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Adamson, Joy (1910-1980), writer and conservationist  

Emily A. Haddad

Adamson, Joy (20 January 1910–03 January 1980), writer and conservationist, was born Friederike Viktoria Gessner in Troppau, Austria, the daughter of Victor Gessner, a civil servant, and Traute Greipel. Before her first marriage, to automobile company official Viktor von Klarwill in 1935, Adamson studied piano and took courses in other arts, including sculpture. She made her first trip to Kenya in 1936, to investigate that country as a possible new home for herself and her husband, whose Jewish background made him eager to leave Austria at this time of Nazi advance. During this trip she became involved with Peter Bally, a Swiss botanist whom she married in 1938 after becoming divorced from von Klarwill in 1937....


Alston, Melvin Ovenus (1911-1985), educator  

Peter Wallenstein

Alston, Melvin Ovenus (07 October 1911–30 December 1985), educator, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of William Henry “Sonnie” Alston, a drayman, and Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Smith, a laundress. Of middle-class background in terms of an African-American family in the urban South in the 1920s, he grew up in a house that his family owned, free of any mortgage. After attending Norfolk’s segregated black public schools and graduating from Booker T. Washington High School, he graduated from Virginia State College (B.S., 1935), honored for his debating and for excellence in scholarship, and began teaching math at Booker T. Washington High School in 1935. Beginning in 1937 he served as president of the Norfolk Teachers Association, and he also held local leadership positions in the Young Men’s Christian Association and the First Calvary Baptist Church....


Blitzstein, Marc (02 March 1905–22 January 1964), composer  

Anne Bill Foradori

Blitzstein, Marc (02 March 1905–22 January 1964), composer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Marcus Blitzstein, a banker, and Anna Levitt. Blitzstein was afforded every opportunity for early musical training. He began piano studies at age three and at age seven made his concert debut and began to compose. He attended Philadelphia public schools and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a full merit scholarship. In 1921 he was the gold medalist in a Philharmonic Society of Philadelphia contest, leading to a performance with the Academy of Music orchestra the following season. In 1922 he left the university without taking a degree and studied piano privately with Alexander Siloti in New York....


Bodenheim, Maxwell (1892-1954), poet, critic, and novelist  

Deborah Hatheway

Bodenheim, Maxwell (26 May 1892–07 February 1954), poet, critic, and novelist, was born in Hermanville, Mississippi, the son of Solomon Bodenheimer and Caroline Herman. An emigrant from Alsace, Solomon Bodenheimer never found financial or professional security; his career included stints as a traveling whiskey salesman and unsuccessful forays into clothing stores and men’s haberdashery. The daughter of a distinguished and wealthy surgeon, Caroline Bodenheimer came from a milieu that was vastly different from that of her husband. Indeed, the town of Hermanville itself obtained its name from Caroline Bodenheimer’s uncle, M. B. Herman, who had founded the town and established a small mercantile empire there. Caroline’s tales of lost prosperity provided a bitter contrast to the impoverished world in which Maxwell Bodenheim was reared....


Cover Bodenheim, Maxwell (1892-1954)

Bodenheim, Maxwell (1892-1954)  


Maxwell Bodenheim. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112040).


California Joe (1829-1876), plainsman and army scout  

E. D. Lloyd-Kimbrel

California Joe (08 May 1829–29 October 1876), plainsman and army scout, was born Moses Embree Milner in Standford, Kentucky, the son of Sarah Ann and Embree Armstead Milner, planters. Plantation life in the Kentucky wilderness was hardly genteel; the Milner home was a log cabin, as was the schoolhouse where the young Milner was an able student. Along with “book learning,” Milner excelled in tracking and hunting, which meant his family always had fresh meat to eat. Even as a boy he was known for his skill in shooting his father’s long-barreled rifle, a talent his family regarded as wholly in keeping with his father’s past military experiences in ...


Canby, Edward Richard Sprigg (1817-1873), Civil War general  

Ronald Bruce Frankum

Canby, Edward Richard Sprigg (09 November 1817–11 April 1873), Civil War general, was born in Piatt’s Landing, Kentucky, the son of Israel T. Canby, a land speculator and politician, and Elizabeth Piatt. Canby received an appointment to West Point and graduated thirtieth out of thirty-one in the class of 1839. Shortly after graduation he married Louisa Hawkins; they had one child, who died young. He began his military career as a second lieutenant with the Second Regiment of the U.S. Infantry. Canby gained his first military leadership experience during the confrontation with the Seminole Nation in northern Florida, 1840–1842, and his first administrative experience in the Adjutant General’s Office during garrison duty at Fort Niagara, 1842–1846. At the end of this duty, in June 1846, he received promotion to first lieutenant and, in 1847, to captain as assistant adjutant general. During the Mexican War Canby fought beside ...


Cover Canby, Edward Richard Sprigg (1817-1873)

Canby, Edward Richard Sprigg (1817-1873)  


Edward R. S. Canby. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-6574).


Cermak, Anton Joseph (1873-1933), mayor of Chicago, Illinois  

Albert Erlebacher

Cermak, Anton Joseph (09 May 1873–06 March 1933), mayor of Chicago, Illinois, was born in Kladno, Czechoslovakia (then a province in the Austro-Hungarian Empire), the son of Anton Cermak, a miner, and Catherine Frank. Cermak’s family arrived in the United States in 1874 and settled in Braidwood, Illinois, where young Cermak had a few years of schooling before he moved to Chicago in 1889. He engaged in a number of businesses including wood hauling, real estate, and insurance. In 1894 he married Mary Horejs, with whom he had three children. He began his political career in 1894 as an assistant precinct captain and gradually worked his way up until 1902 when he won election as state representative. From then until his death he always held one or more elective appointments in Chicago, Cook County, or the state of Illinois, as well as Democratic party offices. Beginning in 1902 he won four successive elections to the Illinois state legislature. In 1909 he was elected alderman in Chicago, representing a predominantly Czech ward. The Czech ethnic group was to be the base for his political success at the city, county, and state levels....


Colvocoresses, George Musalas (1816-1872), naval officer  

Paul David Nelson

Colvocoresses, George Musalas (22 October 1816–03 June 1872), naval officer, was born on the Greek island of Chios, the son of Constantine Colvocoresses and Franka Grimaldi. In 1822 he was kidnapped by Turks, who massacred most of the Greek population of the island, and was taken to Smyrna. His father, who survived the slaughter, ransomed him with the assistance of relatives. Seeing little hope for the boy’s future in Greece, the elder Colvocoresses seized an opportunity through the Greek Relief Committee to put his son on board the U.S. brig ...


Cornstalk (?– November 1777), Shawnee leader  

John Sugden

Cornstalk (?– November 1777), Shawnee leader, had the Indian name Hokoleskwa, meaning “a blade of corn”; his original name was also rendered in the white settlers’ records as Colesqua, Keightughque, and Semachquaan. His early life is obscure. A document of 1764 identifies him with Tawnamebuck, a Shawnee who attended the council at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1748, but is probably in error. In a speech of 1775 Cornstalk seems to describe himself as the son of White Fish, but Matthew Arbuckle, who knew them both, implies otherwise in a letter of December 1776. Records of the Moravian missionaries, who knew Cornstalk well, indicate that he was the son or grandson of the noted headman Paxinosa, and there are circumstances that suggest that this was true. Cornstalk may have spent part of his youth on the Wyoming, near present-day Plymouth, Pennsylvania, where Paxinosa’s band was living from the late 1720s. Although some members of this village appear to have been Pekowi Shawnee, Cornstalk belonged to the Mekoche division, which supplied the tribal civil chief. Paxinosa was friendly to the British, enjoyed a good relationship with the Moravians, and did not aid the French when the Seven Years’ War began. Instead, he moved closer to the neutral Iroquois peoples, in 1756 to the site of present-day Athens, Pennsylvania, and then to what is now Canisteo, New York. For this reason it is difficult to credit statements made long afterward that Cornstalk led a raid upon Carr’s Creek, Virginia, in 1759....


Crandall, Prudence (1803-1890), abolitionist and teacher  

Sandra Opdycke

Crandall, Prudence (03 September 1803–28 January 1890), abolitionist and teacher, was born in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, the daughter of Pardon Crandall, a Quaker farmer, and Esther Carpenter. When Crandall was ten her family moved to another farm in Canterbury, Connecticut. As a young woman she spent a few years (1825–1826, 1827–1830) at the New England Friends’ Boarding School in Providence and also taught school for a time in Plainfield, Connecticut....


Crane, Bob (1928-1978), actor  

Robert A. Armour

Crane, Bob (13 July 1928–29 June 1978), actor, was born Bob Edward Crane in Waterbury, Connecticut, the son of Alfred T. Crane and Rosemary Senich. Following graduation from high school, Crane studied music in Waterbury with plans to become a professional drummer. He played with the Connecticut Symphony from 1944 until 1946, when he left to perform with several dance bands touring the East Coast. Following a stint with the Connecticut national guard from 1948 until 1950, he became a radio disc jockey with a reputation for humor and a glib manner. Between 1950 and 1956 he worked for radio stations in New York and Connecticut before moving to station KNX in Hollywood, California, where he remained until 1965. His humor and clowning made the show a quick success....


Crazy Horse (1840-1877), Oglala Lakota war chief  

Joseph C. Porter

Crazy Horse (1840–05 September 1877), Oglala Lakota war chief, was born near Bear Butte in present-day South Dakota, the son of Crazy Horse, a noted Oglala warrior and medicine man, and (according to some sources) Rattle Blanket Woman, a Minicoujou Lakota of the prestigious Lone Horn family. By 1861 the boy had inherited the name Crazy Horse from his father. Believing himself informed by visions and protected by war medicines prepared by Horn Chips, a respected Oglala ...


Doublehead (?– August 1807), Cherokee leader  

John Sugden

Doublehead (?– August 1807), Cherokee leader, whose Indian name was Tal-tsu-ska, was born probably on the Little Tennessee River. He has been described as the brother of the influential Cherokee chiefs Old Tassel and Tolluntuskee and rose to prominence in the wars that followed the murder of the former by North Carolinians in June 1788. Although he described himself as “but a boy” in 1793, he was of sufficient standing to put his name to the treaty of the Holston in 1791, which he signed against the name “Chuqualatague, Doublehead.”...


Europe, James Reese (22 February 1880–09 May 1919), music administrator, conductor, and composer  

Reid Badger

Europe, James Reese (22 February 1880–09 May 1919), music administrator, conductor, and composer, was born in Mobile, Alabama, the son of Henry J. Europe, an Internal Revenue Service employee and Baptist minister, and Lorraine Saxon. Following the loss of his position with the Port of Mobile at the end of the Reconstruction, Europe’s father moved his family to Washington, D.C., in 1890 to accept a position with the U.S. Postal Service. Both of Europe’s parents were musical, as were some of his siblings. Europe attended the elite M Street High School for blacks and studied violin, piano, and composition with Enrico Hurlei of the U.S. Marine Corps band and with Joseph Douglass, the grandson of ...


Evers, Medgar (1925-1963), civil rights activist  

Natalie Zacek

Evers, Medgar (02 July 1925–12 June 1963), civil rights activist, was born Medgar Wiley Evers in Decatur, Mississippi, the son of James Evers, a sawmill worker, and Jessie Wright, a domestic worker. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 and served in the invasion of Normandy and the French campaign. After the war ended Evers returned to Mississippi, where he attended Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College, a segregated land-grant institution, from which he graduated in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. While at Alcorn he met a nursing student, Myrlie Beasley, whom he married in 1951; the couple had three children....


Cover Evers, Medgar (1925-1963)

Evers, Medgar (1925-1963)  


Medgar Evers. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109400).


Falkner, William Clark (1825-1889), writer and great-grandfather of novelist William Faulkner  

Judith E. Funston

Falkner, William Clark (06 July 1825–06 November 1889), writer and great-grandfather of novelist William Faulkner, writer and great-grandfather of novelist William Faulkner, was born in Knox County, Tennessee, the son of Joseph Falkner, an immigrant from Scotland, and Caroline Word. Joseph and Caroline Falkner had just embarked on a move from Haywood County, North Carolina, to St. Genevieve, Missouri, when Caroline gave birth to William Clark in Knox County. Once Caroline had recovered, the Falkners settled in St. Genevieve. Joseph’s occupation there is unknown....


Faruqi, Isma‘il Raji al- (1921-1986), scholar of religion and Islamic social activist  

Dina Ripsman Eylon

Faruqi, Isma‘il Raji al- (01 January 1921–27 May 1986), scholar of religion and Islamic social activist, was born in Jaffa, Palestine, the son of ‘Abd al Huda al-Faruqi, a wealthy Muslim judge; his mother’s name is unknown. In 1941 he received a B.A. in philosophy from the American University of Beirut. In 1942 he was employed as a registrar of Cooperative Societies by the British Mandate in Jerusalem, which appointed him in 1945 as the district governor of Galilee. When Israel became an independent Jewish state in 1948, Faruqi fled to the United States and enrolled as a graduate student at Indiana University. In 1949 he graduated with an M.A. in philosophy and was accepted as a graduate student at Harvard University, where in 1951 he earned a second M.A. in philosophy. He then returned to Indiana University, from which he obtained a Ph.D. in 1952. During his graduate studies, Faruqi translated books from Arabic into English for the American Council of Learned Societies. He married Lois Ibsen some time around 1952; they had three daughters and two sons, the younger of which died on a trip to Mexico in March 1986....