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Huntington, Henry Edwards (27 February 1850–23 May 1927), urban developer, railroad executive, and book and art collector, was born in Oneonta, New York, the son of Solon Huntington, a merchant, land speculator, and farmer, and Harriet Saunders. His father was conservative by nature, and it was his uncle, railway magnate ...

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Johnston, John Taylor (08 April 1820–24 March 1893), railroad president and art patron, was born in New York City, the son of John Johnston, a banker, and Margaret Taylor. His parents, who had come from Scotland, took Johnston on one of their periodic visits to their homeland; he studied briefly at Edinburgh High School and was named “dux” (top pupil) of his class. He graduated from the University of the City of New York (now New York University) in 1839 and proceeded to study law, first at the Yale College law school (1839–1841) and then in the New York office of Daniel Lord. Admitted to the New York bar in 1843, Johnston soon found that the profession did not engage his interests fully. He traveled abroad for two years, before returning to the United States and commencing his career in the field of railroad development....

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Plumbe, John ( July 1809– July 1857), railroad advocate and photographer, was born in Wales. Little is known about his early life. His family immigrated to the United States in 1821. After completing his education, he turned to railroading for employment. American railroads were in their infancy in 1831, with less than 100 miles in operation in the nation. In 1831–1832 Plumbe was an assistant to Moncure Robinson, a civil engineer who was surveying a projected rail line across the Alleghenies in central Pennsylvania. In 1832, upon Robinson’s recommendation, Plumbe was appointed superintendent for the southern portion of a railroad that was being built between Petersburg, Virginia, and the Roanoke River in North Carolina. Though happy in his position, he left the South in 1836 and moved to Dubuque, Iowa, which remained his principal residence....