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Boyd, Louise Arner (16 September 1887–14 September 1972), Arctic explorer, photographer, and author, was born in San Rafael, California, the daughter of John Franklin Boyd, Sr., and Louise Cook Arner. Boyd was born to one of the wealthiest families in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. Her maternal grandfather, Ira Cook, had built a fortune in the mid-nineteenth century, and her father ran the family gold-mining business and an investment company. Boyd was educated privately, first by governesses, then at Miss Stewart’s School in San Rafael and Miss Murrison’s in San Francisco. She did not attend college or university and made her social debut in 1907. Throughout the next decade, during which her father trained her to become the financial manager of the family business, Boyd stayed busy with family concerns and community interests, helping care for her invalid brothers and emerging as a leading patron of music, art, and charitable causes in San Rafael and San Francisco. She also became expert at growing prize camellias....

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Freeman, Thomas (?–08 November 1821), surveyor, civil engineer, and explorer, was born in Ireland and immigrated in 1784 to America. Nothing is known of his parents, early life, or formal training, but he apparently had a background in the sciences. He may have acquired employment at Plymouth, Massachusetts, as an inspector and surveyor. In 1794 ...

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Gist, Christopher (1705–25 July 1759), explorer, surveyor, and Indian agent, was born in Baltimore Country, Maryland, the son of Richard Gist, a judge, and Zepporah Murray. His grandfather was Christopher Guest, but the surname was changed to Gist around 1700. Gist was highly educated for his time and place. During his youth in Maryland he acquired literacy and other skills that enabled him to develop a vocation as a cartographer and explorer in the service of the Ohio Company. In 1750, while he lived in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley (where he knew ...

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Mackay, James (1759?–16 March 1822), explorer and surveyor, was born in the Parish of Kildonan, county of Sutherland, Scotland, the son of George Mackay, a judge, and Elizabeth McDonald. A surveyor by trade, he was well educated, fluent in both French and Spanish, and played the violin. In 1776 he left Scotland for Canada, where he became a fur trader for the North West Company. Under the employ of the English he explored the upper lakes and Western region of Canada and stayed for a time at Fort Espérance (in Saskatchewan), near the Qu’Appelle and Assiniboine rivers. In 1787 Mackay, along with an expeditionary force of a few men, went south to the Mandan Indian towns, where they spent ten days. It was apparently one of the first contacts that the Mandans had with white men. The Mandans honored Mackay and his party by carrying them on buffalo robes into their earthen towns. During his travels he mapped the area toward the Rockies. These maps would be of great benefit to later explorations. After returning to Canada, sometime between 1792 and 1794, Mackay went on to St. Louis, where he was one of the first English-speaking settlers of Upper Louisiana. In St. Louis he became a Spanish subject....