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Armstrong, John (13 October 1717–09 March 1795), soldier, surveyor, and member of the Continental Congress, was born in County Fermanagh, Ulster, Ireland. The identities of his Scotch-Irish parents and circumstances of his youth are unclear, but his father may have been named James. A trained surveyor, John Armstrong evidently received some education fairly early in life. Sometime in the mid-1740s Armstrong immigrated to America, settling initially in Delaware and then in Pennsylvania, where he worked as a surveyor. It was probably at some point after his arrival in America that he married Rebeckah Armstrong. The couple had two sons (the younger, ...

Article

Bradley, William Czar (23 March 1782–04 March 1867), politician and attorney, was born in Westminster, Vermont, the son of Stephen Row Bradley, an attorney and U.S. senator, and Merab Atwater, who died soon after his birth. He contracted scarlet fever at age two, and it is likely that the disease resulted in hearing loss, which became pronounced. During his early years Bradley lived with his grandparents in Cheshire, Connecticut, and began school at Charlestown, New Hampshire....

Article

Clark, Abraham (15 February 1726–15 September 1794), surveyor, politician, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth), New Jersey, the son of Thomas Clark, a farmer, town alderman, and county judge, and Hannah Winans. Although he was referred to as “the poor man’s counsellor,” as far as is known he had no formal education or legal training, having turned as a young man to surveying and writing land conveyances because a “frail” constitution made him unfit for active farming. He did transact a good deal of legal business, including drawing up deeds, mortgages, and other papers. He married Sarah Hatfield (or Hetfield), probably in 1749. They had ten children, six or seven of whom survived childhood....

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Leeds, John (18 May 1705– March 1790), public official, surveyor, and mathematician, was born at Bay Hundred, Talbot County, Maryland, the son of Edward Leeds and Ruth Ball. Leeds, apparently self-educated, developed an expertise in mathematics and an interest in astronomy. He married Rachel Harrison in a Quaker ceremony in 1726; the couple had three daughters. He resided in Talbot County for his entire life and held a variety of public offices, beginning in 1734 as a justice of the peace....

Article

Maclay, Samuel (17 June 1741–05 October 1811), surveyor and politician, was born in Lurgan Township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, the son of Charles Maclay and Eleanor Query, both immigrants from Ireland. The details of his childhood are unknown, except that he was educated at the classical school of the Reverend Dr. Alison. During 1767–1768 Maclay was an assistant to his brother ...

Article

Maclay, William (20 July 1737–16 April 1804), surveyor, legislator, and diarist, was born in New Garden Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Charles Maclay and Eleanor Query, farmers, both of whom had emigrated from Lurgan in County Antrim, Ireland, three years earlier. In 1742 the family moved to what became Lurgan Township in Franklin County, three miles north of what is now Shippensburg. John Blair presided over an academy there at which William began his formal education. To further his studies he was sent to ...

Article

Smith, Daniel (17 October 1748–16 June 1818), revolutionary soldier, statesman, and surveyor, was born near Aquia Creek in Stafford County, Virginia, the son of Henry Smith and Sarah Crosby. The eldest of twelve children, he attended the College of William and Mary and then studied both law and medicine. However, he also learned the use of surveying instruments while still a teenager, and the demand for frontier surveys kept him occupied principally in that profession for most of his life....