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Cotter, Joseph Seamon, Sr. (02 February 1861–14 March 1949), teacher, author, and civic leader, was born in Bardstown, Kentucky, the son of Michael (also spelled Micheil) Cotter, a boarding house owner, and Martha Vaughn. Although his father was known as an avid reader, Cotter was raised largely by his mother, a freeborn woman of mixed English, Cherokee, and African blood. It was from her naturally dramatic manner—she orally composed poems and plays as she worked at chores—that he acquired his love of language and stories. Having taught herself, she also taught Cotter to read and enrolled him in school, but at age eight economic necessity forced him to drop out and begin working at various jobs: in a brickyard, then a distillery, and finally as a ragpicker and a teamster. Until age twenty-two, manual labor consumed much of Cotter’s life....

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Rivera, Tomás (22 December 1935–16 May 1984), novelist, poet, and university administrator, was born in Crystal City, Texas, the son of Florencio Rivera Martínez and Josefa Hernández Gutiérrez, migrant farmworkers. From his early years until 1954, Rivera traveled with his family, joining the migrant stream that left Crystal City around mid-April, searching for farm work as far north as Michigan and Minnesota and returning around the beginning of November. Years later, in much of his writings, and especially in his novel ...