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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 ...


Bordley, John Beale (1727-1804), agricultural theorist and lawyer  

Simon Baatz

Bordley, John Beale (11 February 1727–26 January 1804), agricultural theorist and lawyer, was born in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of Thomas Bordley, a lawyer, and Ariana Vanderheyden Frisby. At the age of twenty-one, Bordley inherited land from his father. In 1751, after his marriage in that year to Margaret Chew, this property was combined with the private fortune of his wife, and he devoted considerable effort to tending his estate near Joppa close to Baltimore. The couple had four children. Bordley also studied law in the office of his brother Stephen, and in 1753 he was appointed prothonotary (chief clerk) of Baltimore County; he simultaneously established a law practice that encompassed Cecil County, Harford County, and Baltimore County. In 1765 Bordley resigned his clerkship in protest of the Stamp Act and moved his law practice to Baltimore, where he soon attracted such renown that in 1766 he was appointed judge of the Provincial Court of Maryland and in 1768 a member of the commission to determine the line between Maryland and Delaware....


Breckinridge, John (1760-1806), lawyer, planter, and statesman  

Lowell H. Harrison

Breckinridge, John (02 December 1760–14 December 1806), lawyer, planter, and statesman, was born on a farm near Staunton, Virginia, the son of Robert Breckinridge, a farmer and member of the local gentry, and Lettice Preston. While John was still a boy the family moved to the frontier part of Augusta County that became Botetourt County. Determined to acquire an education, John entered William and Mary College in late 1780 or early 1781. His attendance was irregular, but when he left the school in 1784 he had studied for some two years, much of it under the guidance of ...


Cassidy, Butch (13 April 1866–1908? or 1937?), outlaw and rancher  

Dee Brown

Cassidy, Butch (13 April 1866–1908? or 1937?), outlaw and rancher, was born Robert LeRoy Parker in Beaver, Utah, the oldest of thirteen children of Maximillian Parker and Ann Gillies, small ranchers. His British-born parents were Mormons who pulled handcarts across the Great Plains to Utah in 1856. As a teenager growing up near Circleville, Utah, Parker was influenced by cowhand Mike Cassidy, who taught him to ride, shoot, rope, brand, and rustle cattle and horses. Under suspicion by local authorities, Parker and Cassidy left Utah in 1884. Parker went to Telluride, Colorado, where he found employment with a mining company. There he met Tom McCarty, a bank robber, and soon joined the McCarty Gang. On 24 June 1889, he participated in a bank robbery at Telluride, after which he drifted into Wyoming. Because he was now wanted by the law, Parker took the surname of his boyhood idol, calling himself George Cassidy. While working in a butcher’s shop in Rock Springs, Wyoming, he became Butch Cassidy....


Dart, Isom (1848-1900), black cowboy and rustler  

Carl V. Hallberg

Dart, Isom (1848–03 October 1900), black cowboy and rustler, also known as Ned Huddleston, was born in Arkansas. Dart’s early life is an enigma. Biographical accounts give a lively “Wild West” picture of an itinerant cowboy and occasional gang member based on legend and folklore. What is known is that sometime in the mid-1880s, Dart settled in Brown’s Hole, an isolated area where the borders of Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah meet. He worked initially for the Middlesex Land and Cattle Company but later found gainful employment on the Bassett Ranch....


Deitz, John F. (1861-1924), farmer and outlaw  

Paul H. Hass

Deitz, John F. (03 April 1861–08 May 1924), farmer and outlaw, was born in Winneconne, Wisconsin, the son of John Deitz (also spelled Dietz), Sr., a New York farmer who moved to Wisconsin before the Civil War. His mother’s name and occupation are unknown. A few years after the war, the Deitz family moved north and west, seeking cheap farmland in the logged-over region of Wisconsin known as the Cutover. John, Jr., grew up in a log cabin, attended common school, and as a young man dabbled in real estate, ran for minor local offices, and eked out a marginal existence from a small farm. Like many another backwoods farmer, he also hunted, trapped, did odd jobs, and seasonally worked for the logging companies. In 1882 he married Hattie Young, a part-time schoolteacher, with whom he had six children....


Doolin, William (1858-1896), cowboy and bank and train robber  

Frank R. Prassel

Doolin, William (1858–25 August 1896), cowboy and bank and train robber, was born in Johnson County, Arkansas, the son of Michael Doolin and Artemina Beller, farmers. Bill Doolin had a normal childhood and remained on the family farm until 1881. He was a tall, slender man, lacking a formal education and barely literate but generally regarded as intelligent and personable. At twenty-three, Doolin left home to seek his fortune on the closing frontier. He quickly became a proficient cowboy for Oscar Halsell and other ranchers operating near the Cimarron and Arkansas rivers of the Oklahoma Territory. For several years Doolin worked his way across the western ranges of Wyoming, Montana, California, Arizona, and New Mexico, earning the reputation of a reliable, capable, and good-natured hand. He was considered to be a fine rider, an excellent shot, and a natural leader when he returned to the cattle ranches of Oklahoma....


Fitzhugh, William (1651-1701), lawyer and planter  

W. Hamilton Bryson

Fitzhugh, William (1651–21 October 1701), lawyer and planter, was born in Bedford, England, and was baptized there on 10 January 1651, the son of Henry Fitzhugh, a woolen draper, and Mary King, the daughter of the vicar of Tempsford in Bedfordshire. The Fitzhughs had been a prominent middle-class family in Bedford for many generations. William received a classical grammar school education in England and read law in the office of an English lawyer before emigrating to the Northern Neck of Virginia. The exact date of his settling in Virginia is unknown, but it was sometime before February 1674. Later that year he married Sarah Tucker of Westmoreland County, Virginia. She was eleven years of age and a member of a prosperous and well-connected family. They would have six children....


Gibbons, Thomas (1757-1826), planter, lawyer, and steamship owner  

Carol S. Ebel

Gibbons, Thomas (15 December 1757–16 May 1826), planter, lawyer, and steamship owner, was born near Savannah, Georgia, the son of Joseph Gibbons and Hannah Martin, planters. Gibbons was schooled at home and in Charleston, South Carolina, where he also read law. He married Ann Heyword, but the date of the marriage is unknown. They had three children. Throughout his life Gibbons demonstrated a determined spirit. Contemporaries described him as a “high liver,” possessing a “strong mind, strong passions, strong prejudices, and strong self-will” (Halsted, pp. 16–17)....


Goldsborough, Robert (1733-1788), lawyer and planter  

Jane Wilson McWilliams

Goldsborough, Robert (03 December 1733–22 December 1788), lawyer and planter, was born in Cambridge, Dorchester County, Maryland, the son of Charles Goldsborough, a lawyer, legislator, and large landowner, and his first wife Elizabeth Ennalls. When Robert was five and a half years old, his father married Elizabeth Dickinson, half sister of ...


Hilgard, Theodor Erasmus (07 July 1790–26 January 1873), jurist and "Latin farmer"  

Marie-Luise Frings

Hilgard, Theodor Erasmus (07 July 1790–26 January 1873), jurist and "Latin farmer", jurist and “Latin farmer,” was born in Marnheim near Kirchheimbolanden in the Rhenish Palatinate, the son of Jakob Hilgard, a Protestant clergyman, and his wife, Maria Dorothea Engelmann. Growing up in wartime in a family that strongly sympathized with the principles of the French Revolution, he spent part of his childhood with his maternal grandparents in Bacharach; his uncle Peter Engelmann continued to take a special interest in the boy’s education. Hilgard read law at the universities of Heidelberg (1807), Göttingen (1808–1809), and Paris (1810), completing his studies at the law academy at Koblenz in 1811 as ...


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. ...


Cover Laurens, Henry (1724-1792)

Laurens, Henry (1724-1792)  

Maker: John Singleton Copley


Henry Laurens. Reproduction of a painting by John Singleton Copley, 1781. Courtesy of the National Archives (NWDNS-148-CP-213).


Livingston, Robert Robert (1718-1775), landowner, attorney, and politician  

Mary Lou Lustig

Livingston, Robert Robert ( August 1718–09 December 1775), landowner, attorney, and politician, was born in New York, the only son and heir of Robert Livingston and Margaret Howarden. His father, a younger son of manor lord Robert Livingston, was given a portion of land, called “Clermont,” at the southern end of Livingston Manor. In 1742 Livingston married Margaret Beekman, the heir of Colonel ...


Lynch, Charles (1736-1796), planter  

Brent Tarter

Lynch, Charles (1736–29 October 1796), planter, and the man whose name probably gave rise to the phrase “lynch law,” was born in Virginia (town unknown), the son of Charles Lynch and Sarah Clark, Quakers who had immigrated to Virginia from Ireland. The city of Lynchburg, Virginia, which is located at the site of Lynch’s ferry over the James River, was named for a member of the family, probably his brother John Lynch. As a young man, Charles Lynch served as clerk of the Friends’ South River monthly meeting, but he probably did not share the antipathy to slavery that Quakers increasingly manifested during the latter portion of the eighteenth century, and he did not scruple in April 1767 to take the oaths to qualify as a justice of the peace of Bedford County, Virginia. For taking the oaths and attempting to justify his conduct, the South River monthly meeting disowned him on 20 December 1767. Lynch lived in the portion of Bedford County that became Campbell County in 1781, and he served as a justice of the peace in the new county too. In 1755 he married Anne (or Anna) Terrell, who was also a Quaker and according to her gravestone remained a member of the Society of Friends until her death. The couple had five children....


Marigny, Bernard (1785-1868), Creole planter and politician  

Paul David Nelson

Marigny, Bernard (28 October 1785–03 February 1868), Creole planter and politician, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Pierre Enguerrand Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville, a Spanish army officer and rich landowner, and Jeanne Marie d’Estréhan, daughter of a distinguished family. He was christened Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville and grew up in the richest family in the French colony of Louisiana. When Marigny was fifteen his father died, at which time Lino de Chalmette, a relative, became his guardian. Already Marigny had developed into an unruly, spoiled young man, so addicted to gambling that Chalmette could not control him. Hence Marigny was dispatched to Pensacola, Florida, and placed in the care of a wealthy merchant named Panton, who found him so impossible that he immediately sent him back. Chalmette then sent Marigny to England, where he lived on an extravagant allowance, mingled with the best society, met Lord Byron, and continued his dissipated ways. Soon he was deeply in debt to London and Parisian gamblers. Returning to New Orleans after his eighteenth birthday, he came into possession of his entire fortune of $7 million but was compelled to liquidate a plantation in order to pay his creditors. Supposedly he maintained an entire street of houses on what he called “Rue de l’Amour” to shelter his numerous mistresses....


Marsh, John (1799-1856), California ranchero and physician  

Michael Magliari

Marsh, John (05 June 1799–24 September 1856), California ranchero and physician, was born in Danvers, Massachusetts, the son of John Marsh and Mary “Polly” Brown, farmers. After graduating from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1819, Marsh received his B.A. from Harvard in 1823. That year he accepted an appointment as a tutor at Fort St. Anthony (later Fort Snelling), in Michigan Territory. For two years Marsh taught school and studied medicine under the guidance of Edward Purcell, the post surgeon. Purcell died without giving his apprentice a certificate, but this did not prevent Marsh from successfully practicing medicine years later in California....


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 ...


Cover Mason, John Young (1799-1859)
John Young Mason. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109927).


McIntosh, Lachlan (1727-1806), planter and Continental army officer  

Harvey H. Jackson

McIntosh, Lachlan (05 March 1727–20 February 1806), planter and Continental army officer, was born in Badenoch, Inverness-shire, Scotland, the son of clan chieftain John McIntosh Mohr and Margaret (or Marjorie) Fraser. McIntosh arrived in Georgia in January 1736 as part of a shipload of Highland Scots sent to guard the colony’s southern frontier. Led by McIntosh’s father, the expedition founded the Altamaha River town of Darien, which was a military center during the War of Jenkins’s Ear. In 1748 McIntosh went to Charleston, South Carolina, where he met ...