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Liberty Hyde Bailey Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-12222).

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Bailey, Liberty Hyde (15 March 1858–25 December 1954), horticulturist and botanist, was born near South Haven, in Van Buren County, Michigan, the son of Liberty Hyde Bailey, Sr., a farmer and fruit grower, and Sarah Harrison. From childhood he was interested in nature, observing and making collections of plants and animals in the fields near his home. During his school days he came upon copies of Charles Darwin’s ...

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Phillip Drennon Thomas

Bartram, John (23 March 1699–22 September 1777), botanist, was born in Marple, Pennsylvania, the son of William Bartram and Elizabeth Hunt, farmers. His parents were members of the Society of Friends, and, although raised in this tradition, by 1757 Bartram had departed from Quaker teachings by opposing the pacifism of the society and by denying the divinity of Jesus. Excluded in that year from fellowship with the local community of Friends, he nevertheless continued to attend their Sunday services. After the death of his mother in 1701 and his father’s immigration to North Carolina with a new wife around 1709, young Bartram remained in Pennsylvania and was raised by his grandmother and an uncle, Isaac Bartram. His formal education was limited; he was handicapped throughout his career as a naturalist by his poor grammar and inadequate knowledge of Latin....

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Bartram, William (09 April 1739–22 July 1823), naturalist, artist, and explorer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Bartram, a naturalist, and Ann Mendenhall. Unlike his father, who was essentially self-taught, William Bartram benefited from a rigorous formal education at the Philadelphia Academy, where he studied history, Latin, French, and the classics. From an early age, however, his overriding interest was in nature. He spent much of his time as a young man traveling with his father to collect and draw plants and other specimens for John Bartram’s overseas patrons and scientific correspondents....

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Blackstone, William (05 March 1595–26 May 1675), Anglican clergyman, horticulturist, and first European settler in what is now Rhode Island, was born in Whickham, Durham, England, the son of John Blackstone, a wealthy landowner and poultryman, and Agnes Hawley. At Emmanuel College, Cambridge, Blackstone (sometimes Blackston or Blaxton) took his B.A. in 1617 and his M.A. in 1621. He at once took orders in the Church of England....

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Bull, Ephraim Wales (04 March 1806–26 September 1895), horticulturalist, breeder of the Concord grape, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Epaphras Bull, a silversmith descended from a colonist who had come to America in 1635, and Esther Wales, the daughter of a wealthy family from Dorset, Massachusetts. A serious student, Ephraim won a medal for scholarship at the age of eleven, but since his father could not afford further education for him he was apprenticed to Louis Lauriat, a local chemist, to learn the craft of goldbeating—hammering gold into thin sheets for use in gilding—at the age of fifteen. After working for another goldbeater in Dorchester for a time, he opened his own business in 1826, and later that same year married Mary Ellen Walker, a relative of the president of Harvard. The couple had three children but separated in 1871....

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Luther Burbank With a view of his home, 1907. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108372).

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Burbank, Luther (07 March 1849–11 April 1926), horticulturist, was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Walton Burbank, a farmer and brickmaker, and Olive Ross. Although Burbank’s family was of comfortable middle-class means, his formal schooling was modest, consisting of public school attendance until the age of fifteen, supplemented by part-time study during the next four winters at the Lancaster Academy. An important influence in his early life was his cousin Levi Sumner Burbank, who had been curator of geology at the Boston Society of Natural History and often took the youngster with him on local natural history excursions....

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Burpee, David (05 April 1893–24 June 1980), businessman and horticulturist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of W. Atlee Burpee, the founder of the W. Atlee Burpee Seed Company, and Blanche Simons. His father founded the company in Philadelphia in 1878 as a catalog and mail-order retailer of poultry and livestock. The company met with success when it shifted its emphasis from animals and fowl to seeds. Burpee’s father actively encouraged his sons to follow him in the seed business. When his father became ill with a liver ailment, Burpee ended his studies in agriculture at Cornell University and served as his assistant until the elder Burpee’s death in 1915....

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Callaway, Cason Jewell (06 November 1894–12 April 1961), business executive, agriculturist, and developer, was born in LaGrange, Georgia, the son of Fuller Earle Callaway and Ida Jane Cason. His father was the founder of Callaway Mills, Inc., a highly successful cotton processing firm. He attended Bingham Military School in Asheville, North Carolina, followed by one year at the University of Virginia. He enjoyed a successful year at Charlottesville, but his father decided that he needed skills training. Therefore, he enrolled at Eastman School of Business in Poughkeepsie, New York. Young Callaway was given responsibility for Valley Waste Mills, a division of his father’s Callaway Mills. At age twenty he organized Valley Waste Mills into a great commercial success as a pioneering recycling operation. His achievements gained his father’s attention as well as that of other top managers in the firm, since the waste division netted more than $1 million in profits during the three-year period just before U.S. entry into World War I....

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Chapman, John (26 September 1774–10 March 1845), pioneer nurseryman and folk hero, known as “Johnny Appleseed,” was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel Chapman, a farmer and carpenter, and Elizabeth Simons (or Simonds). No authenticated account of Chapman’s childhood has come to light. It is likely, however, that he began to develop his remarkable woodsman’s skills during his childhood and youth along the Connecticut River near Longmeadow, Massachusetts, to which the family had moved following his father’s remarriage. As a young man, Chapman established an appletree nursery along the Allegheny Valley (1797–1798) in northwestern Pennsylvania. From there he gradually extended his operations into central and northwestern Ohio and then into eastern Indiana....

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Crockett, James Underwood (09 October 1915–11 July 1979), gardener and writer, was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, the son of Earle Royce Crockett and Inez Underwood Crockett. After attending area public schools, he studied horticulture briefly at the University of Massachusetts. By 1935 he had moved to Long Island, New York, where he became an employee of Oak Park Nurseries, in East Patchogue. Four years later he moved again, this time to Texas, and became the superintendent of the Japanese Nursery Company in Houston. During his two years in Texas he studied horticulture part time at the state Agricultural and Mechanical College, now known as Texas A&M University....

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Robert F. Erickson

Douglas, David (25 June 1799–12 July 1834), botanist, was born in Scone, Perthshire, Scotland, the son of John Douglas, a stonemason, and Jean Drummond. He spent a few years in the parish schools and was then apprenticed, at the age of eleven, at the earl of Mansfield’s gardens. Through reading, field studies, and practical gardening, Douglas developed an enthusiasm for natural history, especially botany, which would be the single passion of his life. In 1820 he obtained a post at the botanical garden in Glasgow, and there met the famous botanist William Jackson Hooker. Hooker became his mentor and then his close friend, and the two went on many botanizing expeditions in the Scottish Highlands and Islands....

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Downing, Andrew Jackson (31 October 1815–28 July 1852), nurseryman and landscape gardener, was born in Newburgh, New York, the son of Samuel Downing, a wheelwright turned nurseryman, and Eunice Bridge. His youthful experiences in the Hudson Valley inspired his later interest in landscape and architectural design. As Newburgh grew from village into small industrial city, and as farmers increasingly raised fruits and vegetables for urban markets, Downing’s career evolved from that of selling garden stock to the landscaping of grounds and the design of rural and suburban homes. And as the pace of urban growth accelerated, he became the most influential early advocate of spacious parks within cities and codified the suburban ideal for middle- and upper-class Americans....

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Andrew Jackson Downing. Engraving on paper, c. 1852, by John Halpin. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of T. Bragg McLeod.

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du Pont, Henry Francis (27 May 1880–11 April 1969), art collector and horticulturist, was born in Winterthur, Delaware, the son of Henry Algernon du Pont, an army officer and U.S. senator, and Mary Pauline Foster. After taking an A.B. at Harvard College in 1903, the young du Pont spent a number of years traveling throughout the United States and Europe, the du Ponts’ financial success having released him from career obligations. In 1914, however, his father asked that he take over the day-to-day management of the dairy farming operation at “Winterthur Farms,” the family farm in rural Delaware. Under du Pont’s meticulous direction the farm developed a nationally famous and prize-winning herd of Holstein-Friesian cattle, specimens of which were consistently voted among the best of breed in the country, serving as the foundation for many other registered Holstein herds throughout the United States. The spectacular success of the cattle herd, in combination with du Pont’s unusual willingness to experiment with innovative new practices in soil conservation and crop production, allowed Winterthur Farms to develop a reputation as the model of a modern American dairy farm....

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Fairchild, David Grandison (07 April 1869–06 August 1954), agricultural explorer and botanist, was born in Lansing, Michigan, the son of George Thompson Fairchild, a college professor and administrator, and Charlotte Pearl Halsted. Fairchild attended Kansas State College of Agriculture and graduated in 1888 with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. He began his graduate work at Iowa State College (later Iowa State University), studying plant pathology under the guidance of his uncle, Byron D. Halsted. When Halsted accepted a professorship at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Fairchild moved east to continue his graduate studies....

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Fraser, John (1750–26 April 1811), botanical explorer and collector, was born in Tomnacross near Kiltarlity, Inverness-shire, Scotland, the son of Donald Fraser, a farmer and grounds officer of the Jacobite leader Simon Fraser, thirteenth Lord Lovat. John Fraser’s mother was probably one Mary McLean of Cragganmore, Inverness-shire. Nothing is known of his childhood and education. In the 1770s, Fraser moved to London and established himself as a draper and hosier in Paradise Row, Chelsea, where he married Francis Shaw in 1778. The Frasers had two sons, John (baptized 1780), who accompanied his father on two collecting trips to North America, and James Thomas (baptized 1782), who helped manage the family’s botanical nursery in England in the 1800s....

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Garey, Thomas Andrew (07 July 1830–20 August 1909), citriculturist and land developer, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Samuel Garey, a physician, and Margaret Wringer. Little is known about his childhood, except that his family lived in Hagerstown, Maryland, for several years, eventually moving to Iowa in 1847. By age twenty Garey was living in Independence, Missouri, at which time he left with a group of travelers bound for California. In the fall of 1850, however, Garey abandoned the group in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when he met Louise Josephine Smith, whom he married on 27 October 1850. The couple had seven children who survived infancy....

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Hansen, Niels Ebbesen (04 January 1866–05 October 1950), horticulturalist and plant explorer, was born near Ribe, Denmark, the son of Andreas Hansen, a mural designer and altar painter, and Bodil Midtgaard, who died when he was an infant. After remarrying, his father immigrated to the United States in 1872, and the following year Niels, along with his stepmother and his two sisters, joined the father in New York. Two years later the family moved to Des Moines, Iowa, where Niels attended public school, completing the first eight grades in five years. A precocious student, he finished the last two years of high school through a personal course of study with Iowa Secretary of State John A. Hull while working in his office. He graduated from Iowa Agricultural College (predecessor of Iowa State University) in 1887. After working for four years in private nurseries, he returned to the college as an assistant professor and completed the requirements for a master of science degree in botany and horticulture there in 1895....