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Calhoun, Patrick (21 March 1856–16 June 1943), railroad attorney and streetcar syndicator, was born on the family plantation, “Fort Hill,” near Pendleton, South Carolina, the son of Andrew Pickens Calhoun, a prosperous antebellum plantation owner who was later ruined by the war, and Margaret Maria Green. He was a grandson of U.S. vice president ...

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Holladay, Ben (14 October 1819–08 July 1887), transportation magnate, was born in Nicholas County, Kentucky, the son of William Holladay and Margaret Hughes, farmers. At age seventeen, with little education or experience beyond that gained as the son of poor farmers on the Kentucky frontier, Holladay left home, sensing opportunity lying to the west. He moved to Weston, on the Missouri-Kansas border, where he began working as a courier for militia fighting against the Mormons in the town of Far West, Missouri. In this role of ferrying messages back and forth between the Mormons and the militia, Holladay was able to gain the Mormons’ trust. After this experience, in 1838 Holladay decided to settle in Weston and made a series of entrepreneurial investments, first as a saloonkeeper and then as a druggist and dry-goods merchant. Eventually he opened a hotel and was appointed local postmaster. With his profits, he purchased his first set of freight wagons, fitting them with the extra-wide tires that would become his trademark. In 1840 Holladay met and married Notley Ann Calvert, daughter of a well-to-do Weston family; they had seven children, one of whom died in infancy....

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Johnson, Tom Loftin (18 July 1854–10 April 1911), street railway magnate and municipal reformer, was born near Georgetown, Kentucky, the son of Albert William Johnson and Helen Loftin. His father was a slaveholding planter who served as a colonel in the Confederate army. Impoverished by the Civil War, in 1868 the family settled outside of Louisville, Kentucky, near supportive friends and relatives. Before Tom was fifteen he secured an office job with a Louisville street railway company that had recently been purchased by close family friends Alfred V. and A. B. du Pont. This was the beginning of Johnson’s long business relationship with members of the wealthy family of explosive manufacturers. In 1873 Tom Johnson became superintendent of the streetcar company after having already patented the first coin fare box for streetcars. During his lifetime, the inventive Johnson was to obtain thirty-one patents....

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Lowry, Thomas (27 February 1843–04 February 1909), businessman, was born in Logan County, Illinois, the son of Sam R. Lowry and Rachel Bullock, farmers. He grew up near Pleasant View in Schuyler County, Illinois, and attended Lombard University in Galesburg. He left Lombard after two years, suspected of having tuberculosis, traveled to regain his health and visited Minneapolis. Upon returning home he studied law at the offices of Judge John C. Bagby in nearby Rushville. Lowry was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1867, and that year he moved to Minneapolis to establish a law practice....

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Yerkes, Charles Tyson (25 June 1837–29 December 1905), investment banker and traction entrepreneur, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Charles Tyson Yerkes, a bank president, and Elizabeth Link Broom. Yerkes, of Quaker descent, graduated from Philadelphia Central High School and began his career as a clerk in a commission broking house, James P. Perot Brothers. In 1859 Yerkes married Susanna Gutteridge Gamble; they had six children. In 1862 Yerkes started his own investment bank. He specialized in high-risk deals, and in 1866 he gained a reputation as a financial wizard by selling a new issue of Philadelphia Municipal Bonds at par while the city’s other debt was selling at 65 percent of issued value. In 1871 the Chicago Fire caused panic on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. Yerkes was overcommitted and unable to pay to the city monies he had been paid for municipal bonds. He was indicted for embezzlement, tried, convicted, and received a jail sentence of two years and nine months, of which he served seven months before obtaining a pardon....