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Mitchel, Ormsby Macknight (28 July 1809–30 October 1862), astronomer and advocate of science, was born in Morganfield, Kentucky, the son of John Mitchel and Elizabeth McAllister, farmers. His father died less than two years after Ormsby’s birth, necessitating the sale of the family farm and forcing the widow and boy to shuttle between the homes of his grown siblings in Ohio. Despite that hardship, Ormsby Mitchel gained a reputation as a prodigy, which he parlayed into an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1825. At the time he attended, West Point offered the finest training in science and engineering in the United States. Following graduation in 1829, Mitchel taught mathematics at the academy for two years. He married Louisa Clark Trask in 1831; she had a son by a previous marriage, and they had at least six children together....