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Ammen, Daniel (16 May 1819–11 July 1898), naval officer, author, and inventor, was born in Brown County, Ohio, the son of David Ammen and Sally Houtz, farmers. While still a boy, Ammen exerted an unanticipated influence on later national affairs when he pulled his friend and schoolmate ...

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Brooke, John Mercer (18 December 1826–14 December 1906), naval officer, scientist, and inventor, was born at Fort Brooke, Tampa Bay, Florida, the son of George Mercer Brooke, a brevet brigadier general in the U.S. Army, and Lucy Thomas. His Brooke forebears had been prominent in affairs of the state of Virginia since the late seventeenth century. Brooke’s family moved frequently before he accepted an appointment as acting midshipman at age fourteen. His irregular formal education included a short stint at Aaron’s School in Burlington, New Jersey. His scientific education continued in the navy. Brooke served briefly aboard the warship USS ...

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Davison, Gregory Caldwell (12 August 1871–07 May 1935), naval officer and inventor, was born in Jefferson City, Missouri, the son of Alexander Caldwell Davison, a physician, and Sarah Pelot Eppes. In 1888 he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and graduated with the class of 1892....

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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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Fiske, Bradley Allen (13 June 1854–06 April 1942), naval officer and inventor, was born in Lyons, New York, the son of William Allen Fiske, an Episcopalian minister, and Susan Matthews Bradley. After obtaining his primary education in a public school and then a private military school in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the family had moved, Fiske was nominated as a candidate to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1870. He served as secretary and treasurer of his class and graduated second in the class of 1874. He then began serving in a navy that had reached its post–Civil War nadir....

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Furer, Julius Augustus (09 October 1880–05 June 1963), naval officer and inventor, was born in the rural township of Mosel, Wisconsin, the son of Rev. Edmund F. Furer and Caroline Louis Wedemeyer. He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1897 and graduated at the top of his class in 1901. After sea duty on the USS ...

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Hanger, James Edward (25 February 1843–09 June 1919), soldier and businessman, was born at his father's plantation, “Mt. Hope,” near Churchville, Augusta County, Virginia, the son of William Alexander Hanger, planter, and Eliza Hogshead Hanger. After receiving his early education in local schools, in 1859 he enrolled at Washington College (now Washington & Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia, where he studied engineering....

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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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Lay, John Louis (14 January 1832–17 April 1899), inventor and engineer, was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of John Lay, a businessman, and Frances Atkins. He was educated in the public schools in Buffalo. Strongly interested in mechanics, he was employed as an engine builder and in other capacities in the Pacific Mail Service. He also worked on various steam vessels on the Great Lakes. For a time he was chief engineer on a steamship operating out of New Orleans that was involved in trading activities in the Gulf of Mexico. Discharged by his employers shortly before the Civil War because he was a northerner, Lay settled in Iowa and, as a licensed first engineer, had charge of a steam vessel plying the Mississippi River....

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Lewis, Isaac Newton (12 October 1858–09 November 1931), soldier and inventor, was born in New Salem, Pennsylvania, the son of James H. Lewis and Anne Kendall. Little is known of his childhood because of his own reticence and the destruction of many of his personal papers in a fire. The family moved to Kansas, where Lewis was educated. Beyond that there is no information on family life, parental occupations, or even exact location. At twenty Lewis taught school, a task he found unpleasant. In 1880 he received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1884 and was commissioned a second lieutenant into artillery. After several short postings, he attended the Torpedo School at Willet’s Point, New York, in 1885 and 1886. In 1886 he married Mary Wheatley; they had four children....

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Parrott, Robert Parker (05 October 1804–24 December 1877), soldier, inventor, and arms manufacturer, was born in Lee, New Hampshire, the son of John Fabyan Parrott, a shipowner, sea captain, and later a U.S. congressman and senator, and Hannah Skilling Parker, the daughter of a revolutionary privateer. Parrott graduated third in his 1824 class of the U.S. Military Academy and was commissioned in artillery. He was one of a distinguished group of West Point graduates who converted an education in mathematics, engineering, and applied science into a notable career as an applied scientist and inventor. Following a five-year assignment as assistant professor of natural and experimental philosophy at West Point, Parrott spent several years on garrison and coastal defense duty and served briefly as a staff officer in operations against the Creek Nation. On 13 February 1836 he was promoted to captain of ordnance and assigned as assistant to the chief of the Bureau of Ordnance. His work as inspector of ordnance during construction of the new West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, New York, so impressed its owner, Gouverneur Kemble, that he persuaded Parrott to resign his commission to direct the foundry’s operations. Following three years as superintendent of the foundry, Parrot leased it from Kemble. He purchased 7,000 acres of land to secure his supply of charcoal pig-iron and secured his technological capacity with the purchase of the Greenwood Iron Furnace in partnership with his brother, Peter Parrott. For some forty years Parrott ran the foundry while conducting research and experimentation in ordnance....

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Rains, Gabriel James (04 June 1803–06 August 1881), soldier, scientist, and inventor, was born in Craven County, North Carolina, the son of Gabriel M. Rains and Hester Ambrose. Rains graduated thirteenth in his 1827 class of the U.S. Military Academy and was commissioned in the infantry. He married (date unknown) into one of the South’s most venerable families when he wedded Mary Jane McClellan, granddaughter of Governor ...

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Rains, George Washington (1817–21 March 1898), soldier, scientist, engineer, and educator, was born in Craven County, North Carolina, the son of Gabriel M. Rains and Hester Ambrose. Rains graduated third in his 1842 class of the U.S. Military Academy. He was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers but transferred to the artillery. In 1844 Rains was detached to West Point as assistant professor of chemistry, geology, and mineralogy. He served with distinction in the war with Mexico and was breveted captain for gallantry at the battles of Contreras and Churubusco and major for gallantry at Chapultepec. Following postings in the South and Northeast, he resigned his commission in 1856, the same year he married Francis Josephine Ramsdell. The number of their children, if any, is unknown. He served as president of the Washington Iron Works and then the Highland Iron Works, both in Newburgh, New York. Rains joined the ranks of soldier-inventors produced by West Point, when in 1860–1861 he patented several inventions relating to steam engines and boilers....

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Tilghman, Benjamin Chew (26 October 1821–03 July 1901), inventor, manufacturer, and soldier, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Benjamin Tilghman, a lawyer, and Anna Maria McMurtrie. In 1837 he entered the University of Pennsylvania after two years at Bristol College in New Jersey, graduating with a B.A. in 1839. He studied law and was admitted to the bar, but instead of practicing he joined his younger brother ...