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Gorrie, John (03 October 1802?–29 June 1855), physician and inventor, was born either in Charlestown on the island of Nevis, West Indies, or Charleston, South Carolina, of uncertain parentage. Because of his olive complexion and dark hair and eyes, some say his mother fled Spain for the West Indies where she bore John illegitimately. Mother and son accompanied Captain Gorrie, a Scots officer in the Spanish navy, to Charleston when John was twelve to eighteen months old in 1803. Gorrie left them in Charleston, and she received money from Spain until John graduated from college. Other accounts list Charleston as his birthplace in 1803 and his nationality as Scotch-Irish....

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Locke, John (19 February 1792–10 July 1856), educator, scientist, and inventor, was born in Lempster, New Hampshire, the son of Samuel Barron Locke, a farmer and miller, and Hannah Russell. He was raised in Maine on his family’s settlement, now known as Locke Mills. In 1815 Locke studied chemistry and natural philosophy with ...

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Pritikin, Nathan (29 August 1915–21 February 1985), inventor and nutritionist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Jacob Pritikin, an outdoor sign salesman, and Esther Leavitt. Nathan’s nurturing parents supported and encouraged their enterprising son. In 1933 he enrolled in the University of Chicago. The ambitious student also owned Flash Foto, a prosperous photography business. In 1935 Pritikin withdrew from college and made a fortune inventing technical gadgets....

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Rains, George Washington (1817–21 March 1898), soldier, scientist, engineer, and educator, was born in Craven County, North Carolina, the son of Gabriel M. Rains and Hester Ambrose. Rains graduated third in his 1842 class of the U.S. Military Academy. He was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers but transferred to the artillery. In 1844 Rains was detached to West Point as assistant professor of chemistry, geology, and mineralogy. He served with distinction in the war with Mexico and was breveted captain for gallantry at the battles of Contreras and Churubusco and major for gallantry at Chapultepec. Following postings in the South and Northeast, he resigned his commission in 1856, the same year he married Francis Josephine Ramsdell. The number of their children, if any, is unknown. He served as president of the Washington Iron Works and then the Highland Iron Works, both in Newburgh, New York. Rains joined the ranks of soldier-inventors produced by West Point, when in 1860–1861 he patented several inventions relating to steam engines and boilers....