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Anza, Juan Bautista de (07 July 1736–19 December 1788), military commander, explorer, and governor, was born in the presidio of Fronteras, Sonora, Mexico, the son of Juan Bautista de Anza, commandant of the post since 1719, and María Rafaela Becerra Nieto; his grandfather was commandant of Janos presidio, Chihuahua. Anza’s father was killed in combat in 1739, but Anza continued in the family tradition, and on 1 December 1752 entered the militia at Fronteras. On 1 July 1755 he was promoted to lieutenant at Fronteras, and, after participating in Indian campaigns in Sonora, he rose in 1760 to the rank of captain and commander of the presidio at Tubac (in present-day Arizona). On 24 June 1761 he married Ana María Pérez Serrano of Arizpe, Sonora, but no children were born of the union....

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Bonneville, Benjamin Louis Eulalie de (14 April 1796–12 June 1878), explorer and army officer, was born in or near Paris, France, the son of Nicolas de Bonneville, a writer-editor, and Margaret Brazier. During the French Revolution Bonneville’s father was prominent in the Cercle Social...

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Brainard, David Legg (21 December 1856–22 March 1946), soldier and Arctic explorer, was born in Norway, New York, the son of Alanson Brainard and Maria Legg, farmers. He attended public school in Norway until age ten, when the family moved to the John Corp farm at Freetown, New York, where his father also operated a dairy. Brainard attended the state normal school in Cortland....

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Denys de la Ronde, Louis (02 August 1675–25 March 1741), French military officer, explorer, and spy, was born in Quebec City, Canada, the son of Pierre Denys de la Ronde, a landowner and merchant (the Crown had given the aristocracy in Canada permission to engage in trade), and Catherine Leneuf de la Potherie. He entered naval service in 1687 as a midshipman in France. During the war of 1689–1697 he served in exiled British king James II’s expedition to Ireland, then off the coast of England, and finally on several voyages to New France and along the coast of New England. Captured at sea in 1695, he was soon released in an exchange of prisoners of war. He served in ...

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Emory, William Hemsley (07 September 1811–01 December 1887), soldier, surveyor, and cartographer, was born on the family plantation, “Poplar Grove,” in Queen Annes County, Maryland, the son of Thomas Emory and Anna Maria Hemsley. In July 1826 William Emory enrolled in the United States Military Academy, where his classmates, to whom he was known as Bold Emory, included ...

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Fabry De La Bruyère, André (fl. 1733–1750), explorer and French colonial officer, , first appears as a commission clerk in French Louisiana in 1733. Nothing is known about Fabry’s birth and parentage. In 1735 he became secretary to Governor Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville...

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Gass, Patrick (12 July 1771–02 April 1870), soldier and member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, was born at Falls Springs, near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, the son of Benjamin Gass, Jr., and Mary McLene (occupations unknown). At the time he joined the Meriwether Lewis...

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A. W. Greely. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62--95948).

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Greely, Adolphus Washington (27 March 1844–20 October 1935), soldier and arctic explorer, was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the son of John Balch Greely, a shoemaker, and Frances D. Cobb, a cotton mill weaver. Greely graduated from Brown High School, Newburyport, in 1860, and in the following year, at the age of seventeen, he joined the Nineteenth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He served as a private, corporal, and first sergeant and was hospitalized for wounds sustained at Antietam, including a facial injury, which he covered with a beard for the remainder of his life. On furlough in 1863 he accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the Fourth U.S. Volunteers (later Eighty-first U.S. Colored Infantry), stationed in Louisiana....

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Ives, Joseph Christmas (25 December 1828–12 November 1868), soldier, engineer, and explorer, was born in New York City, the son of Ansel Wilmot Ives and Laura (maiden name unknown), occupations unknown. Little is known of his early years. Apparently, he was raised in a boardinghouse in New Haven, Connecticut. He attended Yale College and graduated fifth in his class at West Point in 1852. Commissioned as a brevet second lieutenant of ordnance, Ives served at the Watervliet, New York, arsenal (1852–1853) and was transferred to the topographical engineers in 1853. He was an assistant topographical engineer on the Pacific Railroad Survey (1853–1854) and in the Pacific Railroad Office in Washington, D.C. (1854–1857). In 1855 he married Cora Semmes, who came from a prominent southern family; they eventually had three children, all sons, two of whom would serve in the U.S. military. In 1857 Ives was promoted to first lieutenant and was named to lead an expedition up the Colorado River in order to develop potential routes of supply in the event of a war between the national government and the Mormon settlements in Deseret (Utah)....

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La Vérendrye, Pierre Gaultier de (17 November 1685–05 December 1749), explorer, military officer, and post commander, was born in Trois-Rivières, Canada, the son of René Gaultier de Varennes, a governor of Trois-Rivières, and Marie-Ursule Boucher, the daughter of Pierre Boucher, a former governor of Trois-Rivières....

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Bienville. Engraving by John Chester Buttre. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-100821).

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Le Moyne, Jean-Baptiste (baptized 23 Feb. 1680–07 March 1767), French soldier, explorer, and governor of colonial Louisiana, was born in Montréal, New France, the son of Charles Le Moyne, sieur de Longueuil et de Châteauguay, a provincial nobleman, and Catherine Thierry Primot. Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne inherited the title ...

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Le Moyne, Pierre (baptized 20 July 1661–09 July 1706), French soldier, explorer, and governor of colonial Louisiana, was born at Ville-Marie de Montréal, New France, the son of Charles Le Moyne, sieur de Longueuil et de Châteauguay, a provincial nobleman, and Catherine Thierry Primot. The early life of Pierre Le Moyne, known as the sieur d’Iberville, is veiled in obscurity. It is known that he was groomed for naval duty by his influential father through service aboard his father’s ship. In 1683 he was entrusted with Governor Le Febvre de La Barre’s dispatches for the French Crown. It was also in that year that Jeanne-Geneviève Picoté de Belestre’s guardians brought a paternity suit against Iberville, claiming that the young Canadian officer was responsible for her pregnancy. The Conseil Souverain, Canada’s court of last resort, concurred with the plaintiffs and ordered Iberville to support the child until its fifteenth birthday....

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Meriwether Lewis. In Indian garb. Engraving by Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin, published in The Analectic Magazine, 1816. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-11953).

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Meriwether Lewis. From an engraving by Charles Févret de Saint-Mémin, 1805. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-2970).

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Lewis, Meriwether (18 August 1774–11 October 1809), explorer and soldier, was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, the son of William Lewis, a planter, and Lucy Meriwether. The family was prominent in the area, and moved in circles that included Thomas Jefferson. William Lewis died when his son was five. His mother remarried, and Lewis spent part of his childhood in Georgia. He returned to Virginia in his early teens and attended a number of local schools. His formal education ended at the age of eighteen. From that time on, he was in charge of “Locust Hill,” the family plantation in Albemarle County....

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Long, Stephen Harriman (30 December 1784–04 September 1864), army explorer and engineer, was born in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, the son of Moses Long, a farmer, tradesman, and local politician, and Lucy Harriman. In 1809 he graduated from Dartmouth College, and he spent the next five years teaching at Salisbury, New Hampshire, and Germantown, Pennsylvania. In those positions he demonstrated a high level of mathematical skill while becoming a surveyor and an inventor. Soon he came to the attention of U.S. army chief of engineers General ...

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Moore, James (1650–1706), politician, soldier, and explorer, emigrated from Barbados to Carolina in 1675. Sometime in the 1670s he married Margaret Berringer, stepdaughter of Carolina governor Sir John Yeamans; they had ten children. He acquired land grants in the Goose Creek region of Carolina and settled his family there. In 1684 he imported thirty-seven indentured servants to Carolina, for whom he obtained headright grants, thereby adding to his landholding. In addition to his plantations, Boochawee Hall and Wassamassaw, Moore was an Indian trader and a trader in Indian slaves. In 1690 he explored the Appalachian Mountains in northwestern Carolina in search of gold and silver....

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Mullan, John (31 July 1830–28 December 1909), army explorer, road builder, and lawyer, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of John Mullan, a civil servant, and Mary Bright. The eldest of ten children, Mullan grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, where his father was postmaster at the U.S. Naval Academy. He received his education, beginning at the age of nine, at St. John’s College in Annapolis, from which he received a B.A. in 1847 and an M.A. in 1855. Family tradition holds that Mullan sought a personal interview with President ...