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Ballou, Adin (23 April 1803–05 August 1890), Universalist clergyman, reformer, and founder of Hopedale Community, was born in Cumberland, Rhode Island, the son of Ariel Ballou and Edilda Tower, farmers. A largely self-educated preacher, Ballou’s earliest religious experience was Calvinist in nature, and he later recalled the “very solemnizing effect” of the preaching he heard as a youth. At about age eleven, however, Ballou experienced a religious conversion, and a year later he was baptized into a Christian Connection church that emphasized a more enthusiastic and fundamentalist religiosity. Ballou developed a deep interest in religious matters over the next several years and eventually became a self-proclaimed preacher. At age eighteen, in the autumn of 1821, he was received into the fellowship of the Connecticut Christian Conference, a Christian Connection body. In 1822 he married Abigail Sayles; they had two children before Abigail died in 1829....

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Bishop, Charles Reed (25 January 1822–07 June 1915), banker, cabinet minister, and philanthropist, was born near Glens Falls, New York, the son of Samuel Bishop, a toll collector on the Hudson River, and Maria Reed. Charles’s mother died when he was two years old, and his father remarried. He was cared for first by an aunt and then by his paternal grandfather on whose farm he received an education in hard work and practical business. His only formal education was at Glens Falls Academy, which he attended in the seventh and eighth grades. Around 1838, after leaving school, he became a clerk in a mercantile house in Warrensburgh, New York, where he learned the intricacies of bookkeeping, inventory, and other business skills. In 1842 he moved to Sandy Hill, New York, to take a job as a bookkeeper and head clerk....

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Bright Eyes. Courtesy of the Nebraska State Historical Society.

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Bright Eyes (1854–26 May 1903), Indian rights advocate and author, also known as Inshtatheamba or Susette La Flesche, was born on the Omaha Reservation near Bellevue, Nebraska, just south of present-day Omaha, the daughter of Joseph La Flesche, also known as Inshtamaza or Iron Eye, a chief of the Omaha, and his wife Mary Gale, a mixed-blood Omaha and Iowa whose Indian name was The One Woman. Susette’s paternal grandparents were a Frenchman, also named Joseph, who was a trader and trapper for the Hudson’s Bay Company in Canada, and either an Omaha or Ponca woman named Watunna. Because her husband often was away trading or trapping, Watunna left him and married a member of the Omaha tribe. For a while the younger Joseph La Flesche was raised by two aunts who spent part of their time among the Sioux. Later, when his father returned, the younger La Flesche joined him when he once again left on his trading expeditions....

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Vine Deloria Jr. Photograph by Cyrus McCrimmon Associated Press

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Deloria, Vine, Jr. (26 March 1933–13 November 2005), Native-American activist, writer, and lawyer, was born Vine Victor Deloria, Jr., near the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux Indian Reservation in Martin, South Dakota, the son of Vine Victor Deloria, Sr., an Episcopalian priest and missionary who served as archdeacon and assistant secretary of Indian missions for the National Episcopal Church, and Barbara Eastburn. Vine Deloria, Sr., was the grandson of Saswe, whose Christian name was François Des Lauriers, the son of a French fur trader and a Native-American mother. Saswe (the Dakota pronunciation of François) was a noted Sioux shaman and the leader of a mixed-blood band that adopted Christianity. Saswe's son, the father of Vine Deloria, Sr., was the influential Sioux chief Philip Joseph Deloria, one of the first Native Americans to become an Episcopal priest....

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Charles A. Eastman. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102275).

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Eastman, Charles Alexander (19 February 1858–08 January 1939), Indian author and reformer, was born near Redwood Falls, Minnesota, the son of Ite Wakanhdi Ota (Many Lightnings), a Wahpeton Sioux, and Wakantankanwin (Goddess), whose English name was Mary Nancy Eastman, the mixed-blood daughter of Captain Seth Eastman, the noted artist, and Wakan inajin win (Stands Sacred). Eastman’s mother died from complications as a result of his birth. His paternal grandmother and later his uncle raised him in the traditional ways of a Sioux boy. In 1862 he received the name Ohiyesa—meaning “the winner”—when his band defeated another in a lacrosse game. He used the name in conjunction with the English name he acquired later in his life....

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Graffenried, Christoph, Baron von (15 November 1661– November 1743), promoter of Swiss and German settlement in early North Carolina and founder of New Bern, was born in the village of Worb near Bern, Switzerland, the son of Anton von Graffenried, lord of Worb, and Catherine Jenner. After studying at the Universities of Heidelberg and Leyden, he visited England about 1680, where he met the duke of Albemarle, Sir John Colleton, and other Lords Proprietors of Carolina. In 1683 he returned home and in 1684 married Regina Tscharner, with whom he had thirteen children....

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Harris, John (1726–30 July 1791), ferryman, Indian trader, and founder of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was born in Paxton, Pennsylvania, the son of John Harris, a trader and brewer, and Esther Say. Harris, often designated “the founder” to distinguish him from his father, apparently had little formal education, although he was literate. Harris’s father arrived in Philadelphia from England in the early eighteenth century with very little in the way of financial resources. He worked for a time as a laborer, but through a friendship with Philadelphia’s first mayor, ...

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Jones, Buffalo ( January 1844–01 October 1919), frontiersman, rancher, and conservationist, was born Charles Jesse Jones in Tazewell County, Illinois, the son of Noah Nicholas Jones and Jane Munden; the exact date of his birth is unclear. His father often served as an election judge and reportedly once hired ...

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Lorimier, Louis ( March 1748–26 June 1812), trader, Indian agent, and founder of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, was born probably in Lachine, Canada, the son of Claude-Nicolas de la Rivière de Lorimier, a French colonial officer and commander of La Présentation (Ogdensburg, N.Y.), and Marie-Louise Lepailleur de Laferté. Louis came west with his father in 1769 and at the outbreak of the American Revolution was trading with the Miami Indians on the Wabash. Because of his influence with and knowledge of the Indians, he was employed by the British to rally the tribes to the king’s cause and to direct them against American settlements in Kentucky and elsewhere. At Christmas 1776 he moved to the Shawnee country in present-day Ohio and soon established a trading post on Lorimier’s Creek at the headwaters of the Great Miami River. He acquired a facility with the Shawnee language and established an unusual rapport with the tribesmen. In February 1778 Lorimier was one of two Frenchmen who accompanied ...

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Menéndez de Avilés, Pedro (15 February 1519–17 September 1574), captain general of the armada of the Indies and adelantado of Florida, was born in northern Spain, in the Asturian seaport of Avilés, the son of Juan Alfonso Sánchez and María Alonso de Arango. A descendant of minor hidalgos, he was connected by blood and marriage to several noble families, but as one of the youngest of twenty children, he could count on little else. Raised by relatives after his father died and his mother remarried, Pedro married a distant cousin, María de Solís, with whom he would have four children; invested his patrimony in a small, rapid sailing vessel; and became an unlicensed privateer....

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Morton, Thomas (1580–1647), colonist and writer, was born probably in the West Country of England. His identification on the title page of his New English Canaan (1637)—as “of Cliffords Inne gent”—shows that he had studied law. In his book he refers to himself as the son of a soldier and identifies himself as “having bin bred in so genious a way” that he “had the common use” of hunting hawks. Almost nothing is known otherwise of his parentage or his rearing. Morton was a traveler, for, in addition to his three trips to New England in the 1620s and 1640s, he reports that he had been so near the equator that “I had the sun for my zenith.” On 6 November 1621 he was married to Alice Miller, a widow. Other evidence shows that he was, according to the social standards of his day, a gentleman and a person of means....

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Rickard, Clinton (19 May 1882–14 June 1971), Indian rights advocate, was born on the Tuscarora Reservation, near Lewiston, New York, the son of George Rickard and Lucy Garlow, farmers. Rickard’s family frequently suffered hardship, and food was often scarce as he was growing up. His mother supplemented a meager family income by taking in washing. Rickard went to reservation schools until age sixteen, completing the Third Reader....

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Scholte, H. P. (25 September 1805–25 August 1868), Reformed cleric, journalist, and founder of the Pella, Iowa, Dutch colony, was born Hendrik Pieter Scholte in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the son of Jan Hendrik Scholte, a sugar box factory owner, and Johanna Dorothea Roelofsz. The Scholte family for generations operated sugar refineries in Amsterdam, and young Hendrik, called “H. P.,” was destined to carry on the business tradition. Religiously, the family members were “outsiders” who belonged to a pietistic German Lutheran congregation rather than the national Dutch Reformed church, headed by the monarchy. The death of his father, grandfather, only brother, and mother, all within six years (1821–1827), freed Scholte to use his inheritance to enroll as a theology student at Leiden University. In 1832 he married Sara Maria Brandt. They would have five children before her death in 1844....

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Stevens, John Harrington (13 June 1820–28 May 1900), Minnesota pioneer and founder of Minneapolis, was born to Gardner Stevens and Deborah Harrington when they were living temporarily in Brompton Falls, Lower Canada, near the Vermont border. He was reared mainly in Vermont, where he attended common schools before leaving home at age fifteen to join an older brother in Wisconsin’s lead mining region. In 1840, when serving in the Wisconsin territorial militia during the removal of the Winnebago west of the Mississippi River, he became acquainted with territorial governor ...

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Williams, Samuel May (04 October 1795–13 September 1858), Texas colonizer, city founder, and banker, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Howell Williams, a sea captain, and Dorothy Wheat. After local schooling, young Sam served around 1810 as an apprentice in his uncle Nathaniel Felton Williams’s commission house in Baltimore, Maryland, and he soon journeyed as supercargo to Buenos Aires. Naval activities associated with the War of 1812 prevented his return to the United States until after 1815, allowing Williams time to master the Spanish language and culture....