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Bennett, John Cook (03 August 1804–05 August 1867), physician, religious leader, and entrepreneur, was born in Fair Haven, Bristol County, Massachusetts, the son of John Bennett, a shipowner, and Abigail Cook. At his father’s death in 1817, he moved with his mother to Ohio to stay with relatives. In 1825, after a three-year apprenticeship with a physician and an oral examination by an Ohio medical society, Bennett received his M.D. and a license to practice. That year he married Mary Barker; they had three children. There is no evidence supporting his claim to have attended Ohio University or McGill College in Montreal; he did, however, become a Freemason in 1826....

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Etting, Solomon (28 July 1764–06 August 1847), Jewish merchant and Baltimore civic leader, was born in York, Pennsylvania; he was the second oldest of the eight children of Elijah Etting, a Frankfurt merchant who came to York in 1758, and Shinah Solomon of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As a boy, Solomon acquired business skills, working in the family store. After Elijah Etting, who was an Indian trader, died in July of 1778, Solomon did not go to Baltimore with his mother and his sisters. Along with his brother Reuben, he stayed in York, evidently to protect and preserve the family's business interests. Solomon in 1782 also became an authorized slaughterer of kosher meats ( ...

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Hall, Prince (1735–04 December 1807), Masonic organizer and abolitionist, was born in Bridgetown, Barbados, the son of a “white English leather worker” and a “free woman of African and French descent”; his birth date is variously given as 12 Sept. 1748 (Horton). He was the slave of William Hall, a leather dresser. At age seventeen, Hall found passage to Boston, Massachusetts, by working on a ship and became employed there as a leather worker. In 1762 he joined the Congregational Church on School Street. He received his manumission in 1770. Official records indicate that Hall was married three times. In 1763 he married Sarah Ritchie, a slave. In 1770, after her death, he married Flora Gibbs of Gloucester, Massachusetts; they had one son, Prince Africanus. In 1798 Hall married Sylvia Ward. The reason for the dissolution of the second marriage is unclear....

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Hays, Moses Michael (09 March 1739–09 May 1805), Jewish merchant and Masonic leader, was born in New York City, the oldest of the eight children of Judah Hays, a Dutch merchant who had come to that city in 1733, and Rebecca Michaels Hays, the daughter of New York merchant Moses Michaels. Judah Hays, who became a freeman in 1735 and was naturalized in 1740, took his son Moses Michael into his prospering export and import business during the late 1750s. The young Moses acquired business skills from his father, for Judah purchased and sold food supplies and guns to the British during the French and Indian War and accrued profits from transporting such goods on his ship, the ...

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Morris, Robert (31 August 1818–31 July 1888), Masonic lecturer and poet, according to most biographers, including his son, was born near Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Robert Morris and Charlotte (maiden name unknown), teachers. However, the reliable twentieth-century Masonic historian Henry Wilson Coil in his ...

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Albert Pike. Photoprint, c. 1886. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-100590).

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Pike, Albert (29 December 1809–02 April 1891), lawyer, soldier, and Masonic scholar, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin Pike, a cobbler, and Sarah Andrews. The boy was torn between his father, whose irreverence and drinking scandalized neighbors, and his mother, who read the Bible to her only son daily and planned on his entering the ministry. In 1813, seeking to supplement his income by farming, Benjamin Pike moved the family to Newburyport, Massachusetts. In 1825 Albert was sent to live with his uncle, a teacher at Framingham Academy, who soon learned that Pike had a prodigious memory that enabled him to digest large volumes and recall their contents at will; the boy learned Hebrew, Latin, and Greek almost effortlessly. Eight months after his arrival in Framingham, Pike passed the entrance examination for Harvard College. He could not afford the tuition, however, so, instead of enrolling at Harvard, he taught common school at Gloucester. The following year Harvard agreed to admit him as a junior, but school officials insisted that he pay the first two years’ tuition. Outraged, Pike abandoned his dreams of a formal education....

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Reason, Patrick Henry (1816–12 August 1898), printmaker, abolitionist, and fraternal order leader, was born in New York City, the son of Michel Reason (from St. Anne, Guadeloupe) and Elizabeth Melville (from Saint-Dominique). Reason was baptized as Patrick Rison in the Church of St. Peter on 17 April 1816. While it is not known why the spelling of his name changed, it may have been an homage to political leader ...

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Webb, Thomas Smith (30 October 1771–06 July 1819), author of Masonic music and rituals and a founder of the Handel and Haydn Society, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Webb and Margaret Smith. His parents had emigrated from England sometime in 1771. He studied at local grammar schools and then at the Boston Latin School. Known for his “sweetness of disposition,” he was a bright and precocious student. He wrote poetry, played the fife and flute, and became proficient in French. When he was sixteen he was apprenticed to a printer in Boston. A few years later he moved to Keene, New Hampshire, and set up his own printing shop. In Keene he became acquainted with Freemasonry and received the first three degrees of the Ancient Craft from the Rising Sun Lodge....