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Beach, Moses Yale (07 January 1800–19 July 1868), journalist and inventor, was born in Wallingford, Connecticut, the son of Moses Sperry Beach and Lucretia (Stanley) Yale, farmers. (Some sources cite 15 January as his birth date.) With some common school education, young Moses demonstrated mechanical ingenuity and was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker at age fourteen. By working overtime he was able to buy his freedom in four years, and he set up a cabinet shop of his own in Northampton, Massachusetts. He married Nancy Day of Springfield in either 1819 or 1821 (sources conflict); the couple would have eight children. (It is possible that he married a second time, but the evidence is not firm.)...

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Davis, Watson (29 April 1896–27 June 1967), science writer and editor, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Charles Allan Davis, a high-school principal, and Maud Watson, a teacher. Davis attended George Washington University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1918 and a civil engineering degree in 1920. In 1919 he married Helen Augusta Miles, a fellow student and a chemist; they had two children....

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Howey, Walter Crawford (16 January 1882–21 March 1954), journalist and inventor, was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, the son of Frank Harris Howey, a helper in a drug, paint, and wallpaper store and later a businessman, and Rosa Crawford. He attended public schools and, ambitious to become an artist, took classes at the Chicago Art Institute in 1899 and 1900. Returning to Fort Dodge, he was hired as editor of the ...

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Amos Kendall. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109899).

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Kendall, Amos (16 August 1789–12 November 1869), journalist, postmaster general, and business agent, was born in Dunstable, Massachusetts, the son of Zebedee Kendall and Molly Dakin, farmers. Kendall spent his early years working on the family farm under the supervision of his father, a deacon in the Congregational church. After attending academies in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, and Groton, Massachusetts, he enrolled in 1807 at Dartmouth College. Frail and unaccustomed to independence, Kendall had difficulty adjusting to college life, especially because many of his classmates had moral standards much less strict than his own and because he had to drop out each winter to earn money by teaching school. But he adapted, made friends, and was so intelligent and hardworking that when he graduated in 1811 he ranked first in his class. Uncertain about his future, he spent the next few years in Groton studying law under Republican congressman William M. Richardson, who later became chief justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court....

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Sholes, Christopher Latham (14 February 1819–17 February 1890), printer, journalist, and inventor, was born on a farm near Mooresburg, Pennsylvania, the son of Orrin Sholes, a cabinetmaker; his mother’s name is not known. His parents moved soon after to Danville, Pennsylvania, where he attended school until age fourteen. He worked as an apprentice printer for the editor of the ...

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Swank, James Moore (12 July 1832–21 June 1914), newspaper editor, statistician, and lobbyist, was born in Loyalhanna Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, the son of George W. Swank, a local businessman, and Nancy Moore. Swank spent 1849–1850 at Jefferson College, a preparatory school in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, after which he taught school, clerked in his father’s store, read law, and edited a Whig newspaper, the ...