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Fair, James Graham (03 December 1831–28 December 1894), miner, financier, and U.S. senator, was born near Belfast, Ireland, the son of Scotch-Irish parents. His father’s name was James Fair; only his mother’s maiden name, Graham, is known. In 1843 Fair’s parents left Ireland with their son and emigrated to the United States. The family settled in Geneva, Illinois. After attending public schools, Fair continued his studies, primarily in business, chemistry, and mathematics in nearby Chicago....

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Marshall, James Wilson (08 October 1810–10 August 1885), discoverer of gold in California, was born in the vicinity of Marshall’s Corner in present-day Mercer County, New Jersey, the son of Philip Marshall, a coach and wagonmaker, and Sarah Wilson. He was educated in private schools, and under the tutelage of his father, he became a wheelwright and carpenter; he also learned something about lumbering and sawmills. Seeking adventure and fortune, he started west in 1834. A shortage of funds forced brief stops in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and Warsaw, Illinois, where he earned money as a carpenter before moving on to Omaha. There he worked as a wheelwright and entered the employment of the American Fur Company, which had a trading post at nearby Bellevue. When the Platte Purchase near Fort Leavenworth was opened for settlement, he preempted and subsequently purchased 140 acres and gained a frontage on the east bank of the Missouri River. Plagued by fever and illness, he sold the land and livestock in 1844 and joined an overland emigrant group en route to Oregon, arriving at Fort Vancouver before the end of the year....

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Scott, Walter Edward (1870?–05 January 1954), prospector and publicist, also known as “Death Valley Scotty,” was born in Cynthiana, Kentucky, the son of a prosperous horse breeder. The names of his parents are not known. Dates suggested for his birth range from 1868 to 1876 (the date Scott himself claimed). At an early age Scott allegedly followed his older brother Warner to Nevada, where he was employed by a rancher, John Sparks. From there he went to Death Valley and reportedly drove a borax team at the Harmony Works in 1885. His subsequent job was as a sharpshooter and bronco rider for ...