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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....

Article

Higgins, Andrew Jackson (28 August 1886–01 August 1952), industrialist and shipbuilder, was born in Columbus, Nebraska, the son of John Gonegal Higgins and Annie Long O’Conor. His father, a judge and newspaper editor, was a close friend of Grover Cleveland. Intense loyalty to the Democratic party inspired Judge Higgins to name his son after the seventh president. Andrew Jackson Higgins attended public schools in Columbus and Omaha and then Creighton Preparatory School from 1900 to 1903....

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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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Myers, Isaac (13 January 1835–26 January 1891), labor leader, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of free African-American parents, whose names and occupations are unknown. Myers was barred from public education, but he did attend a private day school run by a local clergyman. Leaving school at sixteen, he served an apprenticeship with a leading black ship caulker and then entered the trade himself, becoming by the age of twenty a supervisor, responsible for caulking some of Baltimore’s largest clipper ships. During this period he married Emma V.; neither the precise year nor her full maiden name is known. They had three children, the first born in 1859....

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Plant, Henry Bradley (27 October 1819–23 June 1899), transportation executive, was born in Branford, Connecticut, the son of Anderson Plant and Betsey Bradley, farmers. His father died of typhus when Plant was only six years old, and upon his mother’s remarriage to Philemon Hoadley several years later the family relocated to Martinsburg, New York. Plant later returned to his native state and settled in New Haven, where he finished his education at a private academy. Although Plant’s grandmother offered to pay his way through Yale (hoping that he would enter the ministry), he declined the offer in favor of entering the world of work....