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Maxwell Bodenheim. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112040).

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Bodenheim, Maxwell (26 May 1892–07 February 1954), poet, critic, and novelist, was born in Hermanville, Mississippi, the son of Solomon Bodenheimer and Caroline Herman. An emigrant from Alsace, Solomon Bodenheimer never found financial or professional security; his career included stints as a traveling whiskey salesman and unsuccessful forays into clothing stores and men’s haberdashery. The daughter of a distinguished and wealthy surgeon, Caroline Bodenheimer came from a milieu that was vastly different from that of her husband. Indeed, the town of Hermanville itself obtained its name from Caroline Bodenheimer’s uncle, M. B. Herman, who had founded the town and established a small mercantile empire there. Caroline’s tales of lost prosperity provided a bitter contrast to the impoverished world in which Maxwell Bodenheim was reared....

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Falkner, William Clark (06 July 1825–06 November 1889), writer and great-grandfather of novelist William Faulkner, writer and great-grandfather of novelist William Faulkner, was born in Knox County, Tennessee, the son of Joseph Falkner, an immigrant from Scotland, and Caroline Word. Joseph and Caroline Falkner had just embarked on a move from Haywood County, North Carolina, to St. Genevieve, Missouri, when Caroline gave birth to William Clark in Knox County. Once Caroline had recovered, the Falkners settled in St. Genevieve. Joseph’s occupation there is unknown....

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Jefferson, Eddie (03 August 1918–09 May 1979), jazz singer, lyricist, and tap dancer, was born Edgar Jefferson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Information about his parents is unknown. It is known that he started dancing around age eight. He also played tuba in a school band and taught himself guitar and drums, experiences that later gave his singing a firm musical foundation. In Pittsburgh he was accompanied by pianist ...

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Johnson, William (1809–17 June 1851), diarist and entrepreneur, was born in Natchez, Mississippi, the son of William Johnson, a slaveholder, and Amy Johnson, a slave. When William was five years old his mother was emancipated and established her household in Natchez. In 1820 the eleven-year-old William was freed by the Mississippi legislature at the request of his owner. Once emancipated, he apprenticed with his brother-in-law, James Miller, in his barber business in Natchez. Johnson became proprietor of the business—reportedly the most popular barber shop in Natchez—when Miller moved to New Orleans in 1830. Johnson and his African-American staff ran the shop, which served a predominantly white clientele. Johnson’s barbers not only offered haircuts and shaves, they also fitted wigs, sold fancy soaps and oils, and, beginning in 1834, operated a bathhouse at the Main Street location....

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Lovejoy, Elijah Parish (09 November 1802–07 November 1837), abolitionist editor and preacher, was born near Albion, Maine, the son of Daniel Lovejoy, a Congregational preacher and farmer, and Elizabeth Pattee. Lovejoy graduated from Waterville (now Colby) College in 1826 and a year later moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he conducted a private school and edited the ...

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Polk, George (17 October 1913–16 May 1948), journalist and broadcast foreign correspondent, was born George Washington Polk, Jr., in Fort Worth, Texas, the son of George Washington Polk, a lawyer, and Adelaide Roe, a librarian. Polk attended Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, until 1933. He was forced to leave after his junior year because of financial setbacks suffered by his father. In 1937, after working for the Conoco oil company as a gasoline salesman for four years, he moved to Alaska. While attending the University of Alaska at Fairbanks he sent back columns about Alaska to the ...

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Scott, William Alexander, II (29 September 1902–07 February 1934), newspaper publisher, was born in Edwards, Mississippi, the son of the Reverend William Alexander Scott, Sr., a Christian church minister and owner of a printing shop that produced church publications, and Emeline Southall, a typesetter who printed her husband’s publications. Scott learned printing from his mother. At Jackson College in Mississippi (1920–1922) and at Morehouse College in Atlanta (1923–1925), he studied business and mathematics. He helped publish the Morehouse yearbook, was a quarterback on the football team, and with his older brother Aurelius became a champion debater. He left college without graduating....

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Tresca, Carlo (09 March 1879–11 January 1943), anarcho-syndicalist labor leader and newspaper editor, was born in Sulmona, Abruzzi, Italy, the son of Filippo Tresca, a landowner, and Filomena Faciano. He attended a scuola technica (commercial high school) in Sulmona. His family could not afford to send him to a university. After joining the Italian Socialist party as a young man, Tresca became local secretary of the (Railroad) Firemen’s and Engineers’ Union and editor of ...

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Zenger, John Peter (1697–28 July 1746), printer, was born in the German Palatinate, the son of Johanna Zenger (his father’s name is unknown). In 1710 his family was part of a company of Palatine refugees whose migration to New York by way of England was financed by the British Crown. He arrived with his mother, a younger brother, and a younger sister; his father had died on the voyage. Governor ...