- Stephen M. Zeigler
Niles, Hezekiah (10 October 1777–02 August 1839), journalist and historical documentarian, was born near Chadds Ford in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Hezekiah Niles, a carpenter, and Mary Way. Two months before his birth, his Quaker family had fled their home in Wilmington, Delaware, to escape invading British soldiers. Niles’s father was killed shortly before the boy’s fourteenth birthday when a signpost fell on him as he was leaving his carpentry shop. Niles was probably educated at the Friends School in Wilmington before becoming apprenticed at the age of seventeen to Benjamin Johnson, a printer, bookbinder, and bookseller. Johnson was a surrogate father, affording the eager boy continuing education by giving him free access to his library. Niles rose early each morning to read before going to work, where he was just as diligent, achieving while still young a reputation as the quickest, most efficient typesetter in America....