803, after tutoring by the local Lutheran minister, Anton T. Braun, Bachman entered college, evidently somewhere in Philadelphia, but a severe attack of tuberculosis compelled him to leave before he earned a degree. While recuperating, Bachman decided to enter the Lutheran ministry, and by 1810, after briefly studying theology with Braun and then with another minister in the local area, he had returned to Philadelphia for advanced training. During that time he also taught school. Upon the death of Braun in 1813, Bachman assumed his former mentor’s pastorate. Soon troubled again by tuberculosis, he decided to move to a warmer climate and accepted a call from St. John’s Lutheran Church, in Charleston, South Carolina, where he assumed his duties early in 1815....

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Banister, John (1650– May 1692), clergyman and naturalist, was born at Twigworth in Gloucestershire, England, the son of John Bannister, a commoner, occupation unknown; his mother’s name is also unknown. He was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he received his B.A. in 1671 and M.A. in 1674. He stayed on at Magdalen as a clerk and then chaplain until 1678. At Oxford, Banister trained for the clergy and studied natural history, compiling the “Herbarium siccum Jo. Banister,” an unpublished herbal with 374 folios of pressed specimens from Oxfordshire, parts of which appeared in Robert Plot’s ...

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Gulick, John Thomas (13 March 1832–14 April 1923), missionary and naturalist, was born on Kauai Island, Hawaii, the son of Peter Johnson Gulick and Fanny Hinckley Thomas, Presbyterian missionaries. Primitive conditions made life difficult for the Gulick family. At the age of three Gulick contracted an inflammatory eye disease, and in an effort to protect his eyesight, he was often restricted to a darkened room until the age of five. For the rest of his life he suffered from impaired vision....

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Henry David Thoreau. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ61-361).

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Thoreau, Henry David (12 July 1817–06 May 1862), author and naturalist, whose surname is pronounced “thorough,” was born in Concord, Massachusetts, the son of John Thoreau, a merchant and pencil manufacturer of French ancestry, and Cynthia Dunbar, of Scottish background. He was the only one of the famed Concord authors to be a native of the town. Although he was raised in genteel poverty, Thoreau attended Concord Academy, a private school where his parents hoped he would receive a better education than the public schools could offer. His parents also did much to encourage his youthful interest in natural history. A shy child, he often preferred to keep to himself rather than play with others....