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Fitch, James (02 August 1649–10 November 1727), Connecticut land speculator and magistrate, was born in Saybrook, Connecticut, the son of the Reverend James Fitch and Abigail Whitfield. In 1659 his father led a group of people to settle the town of Norwich, situated where the Quinebaug and Shetucket rivers combine to form the Thames. Fitch was raised largely on the frontier in close proximity to the Indians, with whom his father had numerous contacts. He gained knowledge of the unsettled lands in eastern Connecticut and learned to manipulate the Native Americans who controlled them. Fitch served in ...

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Hastings, Serranus Clinton (22 November 1814–18 February 1893), jurist, politician, educational philanthropist, and real estate magnate, was born near Watertown, Jefferson County, New York, the son of Robert Collins Hastings, a farmer, and Patience Brayton, who was from an early settler family in western New York. Robert Hastings, a Bostonian, saw action in the War of 1812 as a militia officer during the several attacks on the U.S. Naval Station at Sackets Harbor on Lake Ontario. Serranus attended Gouverneur Academy for six years, taught by graduates of the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution in a strenuously moral classicism acceptable to Baptist tenets. He instituted that learning, aged twenty, as principal of the Norwich Academy, Chenango, New York. Within a year, however, he began the westward trek that brought him first to Lawrenceburg, southeastern Indiana, in 1835, to study law with two prominent lawyers there, meanwhile editing the ...

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Henderson, Richard (20 April 1735–30 January 1785), land speculator, judge, and politician, was born in Hanover County, Virginia, the son of Samuel Henderson and Elizabeth Williams. Samuel Henderson, who had served for a time as sheriff of Hanover County, moved his family to North Carolina around 1742 and settled on Nutbush Creek in Granville County; within a few years he became sheriff. Little is known of Richard Henderson’s childhood, but it must have been a happy one. Under the watchful eye of his mother his education was guided toward a law career. He studied under a private tutor before getting his first job as a deputy sheriff under his father. He then read law under John Williams, his mother’s cousin and a gifted attorney who became a lifelong friend. After being admitted to the bar, Henderson joined Williams in law practice. Their association grew closer after 1763, when Henderson married Elizabeth Keeling, Williams’s stepdaughter who was the daughter of an English peer, Lord Keeling. They had six children....

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Hilton, Edward (1596–1670?), entrepreneur and judge, was baptized at Witton chapelry in Northwich, Chester County, England, on 9 June 1596, the son of William Hilton, a gentleman farmer. His mother’s name is unknown. Very little is known about Hilton’s childhood and early adult years. Sometime after his father’s death in 1605, he was apprenticed to a fishmonger’s widow, Marie Hilton, in London. In 1621 he was admitted to the aristocratic Fishmongers Guild—the same year his brother William, who had been admitted to the guild in 1616, immigrated to the Plymouth colony in New England....

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Mellon, Thomas (03 February 1813–03 February 1908), jurist and financier, was born at Camp Hill Cottage near Omagh, County Tyrone, Ireland, to Andrew Mellon and Rebecca Wauchob, farmers. Despite the relative comfort of their 23-acre farm, Andrew Mellon chose to follow his parents and siblings and emigrate to the United States with his wife and five-year-old Thomas. They arrived in Baltimore in early October 1818 and traveled by Conestoga wagon to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Andrew Mellon purchased a farm in Franklin Township, twenty-one miles east of Pittsburgh....

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Phillips, John (27 December 1719–21 April 1795), merchant-banker, judge, and school benefactor, was born in Andover, Massachusetts, the son of the Reverend Samuel Phillips and Hannah White. His father, who had graduated from Harvard in 1708, prepared him for the college, which he entered when he was only eleven years old, in 1731. As an undergraduate, John was awarded the William Browne and the Hollis scholarships, received the Hopkins Prize for outstanding scholarly achievement, and was selected to deliver an oration at his class of 1735 commencement. After graduation, Phillips taught school in Andover and took the M.A. degree at Harvard in 1738....

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Symmes, John Cleves (21 July 1742–26 February 1814), legislator, jurist, and land speculator, was born near Southold, New York, the son of the Reverend Timothy Symmes and Mary Cleves. Having been driven from his Millington, Connecticut, parish because of his participation in the Great Awakening, Reverend Symmes had settled on Long Island near the Cleves family home the same year that John Symmes was born. After the death of his mother and the departure of his father to do missionary work in New Jersey, Symmes was reared by his maternal grandparents. The formal education he received included the study of surveying and law, supplemented by an extensive reading of Greek and Roman literature and history. Unlike his Harvard-educated father, John Cleves did not attend college and had little, if any, interest in university training. In 1760 he married Anna Tuthill, the daughter of an influential Long Island family. The couple would have two daughters, one of whom would marry ...