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Carson, Kit (24 December 1809–23 May 1868), mountain man, army officer, and Indian agent, was born Christopher Houston Carson in Madison County, Kentucky, the son of Lindsey Carson, a farmer and revolutionary war veteran, and Rebecca Robinson. In 1811 Lindsey Carson moved his family to Howard County, Missouri, to find “elbow room.” He died in 1818, hit by a falling limb while clearing timber from his land. Christopher enjoyed no schooling and never learned to read or write, other than signing his name to documents. In 1825 his mother and stepfather apprenticed him to David Workman, a Franklin, Missouri, saddler whom Kit described as a kind and good man. Nevertheless, he ran away because he found saddlemaking tedious and distasteful work and yearned to travel. Following in the footsteps of a brother and a half-brother who were in the Santa Fe trade, Carson joined a caravan as a “cavvy boy” (an assistant to the wrangler in charge of the horse and mule herd). Though not unsympathetic, Workman was obliged by law to advertise for his runaway. But he misleadingly suggested to readers of the ...

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Taylor, Zachary (24 November 1784–09 July 1850), army hero and twelfth U.S. president, was born in Orange County, Virginia, the son of Richard Taylor, a revolutionary war officer and pioneer political leader, and Sarah Strother, a cousin of James Madison and Robert E. Lee...

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York, Alvin Cullum (13 December 1887–02 September 1964), World War I soldier, was born in Pall Mall, Tennessee, the son of William York and Mary Brooks, farmers. A skillful hunter and marksman, York worked as a farmer, a laborer, and a blacksmith before the war. He received approximately three years of formal schooling. His drinking and brawling earned him a reputation as a local rowdy, but an emotional religious experience in 1915 prompted him to join the Church of Christ in Christian Union, a deeply conservative congregation originally founded in reaction to the carnage of the Civil War period. Because church members rejected violence, York sought conscientious objector status when the United States entered World War I, but the Selective Service denied his appeal. Once York was drafted, his Eighty-second Infantry Division superiors persuaded him that America was fighting God’s battle in the war, an argument that transformed the pacifist from the Tennessee mountains into a veritable soldier of the Lord....