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George Taylor. Lithograph, 1876. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-6117)


Taylor, George (01 January 1716?–23 February 1781), ironmaster and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born into circumstances that remain obscure. Virtually nothing is known with certainty about his early life, but he may have been born in northern Ireland (although at least one source suggests a connection with the Taylor family of Derbyshire, England). The names and occupations of his parents are likewise unknown, although sources suggest that his father was either a clergyman or a well-established lawyer. In any event, he must have had some early education prior to his arrival in North America in 1736, when he settled in East Nantmeal Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and took a job under Samuel Savage, Jr., at the Warwick Furnace. He evidently came to America through the use of his own resources; earlier reports that had him arriving in the colonies as a redemptioner appear to be without foundation. By 1739 Taylor held the position of bookkeeper at the Furnace and later became manager of another nearby iron mill, Coventry Forge....


Wisner, Henry (1720–04 March 1790), revolutionary powder maker and legislator, was born in Goshen, New York, the son of Hendrick Wisner and Mary Shaw, farmers. As a farm boy, Henry had little formal education, but his ability and energy led to local prominence as justice of the peace and as assistant justice of the Court of Common Pleas of Orange County in 1768 or 1769. He represented Orange County in the New York colonial assembly, 1759–1769, and in 1759 the assembly adopted his bill facilitating the drainage of the annually submerged marshes of the Wallkill River....