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Adams, Henry Cullen (28 November 1850–09 July 1906), legislator and public servant, was born in Verona, Oneida County, New York, the son of Benjamin Franklin Adams, a professor of classical languages at Hamilton College, and Caroline Shepard. His parents moved to southern Wisconsin before the Civil War, and young Henry grew up on a farm, acquiring an attachment to agriculture that would permeate the remainder of his life. He was educated in country schools, at Albion College, and then spent three years during the 1870s at the University of Wisconsin, but fragile health forced him to quit before earning a degree. Adams returned to his father’s farm near Madison and in 1878 married Anne Burkley Norton, with whom he had four children....

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Cheatham, Henry Plummer (27 December 1857–29 November 1935), congressman and public official, was born near Henderson, Granville (now Vance) County, North Carolina, the son of a house slave about whom little is known. He attended local public schools and worked on farms during the 1860s and 1870s before graduating with honors from Shaw University in 1882. He became principal of the Plymouth Normal School for Negroes, a state-supported institution, and held this position from 1882 until 1884. He returned to Henderson and, after the retirement of the white Republican incumbent, won election as Vance County registrar of deeds, serving in this capacity from 1885 to 1888. During this time he also studied law, though he never established a practice....

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Thomas, David (11 June 1762–27 November 1831), soldier, congressman, and New York politician, was born in Pelham, Massachusetts, the son of David Thomas and Elizabeth Harper. David’s early schooling consisted of the traditional preparatory studies, but he did not go to college. In 1777 he joined an expedition of Massachusetts troops engaged in the relief of Rhode Island. Following this action, he worked as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1781 Thomas joined the Fifth Massachusetts Regiment as a corporal. He later served as a sergeant in the Third Massachusetts Regiment, in which he continued for the remainder of the revolutionary war....