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Cocke, William (1748–22 August 1828), legislator, soldier, and Indian agent, was born in Amelia County, Virginia, the son of Abraham Cocke, a member of the tobacco gentry. As a young man, Cocke studied law and soon became prominent in public affairs. After moving in the early 1770s with his wife, Sarah Maclin (whom he married in 1773 or earlier), and the first of their nine children to a settlement in the Holston Valley near the present Virginia-Tennessee boundary, he served in the Virginia House of Delegates and was an officer in the Virginia militia. Sometime later, he married Keziah (or Kissiah) Sims; they had no children. While in the Holston Valley, he participated in the formation of Sullivan and Washington counties and held several minor positions. In 1776 he raised a company of troops, was commissioned captain, and established “Cocke’s Fort” in the nearby wilderness. He took part in several military encounters with the British and Indians and in 1780 led his troops—along with ...

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David Crockett. Engraving after a portrait by John Gadsby Chapman. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-93521).

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Crockett, Davy (17 August 1786–06 March 1836), frontiersman, Tennessee and U.S. congressman, and folk hero, was born David Crockett in Greene County, East Tennessee, the son of John Crockett, a magistrate, unsuccessful land speculator, and tavern owner, and Rebecca Hawkins. John Crockett hired his son out to Jacob Siler in 1798 to help on a cattle drive to Rockbridge County, Virginia, and Siler tried forcibly to detain young Crockett after the completion of the job. The boy ran away at night, however, and arrived home in late 1798 or early 1799. Preferring to play hooky rather than attend school, he ran away from home to escape his father’s wrath. His “strategic withdrawal,” as he called it, lasted about thirty months while he worked at odd jobs and as a laborer and a wagon driver. When he returned home in 1802, he had grown so much that his family at first did not recognize him. He soon found that all was forgiven and reciprocated their generosity by working for a year to settle the debts that his father had incurred....

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Hawkins, Benjamin (15 August 1754–06 June 1816), U.S. senator and Indian agent, was born in Bute, later Warren County, North Carolina, the son of Philomen Hawkins, a planter and land speculator, and Delia Martin. Family wealth enabled the young Hawkins to attend the College of New Jersey (later Princeton), class of 1777, but the approaching British army cut short his senior year. Fluent in French, he briefly served on General ...

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Judd, Gerrit Parmele (23 April 1803–12 July 1873), physician, medical missionary, and Hawaiian government official and adviser, was born in Paris, New York, the son of Elnathan Judd, Jr., a physician, and Betsey Hastings. Being the eldest son of a physician, Judd took an early interest in the medical profession and attended medical school in Fairfield, Herkimer County, where he received his M.D. in 1825. In 1826 Judd dedicated his life to the missionary cause as directed by the Boston-based Congregational American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). At this time the board was recruiting missionaries for the third company to join the Sandwich Islands Mission in Hawaii in the fall of 1827....

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McKee, John (1767–11 August 1832), American Indian agent and congressman, was born on Buffalo Creek in Rockbridge County, Virginia, the son of John (or James) McKee and Esther “Nannie” Houston, farmers. He attended Liberty Hall Academy (now Washington and Lee University). In 1792 Governor ...

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Rice, Henry Mower (29 November 1816–15 January 1894), Indian trader and commissioner, Minnesota territorial delegate, and U.S. senator, was born in Waitsfield, Vermont, the son of Edmund Rice and Ellen Durkee. After his father died in 1828, Rice lived with the family of Justus Burdick. He completed an academy education and studied law in Rutland, Vermont, before moving to Michigan with the Burdick family in 1835. He worked as a chainman in the surveying of the Sault Ste. Marie Canal and for Kalamazoo merchants until 1839. That year he traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, where he was hired by Kenneth MacKenzie, a prominent commission and forwarding merchant and fur trader, who sent him to Fort Snelling, in present-day Minnesota, to assist the post sutler. The next year he was appointed sutler at the newly created Fort Atkinson near the Winnebago reservation in northeastern Iowa. In 1842 he moved to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, to join Hercules L. Dousman, a longtime partner in the Western Outfit of the American Fur Company, in trade with the Winnebago and Ojibwa of the upper Mississippi region. Five years later he was sent to Mendota near Fort Snelling as an agent of Pierre Chouteau, Jr. and Company (see ...

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Thompson, Wiley (23 September 1781–28 December 1835), congressman, military officer, and Indian agent, was born in Amelia County, Virginia, the son of Isham Thompson, a soldier in the revolutionary war, and Elizabeth Williams. As a child, Thompson moved with his family to Elberton, in Wilkes County, later Elbert County, Georgia, where he attended the county school. In 1808 Thompson was appointed by the Georgia legislature to be commissioner of the Elbert County Academy....

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Tipton, John (14 August 1786–05 April 1839), soldier, American Indian agent, and senator, was born in Sevier County, Tennessee, the son of Joshua Tipton and Janet Shields, farmers. Tipton’s father was killed by American Indians in 1793. In 1807 Tipton’s mother, with four children, migrated to Harrison County, Indiana Territory. Tipton bought land and operated a ferry at the mouth of the Salt River. Although without formal education, he became an effective writer and a forceful speaker. In 1807 he married his cousin Martha Shields. They had three children before divorcing in 1817. In 1811 Tipton joined a militia company and marched to Tippecanoe, where his battlefield heroism won him a captain’s commission. He served in the War of 1812, continuing in the Indiana militia, and his leadership abilities led to his rise to major general in 1822....