Miles Rock was born October 10, 1840, the son of a tailor in Ephrata, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Rock was one of ten siblings, and when his father died in 1845, he was taken in by a Mennonite farmer named David Shirk. At age fourteen, he went to work in a Lancaster bookstore where his curiosity about nature and science could be ardently pursued. Lyell’s Principles of Geology, for example, became an early influence on the developing interests of young Miles Rock. In 1858, having graduated from high school in Lancaster, he enrolled at Franklin & Marshall College and supported himself by teaching. He was enrolled at Franklin & Marshall in 1861 when the American Civil War broke out, and he left his studies to enlist in the Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps.
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