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Powell, James Robert (07 December 1814–09 December 1883), businessman and founder of Birmingham, Alabama, was born in Powellton, Brunswick County, Virginia, the son of Addison Powell and Sarah Gholson, planters. Powell was tutored at home for a few years before leaving in 1833 to work a short-lived job as an assistant teacher at Loundesboro Academy in Montgomery, Alabama. Having received a $1,000 loan from Angus McGehee, a distant relative, Powell leased the Planters’ Hotel in Montgomery, where he was able to move his family in 1834. The Powells subsequently moved to Wetumpka, where Addison Powell died in 1840....

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Stilwell, Arthur Edward (21 October 1859–26 September 1928), railroad builder and urban promoter, was born in Rochester, New York, the son of Charles Herbert Stilwell, a merchant, and Mary Augusta Pierson. At age sixteen, following his father’s failure in business, Arthur Stilwell ran away from home to become a traveling salesman. With only a few years of formal education and tutoring at home, Stilwell’s drive and ambition surmounted his lack of training as he sold advertising in railroad timetables. In 1879, while in Virginia, he met and married Jennie A. Wood, and they moved to Kansas City, where he operated briefly a printing shop. Following a short stint as an insurance salesman for Travelers Insurance Company in Chicago, he returned to Kansas City in 1886 and embarked on a career as a railroad and urban promoter....