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Andrews, Stephen Pearl (22 March 1812–21 May 1886), eccentric philosopher and reformer, was born in Templeton, Massachusetts, the son of Elisha Andrews, a Baptist clergyman, and Wealthy Ann Lathrop. He attended the village school and, after the family moved to Hinsdale, New Hampshire, in 1816, was taught at home by his father. In 1828 and 1829 he studied in the classical department of Amherst Academy, where he was influenced by Professor ...

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Barnett, Jackson (01 January 1856?–29 May 1934), wealthy American Indian, was born in the Creek Nation, Indian Territory, the son of Siah Barnett, an African-Creek farmer, and Thlesothle, a Creek woman. During his childhood the Civil War violently split the Creek people, and the countryside was ravaged. Siah Barnett fled to Kansas with the Loyal Creeks. Thlesothle died in a refugee camp near Fort Gibson as the war ended. Given into the care of maternal relatives, the orphaned Jackson spent much of his youth and early adulthood transporting people and goods across the Arkansas River at John Leecher's ferry above Muskogee. While working as a ranch hand, Barnett fell from a horse and sustained a head injury. In the 1880s or early 1890s, Barnett relocated westward to the central Creek Nation, where he built a small cabin and established himself in a network of paternal kin. A shy man with a beaming smile, Barnett formed no romantic relationships with women. He spoke both English and Creek, but he had no schooling and led an obscure life as an unskilled laborer....

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Brooke, Abraham (1806–08 March 1867), physician and radical reformer, was born at Sandy Spring, Maryland, the son of Samuel Brooke and Sarah Garrigues, farmers. The Brooke family had been leading Quakers in Maryland for several generations, and Abraham attended Quaker schools at Sandy Spring before entering medical college in Baltimore. In 1829 he married Elizabeth Lukens, a fellow Quaker from Sandy Spring; they had three children. When the Hicksite-Orthodox schism took place among Quakers, the Brookes, like most Maryland Friends, sided with the Hicksite group....

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Fort, Charles Hoy (16 August 1874–03 May 1932), writer, was born in Albany, New York, the son of Charles Nelson Fort, a grocery wholesaler, and Agnes Hoy. Both parents were descendants of old and prominent Albany merchant families. Fort was an indifferent student as a child but was intrigued by science and earnestly collected birds’ eggs, insects, and rocks. When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he mystified his grandfather by answering, “a naturalist.” At seventeen he became a reporter for the ...

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Grace, Charles Emmanuel (25 January 1881–12 January 1960), Boyfriend of the World, better known as Daddy Grace or Sweet Daddy Grace or by his self-proclaimed title, was one of the more flamboyant African-American religious personalities of the twentieth century. He was born, probably as Marceline Manoel da Graca, in Brava, Cape Verde Islands, of mixed Portuguese and African ancestry, the son of Manuel de Graca and Gertrude Lomba. In the charismatic church that he founded and headed, however, he managed to transcend race by declaring, “I am a colorless man. I am a colorless bishop. Sometimes I am black, sometimes white. I preach to all races.” Like many other Cape Verdeans, Grace immigrated to New Bedford, Massachusetts, around the turn of the century and worked there and on Cape Cod as a short-order cook, a salesman of sewing machines and patent medicines and a cranberry picker....

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Norton, Joshua Abraham (1818 or 1819–08 January 1880), merchant and self-proclaimed emperor of the United States and protector of Mexico, was born in London, England, the son of John Norton, a farmer and merchant, and Sarah Simmonds Norton. In 1820 the Nortons immigrated to Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope (now South Africa)....

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Pratt, Daniel (11 April 1809–20 June 1887), wanderer, eccentric, and lecturer, was born in the Prattville section of Chelsea, Massachusetts, the son of Daniel Pratt, Jr., and Mary Hall. The roots of the distinguished Pratt family go back to revolutionary times; Daniel’s father was a humbler member of the strain. Daniel was the second of his ten children and outlived all of them except possibly one....

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Scott, Walter Edward (1870?–05 January 1954), prospector and publicist, also known as “Death Valley Scotty,” was born in Cynthiana, Kentucky, the son of a prosperous horse breeder. The names of his parents are not known. Dates suggested for his birth range from 1868 to 1876 (the date Scott himself claimed). At an early age Scott allegedly followed his older brother Warner to Nevada, where he was employed by a rancher, John Sparks. From there he went to Death Valley and reportedly drove a borax team at the Harmony Works in 1885. His subsequent job was as a sharpshooter and bronco rider for ...

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Eleazar Williams. Reproduction of a painting by Charles Loring Elliott. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-97676).

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Williams, Eleazar (1789?–28 August 1858), Native-American missionary and pretender to the throne of France, was born at Sault St. Louis, present-day Caughnawaga, on the south side of the St. Lawrence River opposite Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the son of Thomas Williams or Tehorakwanekin, a mixed-blood Indian, and Mary Ann Kenewatsenri, who was three-fourths Indian. Eleazar (or Lazare) Williams was the great-grandson of ...