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Dickson, David (06 July 1809–18 February 1885), cotton planter and agricultural reformer, was born in Hancock County, Georgia, the son of Thomas Dickson and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown), farmers. Thomas Dickson was a Virginia revolutionary war veteran who migrated to southern Georgia. David spent his boyhood on his parents’ farm, where he received only a common school education. At age twenty-two Dickson began a successful fourteen-year career as a merchant in Sparta, Georgia. Coveting the social status reserved for planters, Dickson in 1845 purchased a farm of 266 acres; stocked it with slaves, livestock, and farm implements; and for a time abandoned his career in merchandising to become a full-time agriculturist. Because his soil was infertile, in 1846 he applied Peruvian guano, a fertilizer that had first become available in the United States the previous year, on some of his crops. The resulting improvement in crop yields was so dramatic that Dickson soon developed a new system of culture based on heavy usage of guano, in conjunction with deep plowing and shallow cultivation. When chemical fertilizers came on the market during the 1850s, Dickson empirically experimented with various mixtures of guano and chemicals until he found a combination that was very effective on his land. Dickson capitalized on his success by manufacturing and marketing his fertilizer throughout the Southeast....

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Dymond, John (03 May 1836–05 March 1922), planter, publisher, and politician, was born in Canada (exact location unrecorded), the son of Richard Dymond, a Methodist minister, and Anne Hawkens. During his early childhood Dymond’s family moved to Zanesville, Ohio, where he was educated in the local public schools and the Zanesville Academy before entering Bartlett’s College, a business school in Cincinnati. Following his graduation from Bartlett’s in 1857 he took a job as a clerk with his father, who had by that time established himself in the mercantile trade. He then toyed with the cotton manufacturing business in partnership with Homer White (trading under the name White & Dymond) before moving to New York City, where, on the eve of the Civil War, he took a job as a traveling salesman with a firm whose name has not survived. He returned to Zanesville on 3 June 1862 to marry Nancy Elizabeth Cassidy; they had six children....

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Kinloch, Cleland (1760–12 September 1823), planter and legislator, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Francis Kinloch, a planter, and Anna Isabella Cleland, both of Scottish descent. His father’s death left Kinloch a ward of Governor Thomas Boone at age seven. The governor sent him abroad for schooling (which was very rare for South Carolina youths). He studied at Eton College in England and in Rotterdam, Holland, where, intending to be a merchant, he pursued commercial studies. The revolutionary war prevented his returning to the United States until after the South Carolina Confiscation Act of 1782, which fined his estate at 12 percent of its value. He planned to return to England, but the inheritance of his father’s Weehaw Plantation in 1784 led to his choosing the life of a rice planter instead. Subsequently Kinloch expanded Weehaw to 5,000 acres and made a number of major improvements. Apparently he was relieved of the fines, but his factor, John White, was trustee of his 300 slaves as late as 1790. On 15 April 1786 Kinloch married Harriet Simmons, the daughter of Ebenezer Simmons, Jr., and Jane Stanyarne. This union produced one child....

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Rodale, J. I. (16 August 1898–07 June 1971), health food publisher, was born Jerome Irving Cohen in New York City, the son of Michael Cohen, a capmaker and grocer, and Bertha Rouda. Both parents were Polish immigrants. Rodale studied at New York and Columbia Universities but did not earn any degrees. At age twenty he became an auditor for the Internal Revenue Service, and at twenty-one he moved to Pittsburgh, where he worked in a private accounting firm for three years. He wanted, however, for some vague reason that he never explained, to be a farmer and publisher. In 1920 he traveled to Kentucky on business and became enchanted with the Bluegrass State. “Being among farmers and in farm country I was more and more imbued with the ambition of some day having my own farm and riding to town with my children on a buck-board drawn by two trusty horses.”...

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Ward, Joshua John (24 November 1800–27 February 1853), planter and legislator, was born in All Saints Parish (Georgetown District), South Carolina, the son of Joshua Ward, a planter, and Elizabeth Cook. He grew up in a rice planter’s world on the Waccamaw River and after graduating from South Carolina College began with one plantation (given to him by his father with 100 slaves), proving so successful at rice planting that he eventually became (with the exception of ...