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Downer, Silas (16 July 1729–15 December 1785), scrivener and lawyer, was born in Norwich, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Downer and Phebe Bishop, farmers. The family soon moved to Sunderland, Massachusetts. Downer entered Harvard in 1747 and was ranked twenty-eighth in a class of thirty. Since Harvard students were then ranked according to their family’s social standing, Downer’s low ranking indicates his relatively humble origins. As an undergraduate, he won Brattle and Hollis scholarships. After receiving an M.A. in 1750, he moved to Rhode Island, settled in Providence, and became a scrivener. He married Sarah Kelton in 1758; within a decade the couple had five children....

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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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Gein, Edward (27 August 1906–26 July 1984), basis for Alfred Hitchcock's classic terror film Psycho, whose ghoulish crimes became the basis for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic terror film Psycho, was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the son of George Gein and Augusta Loehrke, farmers. In 1913 the family (which also included Gein’s older brother, Henry) moved to a small dairy farm near Camp Douglas, forty miles east of La Crosse. Less than one year later, they relocated again—this time permanently—to a 195-acre farm six miles west of Plainfield, a remote, tiny village in the south central part of the state....