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Graffenried, Christoph, Baron von (15 November 1661– November 1743), promoter of Swiss and German settlement in early North Carolina and founder of New Bern, was born in the village of Worb near Bern, Switzerland, the son of Anton von Graffenried, lord of Worb, and Catherine Jenner. After studying at the Universities of Heidelberg and Leyden, he visited England about 1680, where he met the duke of Albemarle, Sir John Colleton, and other Lords Proprietors of Carolina. In 1683 he returned home and in 1684 married Regina Tscharner, with whom he had thirteen children....

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Harris, John (1726–30 July 1791), ferryman, Indian trader, and founder of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was born in Paxton, Pennsylvania, the son of John Harris, a trader and brewer, and Esther Say. Harris, often designated “the founder” to distinguish him from his father, apparently had little formal education, although he was literate. Harris’s father arrived in Philadelphia from England in the early eighteenth century with very little in the way of financial resources. He worked for a time as a laborer, but through a friendship with Philadelphia’s first mayor, ...

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Lorimier, Louis ( March 1748–26 June 1812), trader, Indian agent, and founder of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, was born probably in Lachine, Canada, the son of Claude-Nicolas de la Rivière de Lorimier, a French colonial officer and commander of La Présentation (Ogdensburg, N.Y.), and Marie-Louise Lepailleur de Laferté. Louis came west with his father in 1769 and at the outbreak of the American Revolution was trading with the Miami Indians on the Wabash. Because of his influence with and knowledge of the Indians, he was employed by the British to rally the tribes to the king’s cause and to direct them against American settlements in Kentucky and elsewhere. At Christmas 1776 he moved to the Shawnee country in present-day Ohio and soon established a trading post on Lorimier’s Creek at the headwaters of the Great Miami River. He acquired a facility with the Shawnee language and established an unusual rapport with the tribesmen. In February 1778 Lorimier was one of two Frenchmen who accompanied ...

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Menéndez de Avilés, Pedro (15 February 1519–17 September 1574), captain general of the armada of the Indies and adelantado of Florida, was born in northern Spain, in the Asturian seaport of Avilés, the son of Juan Alfonso Sánchez and María Alonso de Arango. A descendant of minor hidalgos, he was connected by blood and marriage to several noble families, but as one of the youngest of twenty children, he could count on little else. Raised by relatives after his father died and his mother remarried, Pedro married a distant cousin, María de Solís, with whom he would have four children; invested his patrimony in a small, rapid sailing vessel; and became an unlicensed privateer....

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Scholte, H. P. (25 September 1805–25 August 1868), Reformed cleric, journalist, and founder of the Pella, Iowa, Dutch colony, was born Hendrik Pieter Scholte in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the son of Jan Hendrik Scholte, a sugar box factory owner, and Johanna Dorothea Roelofsz. The Scholte family for generations operated sugar refineries in Amsterdam, and young Hendrik, called “H. P.,” was destined to carry on the business tradition. Religiously, the family members were “outsiders” who belonged to a pietistic German Lutheran congregation rather than the national Dutch Reformed church, headed by the monarchy. The death of his father, grandfather, only brother, and mother, all within six years (1821–1827), freed Scholte to use his inheritance to enroll as a theology student at Leiden University. In 1832 he married Sara Maria Brandt. They would have five children before her death in 1844....

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Stevens, John Harrington (13 June 1820–28 May 1900), Minnesota pioneer and founder of Minneapolis, was born to Gardner Stevens and Deborah Harrington when they were living temporarily in Brompton Falls, Lower Canada, near the Vermont border. He was reared mainly in Vermont, where he attended common schools before leaving home at age fifteen to join an older brother in Wisconsin’s lead mining region. In 1840, when serving in the Wisconsin territorial militia during the removal of the Winnebago west of the Mississippi River, he became acquainted with territorial governor ...

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Williams, Samuel May (04 October 1795–13 September 1858), Texas colonizer, city founder, and banker, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Howell Williams, a sea captain, and Dorothy Wheat. After local schooling, young Sam served around 1810 as an apprentice in his uncle Nathaniel Felton Williams’s commission house in Baltimore, Maryland, and he soon journeyed as supercargo to Buenos Aires. Naval activities associated with the War of 1812 prevented his return to the United States until after 1815, allowing Williams time to master the Spanish language and culture....