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Brand, Virgil Michael (16 January 1862–20 June 1926), brewer and numismatist, was born in Blue Island, Illinois, the son of Michael Brand, a cooper and brewer, and Philippine Darmstädter, the daughter of a flour merchant. Michael Brand was born in Odernheim near Alzey in the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt (not to be confused with the larger village of the same name in the Palatinate) and is said to have left Germany because he was involved in the Revolution of 1848. This is certainly possible, but many German immigrants who left for economic reasons later claimed they had left for political reasons, because it was more glamorous. Philippine Darmstädter was born in Framersheim, the next village over from Odernheim. Michael Brand established a brewery in Chicago under his own name, and it became one of the most prosperous breweries in the city. The firm was one of the very first to adopt Carl von Linde’s refrigeration machine, which meant that the company had an incalculable advantage over its competitors: in the summer, its beer was cold. Michael Brand became extremely wealthy, and in 1890, after a series of mergers, he sold out to English investors, who formed the United States Brewing Company. Michael Brand also established orchards at Brandsville in the Missouri Ozarks, where he sought to encourage viticulture. He owned an extensive library, and he must have had a great love for the classics, for he named his three sons Virgil, Horace, and Armin....

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Corson, Juliet (13 January 1841?–18 June 1897), founder of the New York Cooking School and pioneer in the scientific cookery movement, was born in Mount Pleasant, Massachusetts, the daughter of Peter Ross Corson, a prosperous produce merchant, and Mary Ann Henderson. (Although most obituaries and biographical sources give Corson’s birth date as 1842, the Vital Records of Roxbury, Massachusetts, give the date as 1841.) Corson’s family moved to New York City when she was six years old. In New York her uncle, Alfred Upham, helped to raise her and provided her with a classical education. She began to support herself in her late teens after her mother’s death....

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Charles Frederick Gunther. Courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society (IChi-10584).

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Gunther, Charles Frederick (06 March 1837–10 February 1920), Chicago confectioner, politician, and antiquarian collector, was born Carl Friedrich Guenther in Wildberg, Wurttemberg, Germany, the son of Marie and Johann Martin Guenther, a candle and soap maker. The family immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1842, and at age ten Gunther began work as a government mail carrier, traveling forty miles daily by horseback. In 1850 they resettled in Peru, Illinois, an important ice harvesting center on the canal linking Chicago with the Mississippi watershed. Gunther found work as a cashier in a bank, where he came in contact with many of the merchants who shipped 100,000 tons of ice down the southern rivers during prosperous years....

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Jaramillo, Cleofas Martínez (06 December 1878–30 November 1956), folklorist, writer, and businesswoman, was born in the northern New Mexican village of Arroyo Hondo, the daughter of Julian Antonio Martínez, a landholder who raised sheep and cattle, farmed, and engaged in the mercantile trade, and Marina Lucero de Martínez. Both parents were descended from Spanish pioneers who settled the territory for New Spain in the late sixteenth century. One of seven children, Jaramillo spent her early years amidst the pleasures and hard work of a prosperous, upper-class, large country household. At age nine she entered the Loretto Convent School in Taos, New Mexico, and later attended the Loretto Academy in Santa Fe. There she was courted by her cousin, Colonel Venceslao Jaramillo, whom she married in Taos in 1898. After a wedding trip to California, they settled in El Rito....

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Lincoln, Mary Johnson Bailey (08 July 1844–02 December 1921), educator and culinary writer, was born in South Attleboro, Massachusetts, the daughter of the Reverend John Milton Burnham Bailey and Sarah Morgan Johnson. Although raised with limited means, Bailey felt that the prestige of being in a ministerial household helped form her strong, industrious character. Her father died when she was seven, and she began to earn money for her own expenses by taking factory work in Attleboro, sewing hooks and eyes on cards, and setting stones in jewelry. Her mother then moved the family to Norton, Massachusetts, so that her daughters would be educated at Wheaton Seminary while she served as a housemother there. While a student Bailey continued to do her share of the housework and made hair nets for the seminary girls....

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Parloa, Maria (25 September 1843–21 August 1909), teacher of cooking and pioneer in home economics education, was born in Massachusetts; no records have been found of her parentage or exact place of birth. Orphaned in her youth, Parloa supported herself by working as a cook in private homes and as a pastry cook in several New Hampshire hotels, notably the Appledore House on the Isles of Shoals. In 1871, at the age of twenty-eight, she enrolled in the normal school of the Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. The following year she published ...

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Pillsbury, John Sargent (29 July 1827–18 October 1901), businessman, politician, and "father" of the University of Minnesota, businessman, politician, and “father” of the University of Minnesota, was born in Sutton, New Hampshire, the son of John Pillsbury and Susan Wadleigh. He grew up in Sutton, where his father had a small manufacturing business. There he attended primary school and became an apprentice printer. In 1853 he moved to Warner, New Hampshire, where he worked as a store clerk for his brother and later went into business as a tailor and cloth merchant. It was there he met Mahala Fisk, whom he married in 1856; they had three children and adopted a fourth. In 1853, like many from the East, he traveled to the West Coast in search of greater opportunity and passed through Minnesota. He returned in 1855 and settled in St. Anthony, later incorporated into Minneapolis, and opened a hardware store that he operated for the next two decades. His business was almost wiped out during the panic of 1857 and by a disastrous fire the same year that burned his store to the ground. By living in near poverty for the next several years he paid his debts, restored his business, and eventually prospered....

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Rorer, Sarah Tyson (18 October 1849–27 December 1937), cooking teacher and diet reformer, was born Sarah Tyson Heston in Richboro, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Charles Tyson Heston, a pharmacist, and Elizabeth Sagers. The family resided in Buffalo, New York, but Elizabeth Heston returned to her mother’s home for the delivery of her firstborn. “Sallie,” as she was called, grew up in the Buffalo area and attended East Aurora Academy, a female seminary. She later attributed the beginnings of her interest in cooking reform to her father’s poor health and delicate digestion resulting from service in the Civil War. Around 1869 the family returned to eastern Pennsylvania, and in 1871 Sallie Heston married William Albert Rorer, a clerk/bookkeeper, in Philadelphia’s Second Reformed Church. The couple had three children, one of whom died in early childhood....

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Vaughan, John (15 January 1756–30 December 1841), wine merchant, librarian, and philanthropist, was born in London, England, the son of Samuel Vaughan, a merchant in the Jamaica trade, and Sarah Hallowell of Boston, Massachusetts. The family were Whigs in politics, dissenters in religion, and lovers of science, humanity, and America. Destined by his father for a mercantile career, young Vaughan spent the year 1776–1777 in Jamaica and in 1778 was sent to France to learn French and gain further business experience, with a view to settling eventually in America. In France, where he was attached to a merchant firm in Bordeaux, he became intimate with ...