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Aiken, George David (20 August 1892–19 November 1984), farmer and U.S. senator, was born in Dummerston, Vermont, the son of Edward W. Aiken and Myra Cook, farmers. He attended high school in Brattleboro. In 1914 he married Beatrice M. Howard; they had four children. His first wife died in 1966, and a year later Aiken married one of his Senate aides, Lola Pierotti....

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Alden, John (1599?–12 September 1687), farmer and magistrate, was one of the original settlers of Plymouth Colony, arriving in New England on the Mayflower in 1620. No definite information exists about his birth, parentage, childhood, or education. In 1620 he lived at Southampton, England, where the migrating Pilgrims stopped for provisions on their way from the Netherlands to the New World. There he was hired as the ship’s cooper in charge of its supply of beer and drinking water. Upon landfall, Alden joined in signing the now famous Mayflower Compact. After the colonists’ arrival in Plymouth, Governor ...

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Banneker, Benjamin (09 November 1731–19 October 1806), farmer and astronomer, was born near the Patapsco River in Baltimore County in what became the community of Oella, Maryland, the son of Robert, a freed slave, and Mary Banneky, a daughter of a freed slave named Bannka and Molly Welsh, a freed English indentured servant who had been transported to Maryland. Banneker was taught by his white grandmother to read and write from a Bible. He had no formal education other than a brief attendance at a Quaker one-room school during winter months. He was a voracious reader, informing himself in his spare time in literature, history, religion, and mathematics with whatever books he could borrow. From an early age he demonstrated a talent for mathematics and for creating and solving mathematical puzzles. With his three sisters he grew up on his father’s tobacco farm, and for the rest of his life Banneker continued to live in a log house built by his father....

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Bush, George Washington (1790?–05 April 1863), pioneer, farmer, and cattleman, was born probably in Pennsylvania or Louisiana. His mother was Scotch-Irish, his father perhaps East Indian; little is known of Bush’s birth and ancestry. He may have been born as early as 1770. However, that would have made him seventy-four by the time he came to Oregon in 1844. Oral tradition among the family gives the date as 1779....

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Carpenter, Cyrus Clay (24 November 1829–29 May 1898), politician and farmer, was born in Harford, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, the son of Asahel Carpenter, a farmer, and Amanda Thayer. Orphaned during his early teens and raised by relatives, Carpenter attended public school in Harford. Between 1848 and 1851 he alternated teaching jobs with attendance at Harford Academy. During these early years he developed the temperance and antislavery views that he held during his adult years....

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Laura Clay. Pencil on paper, 1912, by Wallace Morgan. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Clay, Laura (09 February 1849–29 June 1941), farm manager and women's rights leader, farm manager and women’s rights leader, was born at “White Hall,” her family’s estate, located between Lexington and Richmond, Kentucky, the daughter of Cassius M. Clay, a notable politician, emancipationist, and diplomat, and Mary Jane Warfield. Clay’s formal education was interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War, when the family accompanied her father to Russia, where he had been appointed U.S. minister. Returning to Kentucky in 1862, she attended Sayre School in Lexington, graduating in 1865. Aside from a year at a finishing school in New York City and brief stints of study at the Universities of Michigan and Kentucky, this completed her formal education. In 1873 she leased a 300-acre farm from her father and became its owner upon his death in 1903. Describing herself as a “practical farmer,” she skillfully managed this rich Bluegrass land, deriving from it her own livelihood and most of the finances for her long public career....

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Colden, Cadwallader, II (26 May 1722–18 February 1797), farmer, public official, and Loyalist, was born in New York City, the son of Cadwallader Colden, a physician, scientist, and colonial official, and Alice Christie. In 1727 the family moved to the Ulster County, New York, estate of “Coldengham,” where Colden received an informal education from his mother. He also learned surveying, which enabled him to serve later as deputy to his father, the surveyor general of the colony. But Cadwallader neither showed the intellectual brilliance that distinguished his father and younger siblings David and ...

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Cooper, Joseph Alexander (25 November 1823–20 May 1910), farmer and army officer, was born near Cumberland Falls, Whitley County, Kentucky, the son of John Cooper, a farmer. His mother’s name is unknown. While Cooper was still a child, his family moved to a farm on Cove Creek in Campbell County, Tennessee. In 1846 he married Mary J. Hutson; the number of their children, if any, is unknown. The following year he joined the Fourth Tennessee Volunteer Infantry Regiment to fight in the Mexican War. After returning from the war, he took up farming near Jacksboro, Tennessee....

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Corey, Giles (1612?–16 September 1692), farmer, was born in England, probably of a farm family. His parents’ names and occupations are not known. Little is known of Corey’s early life, and he appears in Massachusetts records only in court cases and contemporary accounts of his death. Corey was apparently married twice, the first time to Mary (maiden name unknown), the second time to Martha Rich ( ...

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Deitz, John F. (03 April 1861–08 May 1924), farmer and outlaw, was born in Winneconne, Wisconsin, the son of John Deitz (also spelled Dietz), Sr., a New York farmer who moved to Wisconsin before the Civil War. His mother’s name and occupation are unknown. A few years after the war, the Deitz family moved north and west, seeking cheap farmland in the logged-over region of Wisconsin known as the Cutover. John, Jr., grew up in a log cabin, attended common school, and as a young man dabbled in real estate, ran for minor local offices, and eked out a marginal existence from a small farm. Like many another backwoods farmer, he also hunted, trapped, did odd jobs, and seasonally worked for the logging companies. In 1882 he married Hattie Young, a part-time schoolteacher, with whom he had six children....

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Delafield, John (22 January 1786–22 October 1853), merchant, banker, and farmer, was born in New York City, the son of John Delafield, a merchant, and Ann Hallett. The younger Delafield grew up in the city and on his father’s summer residence, “Sunwick,” on the East River, opposite Blackwell’s Island. Because of his father’s success in the merchant trade, Delafield enjoyed every privilege in his youth and attended Columbia College. Upon his graduation in 1802, he set out at once in his father’s footsteps by becoming a confidential agent and supercargo aboard a merchant vessel....

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Dickson, David (06 July 1809–18 February 1885), cotton planter and agricultural reformer, was born in Hancock County, Georgia, the son of Thomas Dickson and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown), farmers. Thomas Dickson was a Virginia revolutionary war veteran who migrated to southern Georgia. David spent his boyhood on his parents’ farm, where he received only a common school education. At age twenty-two Dickson began a successful fourteen-year career as a merchant in Sparta, Georgia. Coveting the social status reserved for planters, Dickson in 1845 purchased a farm of 266 acres; stocked it with slaves, livestock, and farm implements; and for a time abandoned his career in merchandising to become a full-time agriculturist. Because his soil was infertile, in 1846 he applied Peruvian guano, a fertilizer that had first become available in the United States the previous year, on some of his crops. The resulting improvement in crop yields was so dramatic that Dickson soon developed a new system of culture based on heavy usage of guano, in conjunction with deep plowing and shallow cultivation. When chemical fertilizers came on the market during the 1850s, Dickson empirically experimented with various mixtures of guano and chemicals until he found a combination that was very effective on his land. Dickson capitalized on his success by manufacturing and marketing his fertilizer throughout the Southeast....

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Dummer, William (1677–10 October 1761), politician, lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, and farmer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Jeremiah Dummer, a silversmith, and Anna (or Hannah) Atwater. Born to wealthy parents, he was part of Boston’s Puritan elite. On 20 April 1714, he married Catherine Dudley, the daughter of Governor ...

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Favill, Henry Baird (14 August 1860–20 February 1916), physician, civic leader, and farmer, was born in Madison, Wisconsin, the son of John Favill, a physician, and Louise Sophia Baird. Through his mother, Favill descended from the Ottawa chief, Kewinoquot (“Returning Cloud”), and took pride in this ancestry. Henry received his early education in the Madison schools, graduating from high school in 1876. He entered the University of Wisconsin that fall, took the classical course, and received his B.A. in 1880. Although his father had taken his M.D. at the Harvard Medical School, Favill entered Rush Medical College in the fall of 1880. For two years he served as prosector to Charles T. Parkes, professor of anatomy. His grades were so high that in his senior year he filled in at Cook County and St. Luke’s hospitals for several interns when they were ill or on vacation and so obtained valuable practical experience. He received his M.D. in 1883....

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George William Featherstonhaugh. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114323).

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Featherstonhaugh, George William (09 April 1780–27 September 1866), gentleman-farmer, scientist, and diplomat, was born in London, England, the son of George Featherstonhaugh, a manufacturer, and Dorothy Simpson, a shopkeeper. Educated at Stepney House, a private school near Scarborough, Featherstonhaugh spent his youth traveling in Europe and until 1804 was the commercial agent on the Continent for several British import-export firms. After two years working in the London office of Thomas Dickason & Co., Featherstonhaugh moved in 1806 to New York City, where he met Sarah Duane, daughter of a former mayor of New York and owner of a large estate near Schenectady. After their marriage in November 1808, they moved to a country mansion on the estate—now named “Featherston Park”—at Duanesburg, where Featherstonhaugh farmed 2,000 acres, concentrating on sheep and cattle breeding. He and Duane had two sons and two daughters....

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Glidden, Joseph Farwell (18 January 1813–09 October 1906), farmer, inventor, and capitalist, was born in Charlestown, Sullivan County, New Hampshire, the son of David Glidden and Polly Hurd, farmers. His family moved west to Orleans County, New York, when he was an infant. After attending local district schools, he studied at Middlebury Academy in Genesee County and at the seminary in Lima, New York. He taught school in the area for several years, but farming was always his first love. In 1837 he married Clarissa Foster in Clarendon, New York. Lacking funds to buy land in New York, he headed west in about 1840 with two crude threshing machines, doing custom threshing and general farm work. In 1842 he settled in De Kalb County, Illinois, where he purchased 600 acres of prairie land on the edge of De Kalb village. The death of the Gliddens’ three young children, followed by the death of his wife in 1843, left Glidden alone until 1851, when he married Lucinda Warne of De Kalb. They had one daughter....

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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....