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Chouteau, René Auguste (07 September 1749–24 February 1829), pioneer in the western fur trade and explorer, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was baptized on 9 September, 1749, the son of René Auguste Chouteau and Marie Thérèse Bourgeois. His father was a French immigrant who operated a tavern in New Orleans. The marriage of his parents broke up shortly after his birth, and his father returned to France. His teenage mother proved herself resourceful and eventually went to live with a prominent fur trader, ...

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De Witt, Simeon (25 December 1756–03 December 1834), cartographer, surveyor, and land developer, was born in Wawarsing, Ulster County, New York, the son of Andries De Witt, a physician, and Jannetje Vernooy. His early education was typical of what a scattered agricultural community could provide in that period. Later he received classical instruction from the local minister, and then, on the eve of the American Revolution, he enrolled at Queen’s College (later Rutgers University) in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He was granted a B.A. degree in 1776 and an M.A. degree in 1788....

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Donelson, John (c. 1718–1725–11 April 1786), land speculator and explorer, was born in Somerset County, Maryland, the son of John Donelson, a merchant and seaman, and Catherine Davis. Following his father’s death in 1736, Donelson entered the shipbuilding business. He then migrated to Virginia in 1743, settling near the town of Pastoria in what was Accomack County. About that time he married Rachael Stokely, daughter of prominent landowner and member of the House of Burgesses Alexander Stokely. They had eleven children; the tenth, Rachel ( ...

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Greenleaf, Moses (17 October 1777–20 March 1834), mapmaker, writer, and promoter of the state of Maine, was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the son of Moses Greenleaf, a ship carpenter and a lieutenant in the American Revolution, and Lydia Parsons. In 1790 Greenleaf moved with his family to New Gloucester in the district of Maine, where his parents became farmers. From 1799 to 1806 he operated a general store, first in New Gloucester for three years, then in Poland, Kenduskeag, and Bangor. In 1805 he married Persis Poor; they had four children. One year after his marriage Greenleaf purchased from William Dodd of Boston a quarter interest in a township to be carved from Maine “wild lands” he had purchased from Massachusetts. Greenleaf agreed to manage the joint property (later incorporated as Williamsburg) and to settle forty families there by 1812. Greenleaf spent part of the winter of 1807 in Boston, where he promoted his new property and the separation of Maine from Massachusetts while the General Court was in session there. Although an ardent Federalist, he opposed the majority of his party on the issue of separation....