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Alger, Russell Alexander (27 February 1836–24 January 1907), businessman and politician, was born in Lafayette Township, Medina County, Ohio, the son of Russell Alger and Caroline Moulton, farmers. Orphaned at eleven years of age, he worked as a laborer and taught school before reading law in Akron, Ohio, where he was admitted to the bar in 1859. Moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan, he involved himself in the lumber industry. In 1861 he married Annette Henry; they had nine children....

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Joseph W. Fordney [left to right] Gilbert M. Hitchcock, Henry Cabot Lodge, Joseph W. Fordney , Frank W. Mondell, and George B. Christian, c. 1921. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-97866).

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Fordney, Joseph Warren (05 November 1853–08 January 1932), lumberman and congressman, was born on a farm near Hartford City, in Blackford County, Indiana, the son of John Fordney, a farmer and mill owner, and Achsah Cotton. The youngest of ten children, Joseph Warren Fordney spent his childhood caring for his chronically ill mother and felling trees for his father’s sawmill. At age thirteen he hired out as a farmhand, receiving ninety dollars a year and three months of schooling in return for his labor. Although Fordney had an affinity for mathematics, his formal education ended after a single summer. In 1867 he left the farm to serve as the water boy on a railroad construction crew....

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Long, George S. (03 December 1853–02 August 1930), lumberman and business executive, was born in Claremont (near Indianapolis), Indiana, the son of Isaac Long, a merchant, and Sarah V. Smith. He attended local public schools before his father purchased a small lumbermill and relocated the family to Tipton County in northern Indiana about 1863. After gaining experience at the mill for about a year and a half, George Long and his family were sent back to Indianapolis by his father on account of an outbreak of malaria. There Long completed two years of high school and also continued to work for his father, who had remained in northern Indiana, as a local sales agent. His father, after working in the northern part of the state for an additional three years or so, relocated his mill to Indianapolis. Around 1872 his father’s business collapsed, and Long was forced to leave high school. He then worked at a local real estate firm and enjoyed the fruits of a wartime boom period until the market collapsed in 1876. With the resulting real estate bust, Long lost both his job and his desire to remain in that line of work....

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Sage, Henry Williams (31 January 1814–18 September 1897), merchant, lumberman, and college benefactor, was born in Middletown, Connecticut, the son of Charles Sage, a merchant, and Sally Williams. When he was two years old Sage’s family moved to Bristol, Connecticut, where he attended the local academy. In 1827, following the lead of several relatives, his father moved the family again, this time to Ithaca, New York, where he struggled to establish himself in the dry-goods business. Eager to rise above the poverty into which the family was slipping, young Sage sought a professional career. In June 1830 he began the study of medicine with Austin Church in Ithaca. Forced to abandon his studies after a few months because of poor eyesight, in 1832 he entered into business with his maternal uncles as a clerk with the firm of Williams & Brothers. Sage remained with his uncles for five years, becoming experienced in every aspect of their shipping business....

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Sawyer, Philetus (22 September 1816–29 March 1900), lumber merchant and U.S. senator, was born in Whiting, Vermont, the son of Ephraim Sawyer, a farmer and blacksmith, and Mary Parks. When Philetus was an infant, his family migrated across Lake Champlain to Crown Point, New York. The fifth of ten children in a struggling family, Sawyer acquired such cursory schooling that political opponents later gibed him unmercifully for his awkward writing and speaking. As a teenager, he worked in a Crown Point sawmill, which he then rented and operated on his own before he turned twenty-one. In 1841 Sawyer married Melvina Hadley, a neighbor. Three of the couple’s five children survived to adulthood....

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Washburn, William Drew (14 January 1831–29 July 1912), U.S. congressman and businessman, was born in Androscoggin County, Maine, the son of Israel Washburn and Martha Benjamin, farmers. He worked on the family farm and attended public schools in Gorham, Paris, and Farmington before entering Bowdoin College at age nineteen. After graduation in 1854, he read law with his brother ...

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Weyerhaeuser, Frederick (21 November 1843–04 April 1914), lumberman and capitalist, was born in Niedersaulheim, Hessen, Germany, the son of John Weyerhaeuser and Katherine Gabel, prosperous farmers. He completed his education at a local Lutheran parochial school by age fourteen. His father died in 1846, forcing Weyerhaeuser to work on his family’s farm to help support his siblings and widowed mother. Weyerhaeuser came to the United States in 1852 at the age of eighteen. He had decided to leave Germany in order to escape that country’s strict military requirements. Accompanied by his mother and sister, Weyerhaeuser settled in Erie County in northeastern Pennsylvania, where he first worked in a brewery, then for a local farmer. He remained in Pennsylvania until 1856, at which time he moved to Coal Valley, Illinois, becoming involved in the lumber, grain, and coal businesses. He married Elizabeth Sarah Bloedel, also from Niedersaulheim, in 1857; the couple has seven children....

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Weyerhaeuser, Frederick Edward (04 November 1872–18 October 1945), business executive with the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company and its affiliates, was born in Rock Island, Illinois, the son of Frederick Weyerhaeuser and Elizabeth Sarah Bloedel. His father was the founder of the most prominent forest products company in the United States. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale University in 1896, F. E. (as he is identified in family biographies) immediately joined his older brother Rudolph with the Northern Lumber Company, a Weyerhaeuser-controlled firm that soon came to dominate lumbering activity in the countryside around Duluth, Minnesota. With a talent for efficient management and coordinated business effort that gained the attention of the Weyerhaeuser associates, the younger Frederick began his career purchasing timber stumpage for Northern Lumber and two other Weyerhaeuser mills in the vicinity....

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Weyerhaeuser, Phil (18 January 1899–08 December 1956), lumberman and corporation executive, was born John Philip Weyerhaeuser, Jr., in Rock Island, Illinois, the son of John Philip Weyerhaeuser, the president of the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company (WTC) from 1914 to 1928, and Nellie Anderson, a schoolteacher. His grandfather was ...