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Couch, Harvey Crowley (21 August 1877–30 July 1941), entrepreneur, was born in Calhoun, Arkansas, the son of Thomas Gratham Couch, a preacher and farmer, and Manie Heard. The Couches were of Welsh extraction. Harvey Couch grew up in rural poverty with little formal schooling until the illness of his father led the family to give up farming and move to Magnolia, Arkansas, where at age seventeen Couch completed his education at the Magnolia Academy. He credited his education to a teacher, Pat Neff, later a governor of Texas....

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Elihu Thomson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102513).

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Thomson, Elihu (29 March 1853–13 March 1937), inventor and industrialist, was born in Manchester, England, the son of Daniel Thomson, a mechanic, and Mary Ann Rhodes, both Scots. The Thomsons were driven to the United States in 1858 by unemployment and settled in the rapidly industrializing Southwark neighborhood of Philadelphia. A precocious student, Thomson finished grammar school at age nine, passed the entrance exam for Philadelphia’s highly competitive Central High School two years later, and, too young to enter the program, studied science and experimented on his own until beginning his four-year training at the high school at age thirteen. Mentored by Professor ...

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Weston, Edward (09 May 1850–20 August 1936), electrical engineer, inventor, and industrialist, was born at Brynn Castle, near Oswestry, County Shropshire, England, the son of Edward Weston, a carpenter and mechanic, and Margaret Jones. When Weston was seven years old, his family moved to Wolverhampton, part of England’s highly industrialized “Black Country.” After his education in the town’s grade schools, he attended St. Peter’s Collegiate Institute. He studied chemistry and physics privately there with a fellow of the London Chemical Society, Henry A. Horton. Contrary to Weston’s wishes, his parents insisted that he pursue a medical career. A three-year-long apprenticeship convinced Weston that medicine was not his field. In spite of his parents’ bitter opposition, Weston abandoned that field of study in 1870 and went to London, intending to find work in a scientific field. When this hope proved futile, Weston disappointed his parents still more by leaving to seek opportunities in the United States....