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Bacheller, Irving (26 September 1859–24 February 1950), novelist and publishing executive, was born Addison Irving Bacheller in Pierrepont, St. Lawrence County, New York, the son of Sanford Paul Bacheller and Achsah Ann Buckland, farmers. Irving attended local schools in Pierrepont, then switched to an academy in Canton, New York, after his family moved there. His secondary education at Clinton Academy was sporadic, however, as he spent long periods during his teenage years working at various jobs—telegraph operator, laborer, post office clerk, bookkeeper, salesman, teacher—to help support the family....

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Ballou, Maturin Murray (14 April 1820–27 March 1895), writer, editor, and publisher, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Rev. Hosea Ballou and Ruth Washburn. His father was a distinguished Universalist minister and the author of more than 100 books. Ballou attended Boston’s English High School and, as a teenager, contributed travel sketches and other pieces to his cousin ...

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Cahan, Abraham (07 July 1860–31 August 1951), editor and author, was born in Podberezy, Lithuania, the son of Shakhne Cahan and Sheyne Sarah Goldarbeter, both teachers. Cahan was five when his family moved to nearby Vilna, where he graduated from the Vilna Teachers’ Institute for Jewish students in June 1881. Assigned to a public school in Velizh, he fled less than a year later under threat of political persecution for suspected radical activities, emigrating to the United States in June 1882....

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Davis, Samuel Post (04 April 1850–17 March 1918), journalist, author, and historian, was born in Branford, Connecticut, the son of the Reverend George R. Davis, an Episcopalian priest, and Sylvia Nichols. As Davis’s father accepted different pulpits, the family moved to Ansonia, Connecticut; Newark, New Jersey; and Racine, Wisconsin. In Racine, Samuel attended the Racine College private school but apparently did not complete the secondary curriculum. He accompanied his parents when they subsequently moved to Brownsville, Nebraska, then to Nevada City, California, and finally to Carson City, Nevada....

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Gonzales, Ambrose Elliott (29 May 1857–11 July 1926), newspaper publisher and author, was born on a plantation in St. Paul’s Parish (Colleton County), South Carolina, the son of Ambrosio José Gonzales, a Cuban educator in exile, and Harriet Rutledge Elliott, a member of a family long prominent in the region. During his early boyhood, Ambrose’s nurses and playmates were slaves from the African West Coast. These associations would lead to an abiding interest in his later life in the Gullah blacks who had settled in the Low Country....

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Josiah Gilbert Holland. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-51915).

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Holland, Josiah Gilbert (24 July 1819–12 October 1881), editor and writer, was born in Belchertown, Massachusetts, the son of Harrison Holland, a hardworking but unsuccessful mechanic and inventor, and Anna Gilbert Holland. The father's jobs took the family to Heath, South Hadley, Granby, and Northampton, and elsewhere in central and western Massachusetts. During his early years, Holland worked in small factories and attended district schools irregularly and Northampton High School briefly, leaving because of illness. While a teenager, he taught school, taught penmanship, and made daguerreotypes. After studying the rudiments of medicine with two physicians in Northampton beginning in 1840, Holland attended the Berkshire Medical College in Pittsfield, graduated in 1844, but was unable in the following three years to develop a practice in Springfield. He married Elizabeth Luna Chapin in 1845; the couple had three children. He tried his hand sporadically at writing and founded a short-lived weekly magazine in 1847. He was a school superintendent briefly in Richmond, Virginia (1848), and then in Vicksburg, Mississippi (1848–1850)....

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Howe, Edgar Watson (03 May 1853–03 October 1937), author and journalist, was born in Treaty, Indiana, the son of Henry Howe, at the time a farmer, and Elizabeth Irwin, who was Henry Howe’s second wife. The Howe family moved west and settled in Bethany, Missouri. Edgar had only fragmentary schooling and worked as a printer’s devil for his father, with whom he went out on “circuit rider” expeditions into northern Missouri and Iowa. Edgar Howe became a tramp printer in the Midwest and the Rocky Mountains, including time on the ...

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Jones, John Beauchamp (06 March 1810–04 February 1866), author and journalist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. The names and circumstances of his parents are unknown. Jones’s early days in Baltimore and his childhood on the frontier in Kentucky and Missouri are blank pages from an early life that is obscure at best. Evidently he received a basic education in local schools, for journalism and literature became his livelihood. In 1841 he edited the Baltimore ...

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McElroy, John (25 August 1846–12 October 1929), journalist and author, was born in Greenup County, Kentucky, the son of Robert McElroy, an ironmaster, and Mary Henderson. The family background was Scotch-Irish. He left home at the age of nine, after his father’s death and his mother’s remarriage, dropping his middle name, Henderson, which was his mother’s maiden name. He worked his way to St. Louis, where he found a job as a printer’s devil. Befriended by journeymen printers, he learned how to set the type for popular songs and sold the songs on the streets of St. Louis. Through a program of reading and independent study he remedied the meagerness of his formal education. He was aided in this project by a photographic memory. He could recite most of Shakespeare’s plays, read French and German, and translate Greek and Hebrew. When the country was moving toward war, he traveled to Chicago. In 1862 he enlisted in ...

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Mitchell, Edward Page (24 March 1852–22 January 1927), editor and writer, was born in Bath, Maine, the son of Edward H. Mitchell, a businessman, and Frances Page. Receiving a strong foundation in Congregationalist religious principles from his family, Mitchell was brought up under a strict moral and behavioral code. His family also introduced him to a variety of good literature, leading to his lifelong appreciation for belles lettres. In 1860 the family moved to New York City and then lived in 1866–1867 in North Carolina, where Mitchell’s father tried his hand at farming. In 1871 Mitchell enrolled at Bowdoin College; initially interested in medicine, his literary talent led him to pursue a degree in humanities....

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Munsey, Frank Andrew (21 August 1854–22 December 1925), author and publisher, was born near Mercer, Maine, the son of Andrew Chauncey Munsey, a carpenter and farmer, and Mary Jane Merritt Hopkins. Aside from a few months enrolled at Poughkeepsie Business College in 1881, Munsey gained his business education through experience. As a boy, working at a grocery in Lisbon Falls, Maine, he taught himself telegraphy, eventually leaving to become a telegraph operator at several hotels in New England. His proficiency led to his appointment as manager of the Western Union office in the state capital, Augusta....

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O’Reilly, John Boyle (28 June 1844–10 August 1890), writer, was born in Castle Dowth, near Drogheda, County Meath, Ireland, the son of William David O’Reilly, a schoolmaster, and Eliza Boyle. Educated by his father, O’Reilly early gained newspaper experience by working, beginning at age eleven, first as an apprentice for the Drogheda ...

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Testut, Charles (1819?–01 July 1892), Romantic literary artist, journalist, and physician, was born Charles-Hippolyte-Joseph Testut in Auxerre, France, and though he emigrated to the United States in the late 1830s when he was in his early twenties, he remained a French citizen until his death in New Orleans, Louisiana. The details of Testut’s personal life are sketchy. In his writings he alluded to a brother, Eugène, and a sister, Marie, and he cherished the memory of his father, whom he referred to as a high-ranking official in the Rosicrucian movement. He also mentioned his wife and children and spoke fondly of his dozen or so grandchildren. It appears, however, that when he settled permanently in New Orleans in 1871 his family resided elsewhere....

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Ware, William (03 August 1797–19 February 1852), writer, editor, and Unitarian minister, was born in Hingham, Massachusetts, the son of Henry Ware, Sr., a Unitarian minister and Harvard professor, and Mary Clark. As a youth in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ware was prepared for college by his cousin Ashur Ware and Rev. John Allyn. He graduated from Harvard in 1816 and then stayed an additional three years to study theology with his father, who had been appointed Hollis Professor of Divinity in 1805....

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Warman, Cy (22 June 1855–07 April 1914), journalist and author, was born near Greenup, Illinois, the son of John Warman, a farmer, and Nancy Askew. He was educated in the common schools and became a farmer. When “old enough to vote” he sold his crop and horses, took a partner, and started a wheat brokerage at Pocahontas, Illinois. The business lasted only two weeks because his first large shipment to St. Louis arrived just as the wheat market collapsed. In 1879 he married Ida Blanche Hays; they had no children, and she died in 1887....

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Warner, Charles Dudley (12 September 1829–20 October 1900), author and editor, was born in Plainfield, Massachusetts, the son of Justus Warner and Sylvia Hitchcock, farmers. In 1837, three years after her husband died, Sylvia Warner took her two sons to a guardian in Charlemont, Massachusetts, and, in 1841, on to her brother in Cazenovia, New York. Warner attended classes at the Oneida Conference Seminary in Cazenovia, enrolled at Hamilton College, and graduated in 1851 with a B.A. While still a student he published articles in the ...

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White, William Allen (10 February 1868–29 January 1944), journalist and author, was born in Emporia, Kansas, the son of Allen White, a physician and merchant, and Mary Ann Hatten, a schoolteacher. A year later the family moved sixty miles southwest to the frontier village Eldorado (now El Dorado), where Allen White quickly became the leading citizen and most energetic booster; he was the town’s mayor when he died in 1882. William Allen would emulate his father’s absorption in community and civic life. He attended the College of Emporia in 1884, but, seeking a skill to help pay his way, he found a job as printer’s devil for a local newspaper. Quickly graduating from compositor to cub reporter, White worked for newspapers throughout the rest of his university career, which included a second year in Emporia and four years at the University of Kansas. He left without a degree in 1890 to manage the ...