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Abraham (fl. 1826–1845), "Prophet"  

Kenny A. Franks

Abraham (fl. 1826–1845), "Prophet", also known as “Prophet,” was a runaway slave who became a prominent leader among the Seminoles. Nothing is known about his parents or childhood. Fleeing his master, Abraham escaped south into Florida where he was adopted into the Seminole tribe. He enjoyed considerable status among the Seminoles, accompanying a tribal delegation to Washington, D.C., in 1826 and becoming an influential counselor to Micanopy, a leading Seminole headman. The Seminole, or Florida Indians, once were a part of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation that had been driven out of Georgia by the early English colonists, and the Oconee and Yamasee tribes that had been driven out of the Carolinas following the Yamasee uprising of 1715. They had first settled among the Lower Creeks in the Florida Panhandle and created a haven for runaway slaves. In fact, ...


Adair, James (1709-1783), trader and author  

Francis Jennings

Adair, James (1709–1783), trader and author, was born in County Antrim, Ireland. Although his parentage is not certain, he probably was a younger son of Sir Robert Adair, a scion of the “Old English” Fitzgerald family. Having noble connections, but not overburdened with wealth, Adair emigrated to South Carolina in 1735 and immediately began trading with Indians....


Cover Adams, Grizzly (1812-1860)
Grizzly Adams. Illustration from T. H. Hittell, The Adventures of James Capen Adams, Mountaineer and Grizzly Bear Hunter of California, 1860. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92873).


Adams, Grizzly (1812-1860), mountain man and wild animal tamer  

Richard H. Dillon

Adams, Grizzly (22 October 1812–25 October 1860), mountain man and wild animal tamer, was born John Adams in Medway, Massachusetts, the son of Eleazar Adams and Sybil Capen. Adams apparently served an apprenticeship as a cobbler, but when he was twenty-one he began hunting and trapping animals, for showmen, in the woods of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. He delighted in his work, which was cut short when he tried to control an unruly Bengal tiger. In doing this favor for an exhibitor, Adams was badly mangled. When he recovered his health, he went back to making boots and shoes....


Alden, John (1599?–12 September 1687), farmer and magistrate  

Mark A. Peterson

Alden, John (1599?–12 September 1687), farmer and magistrate, was one of the original settlers of Plymouth Colony, arriving in New England on the Mayflower in 1620. No definite information exists about his birth, parentage, childhood, or education. In 1620 he lived at Southampton, England, where the migrating Pilgrims stopped for provisions on their way from the Netherlands to the New World. There he was hired as the ship’s cooper in charge of its supply of beer and drinking water. Upon landfall, Alden joined in signing the now famous Mayflower Compact. After the colonists’ arrival in Plymouth, Governor ...


Alden, Priscilla Mullins (1602-1684), one of the first settlers of Plymouth Colony  

Allida Shuman McKinley

Alden, Priscilla Mullins (1602–1684), one of the first settlers of Plymouth Colony, was born the daughter of William Mullins, a shoemaker, and Mary (maiden name unknown). She was probably born in Dorking, Surrey, England, though there is no record of her birth. Her father’s life is not well documented, but he may be the William Mollines who was brought before the Privy Council in April 1616. If so, his Puritan faith might have been the reason that he and his family joined the Separatists on their ...


Cover Allen, Ethan (1738-1789)
Ethan Allen at Ticonderoga. Reproduction of a painting by E. Percy Moran (1862–1935). Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96539).


Allen, Ethan (1738-1789), frontier revolutionary leader and author of the first deistic work by an American  

Michael Bellesiles

Allen, Ethan (10 January 1738–12 February 1789), frontier revolutionary leader and author of the first deistic work by an American, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, the son of Joseph Allen and Mary Baker, farmers. Allen served briefly in the French and Indian War and in 1762 began operating a productive iron forge in Salisbury, Connecticut. That same year he married Mary Brownson, with whom he would have five children. But Allen’s deism and aggressive personal conduct ruined his early prospects: he was warned out of Salisbury in 1765 and Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1767....


Allen, Ira (1751-1814), frontier entrepreneur and Vermont political leader  

J. Kevin Graffagnino

Allen, Ira (01 May 1751–15 January 1814), frontier entrepreneur and Vermont political leader, was born in Cornwall, Connecticut, the son of Joseph Allen and Mary Baker, farmers. Little is known of his youth, but in 1770 he followed his five elder brothers north to the New Hampshire Grants region and joined the Yankee versus Yorker struggle, which stemmed from the 1764 Crown decree that New York rather than New Hampshire owned the area that would become Vermont. While brother ...


Allerton, Isaac (1586-1659), merchant in the early years of the Plymouth colony  

Francis J. Bremer

Allerton, Isaac (1586– February 1659), merchant in the early years of the Plymouth colony, . Little is known of Allerton’s early life, and nothing is known regarding his education and religious orientation. He was a tailor in London at the time that he moved to Leiden, Holland, in 1608. When the Separatist congregation of John Robinson arrived in 1609 Allerton joined the church. In 1611 he married a fellow member, Mary Norris. In 1614 he became a citizen of the Dutch city....


Alligator (fl. 1832–1846), Seminole war leader  

John K. Mahon

Alligator (fl. 1832–1846), Seminole war leader , famous for resisting attempts of the United States to remove the Indians from Florida, had the Indian name Halpatter Tustenuggee. Nothing is known of his parents or youth except that he migrated with his parents from a Eufala town on the Tallapoosa River. Although not a hereditary chief, Alligator was connected to two important Seminole bands. He was a war leader and adviser to Micanopy, hereditary chief of the Alachua. Micanopy was a brother-in-law to Philip, hereditary leader of the Mikasukis, and Alligator generally collaborated with both Alachua and Mikasuki activities....


American Horse (1840?–16 December 1908), Oglala Lakota leader  

Todd M. Kerstetter

American Horse (1840?–16 December 1908), Oglala Lakota leader, known to his people as Waśiču Taśunka, was the son of Sitting Bear, an Oglala chief, and an unknown mother. His birthplace is not known.

The name American Horse carries a complex history. In addition to two unrelated Oglala leaders who lived during the same era, Sitting Bear may also have been called by the name, as was at least one Cheyenne. American Horse the elder, known to Oglalas as Iron Shield or Iron Plume, was born around 1830 and established a reputation as a warrior and leader, probably participating in ...


Ann (fl. 1706–1718), queen of Pamunkey  

James H. O’Donnell III

Ann (fl. 1706–1718), queen of Pamunkey, may have ruled as late as 1723. The Pamunkey people of Virginia were part of the larger grouping that had once been known as Powhatan’s confederacy. In the century after the arrival of the Europeans not only had the larger tribal polity declined but also the population had diminished and the land base had dwindled. The collapse of the confederacy had presented leadership challenges to the several tribes. One crisis that emerged was the death of tribal leaders in intertribal wars, struggles largely precipitated by their support of the English colonial governments. The best-known example of this, the death of Totopotomoy in 1656 in battle with the Rickohokans, brought his widow Cockacoeske to the position of queen of the Pamunkeys, a role she played for almost thirty years. Following in this tradition were two more Pamunkey queens, Betty and Ann, whose leadership was exercised early in the eighteenth century. By that time, moreover, their ascendance to leadership may also have been a function of declining population that left women of prominent families as the only choice to lead the tribe....


Applegate, Jesse (1811-1888), Oregon pioneer and publicist  

Kathryn D. Snavely

Applegate, Jesse (05 July 1811–22 April 1888), Oregon pioneer and publicist, was born in Kentucky, the son of Daniel Applegate, a veteran of the revolutionary war, and Rachel Lindsay. When he was ten his family moved to Missouri, where his father was the village schoolmaster and deputy surveyor general. In 1827 and 1828 Applegate attended Rock Spring Seminary in Shiloh, Illinois, where he showed talent in mathematics and surveying. Later he continued private study of these subjects while teaching school. He then secured a position clerking for the surveyor general’s office in St. Louis and was promoted quickly to deputy surveyor general; he spent much of his time surveying in the western part of Missouri. In 1832 he married Cynthia Parker and settled on a farm in Osage Valley, where the couple lived for twelve years and had several children....


Aquash, Annie Mae (27 March 1945– December 1975), First Nations (Mi'kmaq) activist and American Indian Movement leader  

Simone Poliandri

Aquash, Annie Mae (27 March 1945– December 1975), First Nations (Mi'kmaq) activist and American Indian Movement leader, First Nations (Mi’kmaq) activist and American Indian Movement leader, was born Annie Mae Pictou in the Shubenacadie band (now Indian Brook First Nation) reserve in central Nova Scotia, Canada, the youngest daughter of Mary Ellen Pictou and Francis Thomas Levi. (Most contemporary sources refer to her as Anna, but family members confirmed that Annie is the accurate form of her given name.) Her father left the family shortly before her birth, and Annie Mae spent the first four years of her life in the Shubenacadie reserve. Her mother remarried and brought her three daughters to live in the small Pictou Landing reserve near New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, where she also gave birth to a fourth child....


Arapoosh (1789/1794?–1834), Crow Indian chief  

Tim Bernardis

Arapoosh (1789/1794?–1834), Crow Indian chief, whose name is Eelápuash in modern Crow language orthography or Sore Belly (often mistranslated in historical accounts as Rotten Belly) in English, was a River Crow chief well known to early white trappers and traders. Many details of his life are unknown. Described as a fine tall man, Arapoosh as a youth had fasted in the Crazy Mountains in what is now Montana, where he received his medicine (spiritual power), the thunder. The Thunderbird appeared to him in a vision and showed him how to lead a war party as well as how to make war medicine so his trail would be clear. It may have been after this vision that he made his shield, or he may have been given the shield during a vision of the moon on another fast. This shield is said to have had powers of prophecy that aided him in battle. It was used long after his death, even into the reservation period. Eventually it was purchased and placed in a Chicago museum....


Ashley, William Henry (1778-1838), fur trader and politician  

David J. Wishart

Ashley, William Henry (1778–26 March 1838), fur trader and politician, was born in Chesterfield County, Virginia. His parents are unknown, and there is no definitive record of his early years. In 1798 Ashley moved west to Kentucky. Four years later he crossed the Mississippi and took up residence in the lead-mining community of St. Genevieve (now in Missouri). From that time until his death, Ashley energetically and successfully pursued profits and power in the fluid frontier society....


Atsidi, Sani (1830-1917), Navajo silversmith  

Peter Iverson

Atsidi, Sani (1830–1917), Navajo silversmith, was born in Navajo country in present-day Arizona near Canyon de Chelly, a member of the Dibelizhini (Black Sheep) clan. His parents’ names and occupations are unknown. Given the era, it is safe to assume that his parents were typical members of Navajo society who raised sheep and farmed. As a young man, Atsidi Sani, or Old Smith in English, learned ironwork from a Mexican in the Mount Taylor area of western New Mexico. Nakai Tsosi (Thin Mexican), as the Navajos called him, apparently became friends with Atsidi Sani despite the frequent conflict between their two peoples during this period. Atsidi Sani’s initial efforts with ironwork concentrated in a commercially profitable endeavor: he learned to make bridles. Navajos who previously had been compelled to purchase bridles for their horses from Mexican ironworkers could now turn to a local source....


Attakullakulla (1705-1780), Cherokee chief  

James C. Kelly

Attakullakulla (1705–1780), Cherokee chief , known to whites as Little Carpenter, was raised in the Cherokee towns along the Little Tennessee and Hiwassee rivers called the Overhill towns because they lay across the mountains from the Cherokee villages in the Carolinas. Nothing is known of Attakullakulla before 1730, the year in which he was among seven Cherokees who went to London with ...


Austin, Stephen Fuller (03 November 1793–27 December 1836), founder of Anglo-Texas  

Robert A. Calvert

Austin, Stephen Fuller (03 November 1793–27 December 1836), founder of Anglo-Texas, was born in Wythe County, Virginia, the son of Moses Austin, an entrepreneur in lead mining, and Maria Brown. At age five Austin moved with his family to Potosi, Missouri, a town founded by his father. Moses Austin sent his son to various schools in Connecticut (1804–1808) and to Transylvania University (1809–1810) in Lexington, Kentucky. Stephen joined his father’s business ventures in the spring of 1810, managing the lead-mining operation as well as working in the family store....