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Burt, Struthers (18 October 1882–29 August 1954), poet, prose writer, and rancher, was born Maxwell Struthers Burt in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Horace Brooke Burt, a Philadelphia lawyer then in Baltimore on business, and Hester Ann Jones. From the age of six months, Burt grew up in Philadelphia, attended private schools there, and became the youngest reporter in Philadelphia, working on the ...

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Dymond, John (03 May 1836–05 March 1922), planter, publisher, and politician, was born in Canada (exact location unrecorded), the son of Richard Dymond, a Methodist minister, and Anne Hawkens. During his early childhood Dymond’s family moved to Zanesville, Ohio, where he was educated in the local public schools and the Zanesville Academy before entering Bartlett’s College, a business school in Cincinnati. Following his graduation from Bartlett’s in 1857 he took a job as a clerk with his father, who had by that time established himself in the mercantile trade. He then toyed with the cotton manufacturing business in partnership with Homer White (trading under the name White & Dymond) before moving to New York City, where, on the eve of the Civil War, he took a job as a traveling salesman with a firm whose name has not survived. He returned to Zanesville on 3 June 1862 to marry Nancy Elizabeth Cassidy; they had six children....

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Gresham, Newt (20 February 1858–10 April 1906), labor organizer and editor, was born Isaac Newton Gresham in Lauderdale County, near Florence, Alabama, the son of Henry Gresham and Marcipia Narcissa Wilcoxon, tenant farmers. The family moved to Kaufman County, Texas, in 1859 (though some sources claim they moved after the Civil War). After his parents’ deaths in 1868, Gresham lived with his older brother Ben....

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Heard, Dwight Bancroft (01 May 1869–14 March 1929), investment banker, farmer, and publisher, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Leander Bradford Heard, a wholesale grocer, and Lucy Bancroft. His father died in 1882. After Heard finished high school in Brookline, Massachusetts, his mother moved the family to Chicago, where Heard began work at the hardware sellers Hibbard, Spencer & Bartlett. The wife of the firm’s president, Adolphus Bartlett, was a distant relative of Heard, who quickly became Bartlett’s protégé. Heard was the company’s specialist in credit sales in Wisconsin and much of the Midwest. In 1893 he married Maie Pitkin Bartlett, Adolphus Bartlett’s daughter; they had one child....

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Heaton, Hannah Cook (1721–1794), diarist and farm woman, was born in Southampton, Long Island, New York, the daughter of Jonathan Cook, a surgeon, and Temperance Rogers. Little is known of her early life or education. In 1743 she married Theophilus Heaton, Jr., of North Haven, Connecticut. They and their two sons lived on farms in North Haven for the rest of their lives....

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Lamar, John Basil (05 November 1812–15 September 1862), writer and planter, was born in Milledgeville, Georgia, the son of Zachariah Lamar, a merchant and planter, and Mary Ann Robinson. Lamar attended Nathan S. S. Beman’s school at Mt. Zion, Georgia, and the University of Georgia for one year (1827–1828). He never married. After 1830 his main residence was in Macon in a house that he called the Bear’s Den. He also had a house in Americus, Georgia, near the plantations that he managed. He owned land in thirteen Georgia counties and Florida....

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Love, Nat ( June 1854–1921), cowboy and author, was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, the son of Sampson Love and a mother whose name is unknown. Both were slaves owned by Robert Love, whom Nat described as a “kind and indulgent Master.” Nat Love’s father was a foreman over other slaves; his mother, a cook. The family remained with Robert Love after the end of the Civil War....

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MacDonald, Betty (26 March 1908–07 February 1958), author and farmer, was born Anne Elizabeth Campbell Bard in Boulder, Colorado, the daughter of Darsie Campbell Bard, a mining engineer, and Elsie Tholimar Sanderson, an artist. Until she was nine, when her family settled in Seattle, MacDonald moved with her family from one mining project to another in the Far West and Mexico....

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Percy, William Alexander (14 May 1885–21 January 1942), author and planter, was born in Greenville, Mississippi, the son of LeRoy Percy, an attorney and U.S. senator, and Camille Bourges. He graduated from the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1904, spent a year abroad, and attended Harvard University Law School, receiving his law degree in 1908....

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Polk, Leonidas LaFayette (24 April 1837–11 June 1892), farm editor and national president of the Farmers' Alliance, farm editor and national president of the Farmers’ Alliance, was born in Anson County, North Carolina, the son of Andrew Polk and Serena Autry, farmers. Although he would become a leader of the nation’s poor and militant farmers, Polk grew up in relatively affluent surroundings. His father’s ownership of 1,800 acres and thirty-two slaves placed him in the lower ranks of the planter class....

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Robinson, Rowland Evans (14 May 1833–15 October 1900), author and farmer, was born in Ferrisburg, Vermont, the son of Rowland Thomas Robinson and Rachael Gilpin, farmers. Both parents were Quakers. The prominent abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison was a friend of the family. During young Rowland’s childhood the Robinsons’ farmhouse provided accommodations for slaves fleeing to Canada via the Underground Railroad. Memories of his parents’ abolitionist activities later served Robinson in his writing....

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Rodale, J. I. (16 August 1898–07 June 1971), health food publisher, was born Jerome Irving Cohen in New York City, the son of Michael Cohen, a capmaker and grocer, and Bertha Rouda. Both parents were Polish immigrants. Rodale studied at New York and Columbia Universities but did not earn any degrees. At age twenty he became an auditor for the Internal Revenue Service, and at twenty-one he moved to Pittsburgh, where he worked in a private accounting firm for three years. He wanted, however, for some vague reason that he never explained, to be a farmer and publisher. In 1920 he traveled to Kentucky on business and became enchanted with the Bluegrass State. “Being among farmers and in farm country I was more and more imbued with the ambition of some day having my own farm and riding to town with my children on a buck-board drawn by two trusty horses.”...

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Will Rogers Left, with Will Hays, c. 1925. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-83080).

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Rogers, Will (04 November 1879–15 August 1935), entertainer and social commentator, was born William Penn Adair Rogers near Oologah, Oklahoma, in what was then the Cooweescoowee District of Indian Territory, the son of Clement Vann Rogers and Mary America Schrimsher, Cherokee ranchers. Rogers County, which contains both Oologah, site of the historic Rogers home, and Claremore, site of the Will Rogers Memorial and Museum, is named after the prominent father, not the prominent son. “Uncle Clem” was a major player in Oklahoma politics before and after statehood (1907), serving as a judge, as a member of the Dawes Commission (to distribute Indian lands prior to statehood), and as the first local banker. Will’s loving wife, the former Betty Blake, whom he married in 1908, later remembered that “Will had everything he wanted. He had spending money and the best string of cow ponies in the country. No boy in Indian Territory had more than Uncle Clem’s boy.” (Yet being “Uncle Clem’s boy” could have its downside, too.)...

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Charles M. Russell. Photographic print, late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114799).

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Russell, Charles Marion (19 March 1864–24 October 1926), artist and author, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Charles Silas Russell, a wealthy businessman, and Mary Elizabeth Mead. As a child, Russell always preferred modeling in clay, drawing, and playing hooky. In 1879 his parents sent him to a military academy in New Jersey, but after a year they relented and allowed him to realize his dream of becoming a cowboy. He moved to the Judith Basin in Montana, where he tended sheep (1880), did chores for a hunter and trapper (1881–1882), and sketched western activities and scenery in his spare time. After a visit back in St. Louis for a month in 1882, he returned to the Great Northwest as a horse wrangler and cow puncher for several Montana cattlemen (1882–1893), but he continued to sketch and paint as much as he could....

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Siringo, Charles Angelo (07 February 1855–18 October 1928), cowboy, detective, and author, was born on Matagorda Peninsula, in Texas, the son of an Italian immigrant (first name unavailable) and Irish-born Bridgit White, farmers. His mother was widowed in 1856, married a drunkard named Carrier in 1868, lived with and then without him in Lebanon, Illinois, and next moved to St. Louis. Siringo had no schooling during the Civil War years in Texas, became a cowboy at age eleven, ran cattle for an employer named Faldien, worked at odd jobs in Lebanon (1868–1869), and was a bellhop for a year in a St. Louis hotel. After a fight with another employee he made his way to New Orleans, where he was befriended by a childless couple who sent him to school until a near-fatal knife fight, which he won, caused him to decamp for Texas in 1871....

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Henry C. Wallace Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-95943).

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Henry Cantwell Wallace, c. 1922–1924. With a parrot resting on his left hand. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96673).

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Wallace, Henry Cantwell (11 May 1866–25 October 1924), farmer, editor, and U.S. secretary of agriculture, was born in Rock Island, Illinois, the son of Henry “Uncle Henry” Wallace, a Presbyterian minister, and Nancy Ann “Nannie” Cantwell. In 1877 he moved with his family to Winterset, Iowa, where his father began farming as well as writing a weekly agricultural column for the Winterset ...