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John G. Turner

Latter-day Saint elder and Utah pioneer, was born in northern Maryland to Andrew Abel and Delila Williams. Abel left the area as a young man. Little is known of his early life; it is unclear whether he was born enslaved or free. One later census identified Abel as a “quadroon,” but others listed him as “Black” or “Mulatto.”

In 1832, Abel was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and soon gathered with the Mormons in Kirtland, Ohio. In 1836, he was ordained to the church's Melchizedek or higher priesthood, making him one of a very small number of African American men to “hold the priesthood” during the church's early years. An expectation for all righteous adult male members of the church, priesthood meant the possibility of leadership positions and the authority to perform ordinances. In December 1836 Abel had become a ...

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Miles M. Jackson

explorer and businessman, was born a slave in German Flats, New York. He was owned by the Dougal family and spent his youth in Schenectady. It is very likely his mother was a slave (New York did not abolish slavery until 1827); his father was a freeman and a mariner. Following the death of his master, he was purchased by another owner. After gaining his freedom in 1796, Allen arrived in Boston in 1800 and went to sea just as his father had done. Indeed, many African Americans living in Boston had ties to the maritime industry in some way. Like other black mariners, Allen faced the risk of reenslavement when he traveled to Southern ports. Once he was saved from imprisonment by one of the ship's owners, who paid $300 for his release.

Allen's years at sea between 1800 and 1810 provided him with unique experiences ...

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M. W. Daly

British adventurer, explorer, and administrator, was born in London to Samuel Baker, a businessman, and his wife. Educated in England and Germany, and a civil engineer by training, he played a notable role in the history of the Upper Nile in the 1860s. His varied and peripatetic life as a planter, big-game hunter, writer, and controversialist may be studied in his extensive writings and the enormous literature on European travel in Africa.

His work in Africa began in 1861–1865 with explorations in the eastern Sudan, up the White Nile, (where he met James Augustus Grant and John Hanning Speke), and beyond to the Great Lakes. Credit for discovery of the source of the Nile has gone to Grant and Speke; Baker, famously accompanied by his second wife, Florence, explored and named Lake Albert Nyanza. For these adventures, embellished in several books, Baker was much acclaimed, and in 1869 as ...

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Jeremy Rich

cartographer, ethnographer, and traveler to Africa, was born in Vienna, then capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the son of Heinrich Baumann, who worked at a bank, and a mother, whose name is not recorded. His family had some Jewish ancestry, which would in 1938 prompt the Nazi government of Austria to destroy a monument erected to celebrate his African exploration. Though his parents do not seem to have been very prosperous, his distant relations in the wealthy von Arnstein banking family paid for his secondary education. Baumann attended primary and secondary schools in Vienna, and at the age of seventeen, joined the Imperial Royal Geographical Society based in the same city. He did some geographical research in Montenegro and began to study geography and geology at the University of Vienna, but in 1885 took a leave of absence from school to join an Austrian expedition to Central ...

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French explorer and administrator, was born on 26 January 1852 in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, to the aristocratic family of Ascanio Savorgnan de Brazza and Giacinta Simonetti de Brazza. Although he was born and raised in Italy, he volunteered to join the French navy and became an officer in 1869 and served in Algeria. In 1874, he proposed to the French Minister of the Navy an expedition to travel up the Ogooué River, the longest waterway in Gabon, to see if it eventually reached the Congo River. Although French officials had established a small coastal enclave on the northern Gabonese coast in 1843, the limited budget and personnel of the colony had restricted exploration of the Gabonese interior.

Brazza assembled a collection of several dozen Frenchmen and Senegalese soldiers for this mission His ability to combine intimidation with diplomacy proved very useful as he struggled to convince Adouma Fang ...

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After schooling and naval service in France, the Italian-born Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza became a naturalized French citizen in 1874. The following year he led his first official trip to Africa to explore Gabon. From 1875 to 1878 he traveled along the Gabon coast and up the Ogooué River to its source, also reaching the Alima River, a tributary of the Congo River. In 1880, in competition with American journalist and explorer Henry Stanley, Brazza traveled into the Congo River basin interior. There he signed a treaty with leaders of the Téké people, clearing the way for French control of the northern bank of the Congo River, an area that would be known as the Moyen-Congo. He served as general commissioner of the Moyen-Congo from 1884 to 1898, establishing the town that became Brazzaville and building the colonial administration As commissioner Brazza became disenchanted with ...

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Maria Elena Raymond

former slave, western pioneer, church founder, businesswoman, and philanthropist, was born in Gallatin, Tennessee—some sources offer a birth date of 1800—and at the age of three was sold with her mother to a planter in Virginia. There, at the age of eighteen, she married a slave named Richard and had several children. When her owner, Ambrose Smith, died in 1835Clara and her children were auctioned off to different slaveholders. Her daughter Margaret was sold to a slaveholder in Kentucky and reportedly died a few years later. Clara lost contact with her son Richard, who was sold repeatedly. Another daughter, Eliza Jane, was sold to a James Covington, also in Kentucky.Clara was sold again at auction, this time to a Kentucky slaveholder named George Brown a merchant and for the next two decades served the Brown family as a house slave During this ...

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Jeremy Rich

explorer, the son of Colonel Joseph Burton and Martha Beckwith Burton was born on 19 March 1821 in Torquay, Devon, England. As a military officer in the British Army, Joseph Burton traveled regularly, and his son Richard grew up in France and different Italian states. He showed early in life a tremendous gift for learning languages, and he eventually mastered Arabic to the point he regularly passed for an Arab or Persian or an Indian Muslim. Burton was admitted to Oxford University in 1840, but his wild behavior eventually led to his dismissal in 1842. His taste for adventure led him to join the British colonial army in India, and he first visited Africa en route from England via the Cape of Good Hope to Mumbai (Bombay). From 1842 until 1849, Burton mastered Arabic, Farsi, and Hindustani as he served as a British intelligence officer.

Burton ...

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Ari Nave

Sir Richard Burton spoke twenty-five languages and multiple dialects, including Greek, Latin, English, French, Italian, Marathi, Punjab, Arabic, and Hindi. During his travels he observed an enormous range of cultural practices, which he documented in forty-three manuscripts. He also wrote two books of poetry and four volumes of folklore.

Born in Torquay, England, Burton was raised by his English parents primarily in France. He briefly attended Trinity College, Oxford, but was expelled in 1842 for insubordination. He then joined the Bombay army, and served in India (in present-day Pakistan) until 1850. Working as an intelligence officer, Burton learned to impersonate Muslim merchants. His reputation was called into question and his military career cut short, however, when a rival officer spread word that Burton had been investigating homosexual bathhouses in Karachi, failing to divulge that Burton had done so under orders from a senior officer.

After returning to France and ...

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Kenneth Wiggins Porter

William Owen Bush was born in Clay County, Missouri, on July 4, 1832. He was the oldest son of George Washington Bush and Isabella James, born in Tennessee of German ancestry. The Bush family left Missouri in 1844 for the Oregon Territory. In 1845 the family settled in what became known as Bush Prairie, a few miles south of present-day Olympia, Washington. George Bush won esteem there as a progressive, innovative, and generous farmer. William Bush married Mandana Smith Kimsey on May 26, 1859, in Marion County, Oregon. Mandana was the daughter of Dr. J. Smith and Nancy Scott Wisdom Smith, and the widow (1858) of Duff Kimsey, who had been born in Howard County, Missouri, on June 1, 1826. She had crossed to Oregon with her husband and parents in 1847 William and Mandana had three children George O ...

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Jeremy Rich

explorer and colonial official, was born in Nancy, France on 18 November 1864 the son of Charles Victor Crampel a devout Catholic tobacco inspector and Elisabeth Pierret After attending primary school in Nancy and Dordogne Crampel then attended secondary school in Périgueux and Bordeaux Since other civil servants had doubts about Crampel s father s loyalty to the French Republic due to his Catholic faith his career required Paul and the rest of the family to move frequently Like so many other young Frenchmen Crampel became interested in Africa through the work of explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza whose first two expeditions to Africa received much coverage in the French press Crampel viewed both his mother s religious zeal and the discipline he endured in secondary education as backward Rather than continue his education as his father had hoped Crampel quit the prestigious Henry IV school where he ...

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Jeremy Rich

explorer, was born on La Réunion, a French colonial possession in the Indian Ocean, on 31 July 1831. His father was French; his mother was a mixed-race woman from Réunion. Du Chaillu later tried to hide his mixed-race ancestry and claimed he had been born in Paris. Du Chaillu's father was forced to flee Réunion to evade legal proceedings before his son's birth. However, Du Chaillu did manage to reach France, where he spent part of his adolescence training in Paris to become a taxidermist. His father found work for a French trading firm in the Gabon Estuary in 1846, which had been colonized by the French navy between 1839 and 1844. This fledgling colonial coastal enclave had attracted only a few French merchants, but was known as a source of ivory and camwood. With the coming of the Revolution of 1848 to France ...

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Raymond Dumett

treaty maker, cartographer, and one of the great West Africans of his generation, was born to an African mother and a Scottish father in the central coastal town of Anomabu in the Gold Coast’s Fanti region in present-day Ghana. Like several prominent members of the African middle class, he was educated at the famous Wesleyan School of Cape Coast. He also attended school in Sierra Leone. On the basis of strong recommendations, Ferguson was selected to join the colonial government as a clerk in 1881. In 1884 he began his career as a mapmaker by drawing a map of the Gold Coast Colony and Protectorate which was of assistance to the governor in showing the approximate boundaries of various linguistic groups their states and chieftaincies Ferguson proceeded from strength to strength and with each new job effectively completed he was rewarded with greater responsibilities by the colonial government ...

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David Killingray

Fantesurveyor and colonial agent born on the Gold Coast and educated in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He became a teacher and then a civil servant. As an employee of the Gold Coast colony he accompanied the Governor on a mission inland, producing a map that showed the ethnic divisions of the colony. He was entrusted with a further mission to the interior that resulted in Akwamu becoming part of the British protectorate. Ferguson's surveying skills were developed by his work with the British–German Boundary Commission of 1886. In 1887 he came to London and studied mining and surveying at the School of Mines, graduating with a first‐class certificate. During the 1890s Ferguson led important political missions to Asante and to the northern hinterland of what is now modern Ghana. By 1894 he had signed eighteen treaties of trade and friendship with northern rulers Ferguson s reports and precise ...

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Mary Fields was born a slave in Tennessee, but little else is known of her early life. Some historical accounts have placed her on the Mississippi River in the early 1870s, and at least one researcher claims that she was a passenger on the Robert E. Lee when it raced the steamer Natchez in June 1870. By 1884 Fields was living in Toledo, Ohio, where she worked as a handywoman for an order of Ursuline nuns. She became attached to the mother superior of the convent, Mother Amadeus, who is variously reported as a close friend or as the master in a master-servant relationship. Shortly after Fields arrived at the convent, Mother Amadeus left for Montana to open a school for Blackfeet Native American girls. When Mother Amadeus fell ill in Helena, Fields came to her aid and decided to stay in Montana.

Fields assisted the Catholic mission ...

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Kelli Cardenas Walsh

The story of Mary Fields is one of race, gender, and age. She was the antithesis of the nineteenth-century Victorian image of womanhood. In an age of domesticity, Fields lived a frontier life dependent upon no one and uninhibited by Jim Crow.

A former slave, in freedom Fields became an independent, gunslinging, liquor-drinking woman in the untamed frontier of Montana. She stood six feet tall and was stout. Details about the early life of Mary Fields are sparse, other than that she was born into slavery in 1832. Judge Dunn in Hickman County, Tennessee, owned Fields and presumably owned her family. She was befriended by her master’s daughter, Dolly, and remained with the family after Emancipation.

Once she left the Dunn family Fields spent an unspecified time in Ohio and along the Mississippi River During this time Dolly joined a convent of Ursuline nuns taking the name of ...

Article

Elizabeth P. Stewart

Arctic explorer, science teacher, and newspaper correspondent, was born Herbert Milton Frisby in South Baltimore, the oldest of the seven children of Ida Frisby (née Henry) and Joseph S. Frisby, a keeper of grain tallies in the port of Baltimore. Born into poverty, young Herbert Frisby worked his way through school by selling peanuts, working as a butler, and playing jazz piano. He graduated from Baltimore Colored High School in 1908 and earned his BA in Liberal Arts from Howard University in 1912. He received an MA in Education from Columbia University in 1936. Frisby married Annie Russell in 1919; they had one son, H. Russell Frisby Sr.

As a sixth-grader Frisby was inspired by the accomplishments of the explorer Matthew Henson, the first African American to reach the North Pole in 1909 with Admiral Robert E. Peary. When Henson ...

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Jeremy Rich

explorer and Baptist missionary pioneer in central Africa, was born in Sancreed, Cornwall, England, on 21 August 1849. His father moved the family to Birmingham in 1852. Although his father was an Anglican, Grenfell became interested in Baptist teachings and attended a Baptist church in his youth. When Grenfell reached the age of fifteen, he joined the great revival of 1859 that swept through much of England and was baptized. Like so many other British and North American missionaries in the nineteenth century, the books of David Livingstone captivated Grenfell with stories of adventure. Before seriously considering a missionary career, Grenfell worked as an apprentice at a hardware factory. This practical training later was extremely valuable in central Africa as Grenfell traveled on his steamer up and down the Congo River. In 1873 he decided to leave behind his work and previous religious training by enrolling at ...

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Godfrey Muriuki

warrior and leader, was born in Kenya, though the date is not known. However, by 1900 he was already a prominent individual in the Gichugu area of Kirinyaga District. His prominence was attributed to several factors. He was reputed to have been an intelligent and brave warrior who led Gichugu warriors in raids against their Kikuyu, Embu, and Mbeere neighbors. Through these raids, he was able to accumulate a great deal of livestock, which was regarded as the ultimate symbol of status and wealth.

By the middle of the nineteenth century Swahili and Arab traders had begun to penetrate into the area in search of ivory and the occasional slave Invariably they would befriend prominent individuals from the relevant trading area In Gichugu and its environs Gutu became their local middleman He owed this favor to the Kamba who were renowned ivory traders in this period The ensuing trade between ...

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James Jankowski

Egyptian politician, athlete, and explorer, was born in Bulaq on 31 October 1889. He was the son of Shaykh Muhammad Hasanayn of al-Azhar and the grandson of Admiral Ahmad Pasha Mazhar Hasanayn. Hasanayn received his early education in Cairo, then at Balliol College, Oxford. A skilled fencer, in 1920 he captained the Egyptian team at the Olympic Games in Brussels. In the early 1920s, he was commissioned by King Fuʾad to explore Egypt’s Western Desert. The Lost Oases (1925) is his own account of his expedition of 1923 on which he traveled from Egypt’s Mediterranean coast through the Libyan Desert, discovering the “lost” oases of Arkenu and Ouenat, and for which he received the Founder’s Medal of Britain’s Royal Geographical Society. In the hope of establishing a long-distance flight record, in 1929 he learned to fly; plagued by malfunctioning aircraft, he eventually abandoned the effort.

Somewhat out ...