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Barnes, Julius Howland (02 February 1873–17 April 1959), industrialist and government official, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the son of Lucien Jerome Barnes, a banker, and Julia Hill. Moving with his family, he attended public schools in Washington, D.C., and Duluth, Minnesota. Following his father’s death in 1886, Barnes left school to take a job as office boy with the Duluth grain brokerage firm of Wardell Ames. There he rose rapidly, becoming president of the company in 1910 and subsequently reorganizing it as the Barnes-Ames Company. By 1915 Barnes-Ames was the world’s largest grain exporter, and Barnes acquired other business interests, principally in shipbuilding and Great Lakes shipping. In 1896 he married Harriet Carey, with whom he had two children....

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Julius H. Barnes. Right, with Thomas Lamont, left, and Silas Strawn. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92371).

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Collins, Edward Knight (05 August 1802–22 January 1878), merchant and shipping operator, was born in Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the son of Israel Gross Collins, a sea captain, merchant trader, and ship owner, and Mary Ann Knight, an Englishwoman who died soon after Edward’s birth. After his mother’s death, his father moved to New York City, leaving Edward to be raised by the Collins family. Edward’s uncle (and later business associate), John Collins, was an important influence....

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Edward Knight Collins. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109875).

Article

Fink, Mike (1770–1823), scout, keelboatman, and trapper, was born at Fort Pitt, part of present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His ancestry was probably Scotch-Irish and Pennsylvania German. It is hard to separate fact from fiction concerning Mike Fink. Early in his life he was an expert marksman with his Kentucky rifle. While still a teenager, he was probably a hunter who sold meat to Pittsburgh butchers and was surely a scout who gathered information for the settlements about Indian activities beyond the western frontier. The battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, followed by the Treaty of Greenville a year later, guaranteed the security of the Northwest frontier and established a boundary in the Northwest Territory between Indian lands and areas open to further white settlement. So Fink moved into his second career, that of a keelboatman....

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Marshall, Benjamin (1782–02 December 1858), merchant and textile manufacturer, was born to a manufacturing family in West Riding, Yorkshire, England. At age sixteen he entered the cotton trade in Manchester. Seeking wider opportunity, in 1803 he sailed for America with his brother Joseph, arriving in New York in August. They brought a consignment of Lancashire cotton textiles with which to start an importing partnership; they soon opened a store at 10 Beekman Street. To pay for the imports the Marshalls began exporting raw cotton to the Lancashire mills, initially buying from New York middlemen. Benjamin soon recognized that they could simply buy directly at the source, in the South. Thus, Marshall started going south, principally to Georgia, for extended periods each winter, arranging purchases of cotton, pioneering a practice that later became standard among New York cotton exporters. Marshall also established an agent in New Orleans and bought several ships to engage in the southern coastal trade....

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Merry, William Lawrence (27 December 1842–11 December 1911), sea captain, merchant, and diplomat, was born in New York City, the son of Thomas Henry Merry, a merchant and sea captain, and Candida Isbina Xavier, apparently Brazilian. Merry attended the Collegiate Institute in New York City during the 1850s. He became a junior officer on the ...

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Thompson, Jeremiah (09 December 1784–10 November 1835), cotton merchant and shipowner, was born in Rawdon, Yorkshire, England, the son of William Thompson, a manufacturer of woolen cloth; his mother’s name is unknown. In 1798 Thompson’s paternal uncle Francis came to New York City to represent the family business; in 1801, Thompson joined him....

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Watson, Elkanah (22 January 1758–05 December 1842), merchant and promoter, was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the son of Elkanah Watson, Sr., a cooper and civic leader, and Patience Marston. He attended Plymouth’s common school until 1773, when he began an apprenticeship with merchant ...

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Yeatman, Thomas (25 December 1787–12 June 1833), merchant and banker, was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, the son of John Yeatman, a ship and boat builder on the Potomac and Monongahela rivers, and Lucy Patty. Very little is known of Yeatman’s early life. He arrived in Nashville about 1807 and probably soon became a river trader. W. W. Clayton, in ...