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Burt, Struthers (18 October 1882–29 August 1954), poet, prose writer, and rancher, was born Maxwell Struthers Burt in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Horace Brooke Burt, a Philadelphia lawyer then in Baltimore on business, and Hester Ann Jones. From the age of six months, Burt grew up in Philadelphia, attended private schools there, and became the youngest reporter in Philadelphia, working on the ...

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Cassidy, Butch (13 April 1866–1908? or 1937?), outlaw and rancher, was born Robert LeRoy Parker in Beaver, Utah, the oldest of thirteen children of Maximillian Parker and Ann Gillies, small ranchers. His British-born parents were Mormons who pulled handcarts across the Great Plains to Utah in 1856. As a teenager growing up near Circleville, Utah, Parker was influenced by cowhand Mike Cassidy, who taught him to ride, shoot, rope, brand, and rustle cattle and horses. Under suspicion by local authorities, Parker and Cassidy left Utah in 1884. Parker went to Telluride, Colorado, where he found employment with a mining company. There he met Tom McCarty, a bank robber, and soon joined the McCarty Gang. On 24 June 1889, he participated in a bank robbery at Telluride, after which he drifted into Wyoming. Because he was now wanted by the law, Parker took the surname of his boyhood idol, calling himself George Cassidy. While working in a butcher’s shop in Rock Springs, Wyoming, he became Butch Cassidy....

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Chisum, John Simpson (14 August 1824–22 December 1884), cattleman, was born in Hardeman County, Tennessee, the son of Claiborne C. Chisum and Lucinda Chisum, farmers. Claiborne Chisum, who reportedly altered the spelling of his surname (from Chisholm) about 1815, moved his family to Red River County, Texas, in 1837....

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Cortina, Juan Nepomuceno (16 May 1824–30 October 1892), revolutionary, politician, Mexican governor, and rancher, was born in Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, the son of Trinidad Cortina, the town mayor and an important landowner, and María Estéfana Goseascochea. Little is known of Juan Cortina’s early life and education. Upon the death of his father in the early 1840s, his family moved to the Espíritu Santo grant, part of the area between the Nueces and Río Grande claimed by both Mexico and Texas and the future site of the city of Brownsville, Texas. This land belonged to Cortina’s mother. Cortina associated with ...

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Goodnight, Charles (05 March 1836–12 December 1929), rancher, was born in Macoupin County, Illinois, the second son of Charles Goodnight and Charlotte Collier, farmers. After Charles Goodnight, Sr., died in 1841, Charlotte Goodnight married a neighbor, Hiram Daugherty, who moved the family to Texas in 1845, settling in Milam County. By then Charles Goodnight, Jr., had attended school for two years, which was all the education he ever received....

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Greene, William Cornell (26 August 1853–05 August 1911), rancher, mineowner, and investor, was born at Duck Creek, Wisconsin, the son of Townsend Greene and Eleanor Cornell, farmers. His father died when William was very young, leaving his mother apparently little choice but to split up the family of two sons and two daughters. As a result, Greene was brought up by his great aunt in Chappaqua, New York. He apparently obtained a decent education, given the standards of that day, then moved to New York at age seventeen to begin his business career as a clerk in a tea store. In 1872 Greene moved west, apparently working in the Dakotas, then in Texas, and finally drifting to Arizona, where he became a prospector in the Bradshaw Mining District in 1877. He was then twenty-four years old, brave to a fault, given to gambling, short in temper, and modest of means....

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Ivins, Anthony Woodward (16 September 1852–23 September 1934), businessman, rancher, and church leader, was born in Toms River, New Jersey, the son of Israel Ivins, a pioneer physician and farmer, and Anna Lowrie. Shortly after Ivins’s birth, his family converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). They moved west to the Salt Lake Valley, and in 1861 Israel Ivins was assigned by ...

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Jones, Buffalo ( January 1844–01 October 1919), frontiersman, rancher, and conservationist, was born Charles Jesse Jones in Tazewell County, Illinois, the son of Noah Nicholas Jones and Jane Munden; the exact date of his birth is unclear. His father often served as an election judge and reportedly once hired ...

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King, Richard (10 July 1825–14 April 1885), rancher, the son of unknown Irish immigrants, was born in New York City. Poor relatives apprenticed him at age eight or nine to a jeweler, who abused him. At age eleven King fled, stowing away on a ship bound for Mobile, Alabama, but he was discovered when four days at sea. The captain took pity on the lad, putting him ashore at Mobile, where King found work as a cabin boy on steamers plying the Alabama River. One ship’s master taught him to read and sent him to Connecticut to live with his sisters, where he received eight months’ schooling, all the education he ever acquired....

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Lasater, Edward Cunningham (05 November 1860–20 March 1930), rancher, dairyman, and land developer, was born at “Valley Farm,” near Goliad, Texas, the son of Albert H. Lasater, a rancher, and Sarah Jane Cunningham. The Texas frontier offered Edward only a meager education, but he had dreams of becoming a lawyer. Those dreams were shattered when, his father’s health failing, he had to leave school to help with the family’s sheep business in Atascosa County. His father purchased a ranch near Oakville in Live Oak County, and after his father’s death in 1883, Lasater began buying and selling cattle and establishing his credit. In 1892 he married Martha Patti Noble Bennett. They had two children before Martha died in childbirth in 1900. In 1902 Lasater married Mary Gardner Miller; they had five children....

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Littlefield, George Washington (21 June 1842–10 November 1920), cattle dealer, banker, and philanthropist, was born in Panola County, Mississippi, the son of Fleming Littlefield and Mildred Terrell Satterwhite White, plantation owners. At the age of nine he moved with his family to a 1,500-acre plantation on the Guadalupe River, north of Gonzales, Texas. A year after his father’s death in 1853, George’s mother inventoried the family’s holdings and divided them among her children. Consequently, George received five slaves, mules, horses, cattle, oxen, hogs, tools, and a carriage at the young age of twelve. After attending Baylor University in Independence, Texas, in 1857 and 1858, Littlefield returned to work on his mother’s expanding plantation. He then joined the Eighth Texas Cavalry, also known as Terry’s Texas Rangers, in August 1861. He fought as a lieutenant at Shiloh and as a captain in both Tennessee and Kentucky, most notably at the battle of Chickamauga. While returning to battle from a recruiting trip to Texas, Littlefield married Alice P. Tiller, whom he had known in Gonzales, in January 1863 in Houston. The couple had no children. He became major of his regiment, but while replacing a wounded lieutenant colonel at Mossy Creek, he sustained a life-threatening wound in December 1863. Acting on the advice of a surgeon, Littlefield resigned from service in late summer of the next year....

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Marsh, John (05 June 1799–24 September 1856), California ranchero and physician, was born in Danvers, Massachusetts, the son of John Marsh and Mary “Polly” Brown, farmers. After graduating from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1819, Marsh received his B.A. from Harvard in 1823. That year he accepted an appointment as a tutor at Fort St. Anthony (later Fort Snelling), in Michigan Territory. For two years Marsh taught school and studied medicine under the guidance of Edward Purcell, the post surgeon. Purcell died without giving his apprentice a certificate, but this did not prevent Marsh from successfully practicing medicine years later in California....

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McCrea, Joel (05 November 1905–20 October 1990), actor and rancher, was born Joel Albert McCrea in South Pasadena, California, the son of Thomas P. McCrea, an executive with the Los Angeles Gas and Electric Company, and Lou Whipple. When he was nine, his father moved the family to the rural community of Hollywood, California, where McCrea attended local schools. Education and work were both stressed in the McCrea household. During the school year Joel delivered the ...

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Parker, John Palmer (01 May 1790–25 March 1868), cattleman, was born in Newton, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Parker and Ann Palmer, well-to-do owners of a New England shipping company. The family was financially secure and provided an intellectually stimulating environment for the young boy. Educated in eastern Massachusetts at Framingham Academy, Parker excelled in mathematics and history. Early on, he had strong interests both in artifacts from Native American cultures and the revolutionary war. Following his Framingham education, he worked briefly as a bookkeeper in the family business....

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Ross, C. Ben (21 December 1876–31 March 1946), rancher, politician, and governor of Idaho, was born Charles Benjamin Ross in Parma, Idaho, the son of John M. Ross and Jeannette Hadley, ranchers. His parents were pioneers who went west from New York by way of Cape Horn. Ross’s first American ancestors emigrated from Scotland in the 1740s. His great-grandfather fought in the American Revolution, and his father went to sea as a young man, eventually following the gold rush to California. After marrying in 1864, his father abandoned the uncertain life of a prospector and purchased a homestead in what is now Canyon County, Idaho. The town of Parma, which sprouted nearby when the railroad went through in 1883, became the Ross family home....

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Stearns, Abel (09 February 1798–23 August 1871), California pioneer merchant and ranchero, California pioneer merchant and ranchero, was born in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, the son of Levi Stearns and Elizabeth Goodrich (occupations unknown). When his parents died within three months of each other in 1810, Stearns went to sea and rose from merchant sailor to supercargo before acquiring his own trading schooner in 1822. By then, a failed marriage to Persis (maiden name unknown) between 1817 and 1820 had resulted in the birth of a child in 1819. In the meantime, Stearns traveled to the East and West Indies, China, and South America before abandoning the sea, the United States, and apparently his own child in 1826. Settling in Mexico City, Stearns became a naturalized Mexican citizen in 1828 and moved to Monterey, California, the following year....

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Vallejo, Mariano Guadalupe (07 July 1808–18 January 1890), soldier, rancher, and elected official, was born in Monterey, California, the son of Ignacio Alvarado Vallejo, a soldier, and Maria Antonia Lugo. Vallejo grew up in Monterey in an elite family. His parents encouraged his schooling, and the young man’s reading tastes ran to Enlightenment literature, some of it forbidden by the church. He once smuggled into California a small library of prohibited books, an offense for which he was briefly excommunicated. Vallejo followed in his father’s footsteps by enlisting in the military. In 1828 or 1829 the young ...

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Warner, Jonathan Trumbull (20 November 1807–11 April 1895), California ranchero, was born in Lyme, New London County, Connecticut, the son of Selden Warner and Dorothy Selden, occupations unknown. A direct descendant of Puritans who had settled in New England in the 1630s, Warner left Connecticut at the age of twenty-two due to failing health. Following the advice of a physician, he moved west in search of a more congenial climate....

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Wolfskill, William (20 March 1798–03 October 1866), frontiersman, trader, and rancher, was born in Boonesborough, Madison County, Kentucky, the son of Joseph Wolfskill, Jr., and Sarah Reid, farmers. In late 1809 the family moved to Boone’s Lick, Howard County, Missouri. William was sent back to Kentucky in 1815 to attend school for two years and then returned to Missouri, where he remained. In May 1822 he joined William Becknell’s second Santa Fe trade expedition. In New Mexico, Wolfskill and fellow Kentuckian ...