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Aiken, George David (20 August 1892–19 November 1984), farmer and U.S. senator  

Donald R. McCoy

Aiken, George David (20 August 1892–19 November 1984), farmer and U.S. senator, was born in Dummerston, Vermont, the son of Edward W. Aiken and Myra Cook, farmers. He attended high school in Brattleboro. In 1914 he married Beatrice M. Howard; they had four children. His first wife died in 1966, and a year later Aiken married one of his Senate aides, Lola Pierotti....


Bailey, Liberty Hyde (1858-1954), horticulturist and botanist  

Eleanor F. Wedge

Bailey, Liberty Hyde (15 March 1858–25 December 1954), horticulturist and botanist, was born near South Haven, in Van Buren County, Michigan, the son of Liberty Hyde Bailey, Sr., a farmer and fruit grower, and Sarah Harrison. From childhood he was interested in nature, observing and making collections of plants and animals in the fields near his home. During his school days he came upon copies of Charles Darwin’s ...


Barbour, James (1775-1842), planter and politician  

Charles D. Lowery

Barbour, James (10 June 1775–07 June 1842), planter and politician, was born in Orange County, Virginia, the son of Thomas Barbour, a wealthy planter, and Mary Pendleton Thomas. Because his family suffered financial reverses during the Revolution, Barbour did not receive a college education. After preparatory study in rhetoric and the classics at a local academy, he apprenticed himself to a Richmond lawyer. In 1793, when he was only eighteen years old, he was admitted to the Virginia bar and began practicing law in Orange and neighboring counties. Two years later he married Lucy Johnson, daughter of a prominent local planter. They established a country seat at “Barboursville,” near Montpelier, where they raised five children....


Bromfield, Louis (1896-1956), novelist, experimental farmer, and newspaper columnist  

David D. Anderson

Bromfield, Louis (27 December 1896–18 March 1956), novelist, experimental farmer, and newspaper columnist, was born in Mansfield, Ohio, the son of Charles Bromfield, a banker and local Democratic office holder, and Annette Marie Coulter. His father was from an old New England family, and his mother was the daughter of a pioneer family of Richland County, Ohio; both ancestries would influence his later fiction. Bromfield attended Mansfield public schools, spending summers on his mother’s family’s farm. In 1914–1915 he studied agriculture at Cornell University and then briefly attended Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio. He then studied journalism at Columbia University until his enlistment in the U.S. Army Ambulance Service in June 1917. He served with Section 577, attached to the French army, from December 1917 to February 1919. He participated in seven major battles during World War I and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. He was discharged in June 1919 while still in France....


Burbank, Luther (1849-1926), horticulturist  

Katherine Pandora

Burbank, Luther (07 March 1849–11 April 1926), horticulturist, was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Walton Burbank, a farmer and brickmaker, and Olive Ross. Although Burbank’s family was of comfortable middle-class means, his formal schooling was modest, consisting of public school attendance until the age of fifteen, supplemented by part-time study during the next four winters at the Lancaster Academy. An important influence in his early life was his cousin Levi Sumner Burbank, who had been curator of geology at the Boston Society of Natural History and often took the youngster with him on local natural history excursions....


Carroll of Carrollton, Charles (1737-1832), planter, businessman, investor, and the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence  

Ronald Hoffman

Carroll of Carrollton, Charles (19 September 1737–14 November 1832), planter, businessman, investor, and the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, as well as the last of the signers to die, was born in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of Charles Carroll of Annapolis, a planter, and his common-law wife, Elizabeth Brooke. An only child, Carroll was sent at the age of ten to the Jesuit college of St. Omers, in French Flanders, where Maryland’s Catholic gentry sent their sons because the colony’s laws, which denied “papists” the right to vote, hold office, practice law, and worship publicly, also forbade them to maintain religious schools. Young Carroll studied abroad for sixteen years, ending with a thesis in philosophy at the college of Louis le Grand in Paris in 1757. After reading civil law in Bourges and Paris, he moved to London in September 1759 to pursue the common law at the Inns of Court. However, his antipathy for the discipline, which he regarded as “founded upon and still subsisting by villainy,” became so intense that he ultimately defied his father’s intention that he formally enter the Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court. Finding the paternal insistence on his acquiring the social graces more to his liking, he became adept at dancing, drawing, and fencing and mastered Italian, bookkeeping, and surveying, practical skills the elder Carroll deemed essential for success as a landowner and man of business....


Carver, George Washington (1864-1943), African-American scientist and educator  

Linda O. McMurry

Carver, George Washington (1864–05 January 1943), African-American scientist and educator, was born in Diamond (formerly Diamond Grove), Missouri, the son of Mary Carver, who was the slave of Moses and Susan Carver. His father was said to have been a slave on a neighboring farm who was accidently killed before Carver’s birth. His mother was apparently kidnapped by slave raiders while he was very young, and he and his older brother were raised by the Carvers on their small farm....


Clay, Laura (09 February 1849–29 June 1941), farm manager and women's rights leader  

Paul E. Fuller

Clay, Laura (09 February 1849–29 June 1941), farm manager and women's rights leader, farm manager and women’s rights leader, was born at “White Hall,” her family’s estate, located between Lexington and Richmond, Kentucky, the daughter of Cassius M. Clay, a notable politician, emancipationist, and diplomat, and Mary Jane Warfield. Clay’s formal education was interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War, when the family accompanied her father to Russia, where he had been appointed U.S. minister. Returning to Kentucky in 1862, she attended Sayre School in Lexington, graduating in 1865. Aside from a year at a finishing school in New York City and brief stints of study at the Universities of Michigan and Kentucky, this completed her formal education. In 1873 she leased a 300-acre farm from her father and became its owner upon his death in 1903. Describing herself as a “practical farmer,” she skillfully managed this rich Bluegrass land, deriving from it her own livelihood and most of the finances for her long public career....


Emerson, Gouverneur (1795-1874), physician, statistician, and agriculturalist  

Whitfield J. Bell

Emerson, Gouverneur (04 August 1795–02 July 1874), physician, statistician, and agriculturalist, was born near Dover, Delaware, the son of Jonathan Emerson and Ann Bell, well-to-do farmers. After education at the Quaker Westtown School in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and the classical school of the Reverend Stephen Sykes in Dover, Emerson began the study of medicine in 1811 with Sykes’s physician brother James, also of Dover, and then entered the School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania in 1813. He was graduated in 1816, offering a dissertation on hereditary diseases. For two years Emerson practiced in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania; then in 1818 he went to Canton, China, as surgeon on a merchant vessel. He opened his practice in Philadelphia on 4 August 1820....


Featherstonhaugh, George William (1780-1866), gentleman-farmer, scientist, and diplomat  

Simon Baatz

Featherstonhaugh, George William (09 April 1780–27 September 1866), gentleman-farmer, scientist, and diplomat, was born in London, England, the son of George Featherstonhaugh, a manufacturer, and Dorothy Simpson, a shopkeeper. Educated at Stepney House, a private school near Scarborough, Featherstonhaugh spent his youth traveling in Europe and until 1804 was the commercial agent on the Continent for several British import-export firms. After two years working in the London office of Thomas Dickason & Co., Featherstonhaugh moved in 1806 to New York City, where he met Sarah Duane, daughter of a former mayor of New York and owner of a large estate near Schenectady. After their marriage in November 1808, they moved to a country mansion on the estate—now named “Featherston Park”—at Duanesburg, where Featherstonhaugh farmed 2,000 acres, concentrating on sheep and cattle breeding. He and Duane had two sons and two daughters....


Fernow, Bernhard Eduard (1851-1923), pioneer professional forester in North America  

Terry West

Fernow, Bernhard Eduard (07 January 1851–06 February 1923), pioneer professional forester in North America, was born in the province of Posen, Prussia (now Poland), the son of Eduard Fernow, who opted for law and government service rather than managing the family estate, and Clara Nordman, the second of Eduard’s three wives. In his youth Fernow spent time with his uncle, Frederick Edmund Fernow, who managed the family property which included a large forest holding. At age nineteen, following secondary school and before beginning his classroom studies at the Münden Forest Academy in the province of Hanover, Fernow spent a year in practical woods work with the Prussian forest department. His forestry education was interrupted in 1870 by military service as an army lieutenant during the Franco-Prussian War. Before graduating from forestry school he met Olivia Reynolds, a U.S. citizen who had accompanied her brother during his university studies in Germany. Olivia was hired to teach Fernow English. When they became engaged and left for the United States in 1876, his family, expecting him to follow in his uncle’s footsteps, was upset at his departure. The couple married in 1879 and subsequently had five children....


Hough, Franklin Benjamin (1822-1885), forester  

Thomas J. Curran

Hough, Franklin Benjamin (22 July 1822–11 June 1885), forester, was born Benjamin Franklin Hough in Martinsburg, New York, the son of Horatio Gates Hough, a physician, and Martha Pitcher. When he was eight years old he discovered a cousin with the same name and reversed his given names, styling himself Franklin B. Hough. His father died when Hough was eight years old. He entered Lowville Academy in 1836. Early in his career, local residents became aware of his fascination with rocks and minerals. He continued his education at the Black River Literary and Religious Institute at Watertown, New York, and then in 1840 he entered Union College in Schenectady and graduated three years later....


Laurens, Henry (1724-1792), planter-merchant and revolutionary war statesman  

C. James Taylor

Laurens, Henry (24 February 1724–08 December 1792), planter-merchant and revolutionary war statesman, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of John Laurens, a saddler, and Esther Grasset. The Laurens family had fled La Rochelle, France, as Huguenot refugees in 1682. After stops in London, Ireland, and New York, they settled in Charleston about 1715. Laurens received in his own words “the best education” that the provincial community could offer. In 1744 he sailed for London to serve a three-year clerkship in James Crokatt’s counting house. Laurens married Eleanor Ball in 1750. They had twelve children, but only four survived childhood. ...


Lemke, William Frederick (1878-1950), agrarian leader, congressman, and presidential candidate  

David H. Bennett

Lemke, William Frederick (13 August 1878–30 May 1950), agrarian leader, congressman, and presidential candidate, was born in Albany, Minnesota, and raised in Towner County, North Dakota, the son of Fred Lemke and Julia Anna Klier, pioneer farmers who were successful enough to accumulate some 2,700 acres of land. The young Lemke worked long hours on the family farm, attending a common school for only three months in the summers. The family did, however, reserve enough money to send William to the University of North Dakota, where he was a superior student. Graduating in 1902, he stayed at the state university for the first year of law school but moved to Georgetown University, then to Yale, where he finished work on his law degree and won the praise of the dean....


London, Jack (1876-1916), writer, war correspondent, and agronomist  

Earle Labor

London, Jack (12 January 1876–22 November 1916), writer, war correspondent, and agronomist, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Flora Wellman and, allegedly, William Henry Chaney, a reformer and professor of astrology. Chaney separated from his common-law wife when he learned of her pregnancy, angrily denying his paternity and later insisting (in two 1897 letters written in response to London’s inquiries) that he had been impotent at the time of the child’s conception. Wellman nevertheless named her son “John Griffith Chaney” on his birth certificate....


Lowdermilk, Walter Clay (1888-1974), soil scientist, geologist, soil conservation leader, and author  

Douglas Helms

Lowdermilk, Walter Clay (01 July 1888–06 May 1974), soil scientist, geologist, soil conservation leader, and author, was born Walter Clay Lowdermilk in Liberty, North Carolina, the son of Henry Clay Lowdermilk, a businessman, lumberman, and rancher, and Helen Vashti Lawrence Lowdermilk. The family moved westward to Missouri, to Oklahoma, and finally to Arizona. Walter Lowdermilk graduated from the Park College Academy in Parkville, Missouri, in 1906 and then attended Park College (1908–1910). In 1910 he enrolled at the University of Arizona; after two years there he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, where he earned a B.S. degree in forestry (1914); a B.A. degree in geology (1915); and an M.A. degree, granted in abstentia (1922). While at Oxford he had an opportunity to study forestry in Germany. He also served on ...


Mapes, James Jay (1806-1866), chemist and writer  

Mark R. Finlay

Mapes, James Jay (29 May 1806–10 January 1866), chemist and writer, was born in Maspeth, New York, the son of Jonas Mapes, a merchant and importer, and Elizabeth Tylee. While at a boarding school on Long Island, Mapes lived for a time with the English reformer William Cobbett. As a scientist, however, he was largely self-taught....


Mason, John Young (1799-1859), planter-lawyer, politician, and diplomat  

William G. Shade

Mason, John Young (18 April 1799–03 October 1859), planter-lawyer, politician, and diplomat, was born at “Homestead,” the family plantation in Greensville County, Virginia, the son of Edmunds Mason and Frances Ann Young, both descendants of landed southern Tidewater families. An excellent student, young Mason graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1816, read law with Judge Griffin Stith in Southampton County, and then attended the law school of Judge ...


Mix, Tom (1880-1940), cowboy and motion picture star  

Ginger Clark

Mix, Tom (06 January 1880–12 October 1940), cowboy and motion picture star, was born Thomas Hezikiah Mix in Mix Run, Pennsylvania, the son of Edwin Elias Mix, a teamster in the lumber industry, and Elizabeth Smith. When Tom was eight, his father moved the family to DuBois, Pennsylvania, where the elder Mix took a job as stableman and chauffeur for the wealthy John E. DuBois family. It was in DuBois that Tom, who quit school after the fourth grade, developed an interest in his father’s work, especially the handling of horses. The locals would frequently comment that “Tom learned to ride anything that could walk.” This early experience laid the foundations for the trick riding and roping that was to become an integral part of Mix’s identity as a western film star....


Murie, James Rolfe (1862-1921), teacher, farmer, and ethnographer  

Benjamin R. Kracht

Murie, James Rolfe (1862–18 November 1921), teacher, farmer, and ethnographer, was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, the son of a Skiri Pawnee—the other Pawnee bands were the Pitahawirata, Kitkahahki, and Chawi—only known as Anna Marie. Shortly thereafter he was abandoned by his father, James Murie, a Scot captain in Major Frank North’s U.S. Army Pawnee scout battalion....