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Allerton, Samuel Waters (26 May 1828–22 February 1914), meat packer, was born in Amenia, New York, the son of Samuel Waters Allerton, Sr., a tailor and woolen mill operator, and Hannah Hurd. The youngest of nine children, he attended school for several years but received little formal education beyond that. The family experienced financial difficulties as a result of the 1837 panic and was forced to move several times, once as far west as Dubuque, Iowa, before settling on a farm in upstate New York in 1842. Eight years later Samuel and his older brother Henry rented a farm in Yates County and began raising and trading cattle and hogs. Shortly thereafter they bought a farm in Wayne County....

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Armour, Philip Danforth (16 May 1832–06 January 1901), meat packer, was born in Stockbridge, New York, the son of Danforth Armour and Juliana Brooks, farmers. One of eight children, five of whom became involved in packing and grain dealing, he was educated at the Cazenovia Academy. In 1852 Armour left the farm to mine gold in California and returned in 1856 several thousand dollars richer. Not long after, he went to Milwaukee, where he started a soap factory that burned to the ground. By this time, one of his brothers, Herman Ossian, had already started H. O. Armour & Company, dealing in grain and provisions. After a couple of years of hide sales in St. Paul, Armour himself went into the provision business with Frederick B. Miles in Milwaukee in 1859. He married Malvina Belle Ogden of Cincinnati in 1862; they had three sons, two of whom worked in the family business....

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Cudahy, Edward Aloysius, Jr. (22 August 1885–08 January 1966), meat packer, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Edward Aloysius Cudahy, a meatpacking plant supervisor, and Elizabeth Murphy. In 1887 his father, his uncle Michael Cudahy, and Philip D. Armour purchased from Sir Thomas J. Lipton a new, small packing plant in South Omaha, Nebraska, with a capacity of a thousand hogs a day. Edward, Sr., moved with his family to South Omaha to manage the plant. Thus, Edward, Jr., grew up in Omaha, where he attended public schools. Meanwhile, his father and uncle Michael bought out Armour in 1890, renamed the company Cudahy Packing Company, and built it into one of the four major packing houses, ranking with Swift, Armour, and Morris....

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Cudahy, Michael (07 December 1841–27 November 1910), meat packer and businessman, was born in Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland, the son of Patrick Cudahy and Elizabeth Shaw. He immigrated with his parents to Milwaukee in 1849, where his father worked at various occupations in brickyards and in the produce business. Leaving grammar school at age fourteen, Michael went to work for Layton and Plankinton, Milwaukee’s largest meat-packing concern, and rose rapidly through the employee ranks. Between 1859 and 1866 he was employed by the meat-packing firm of Edward Roddis. In 1866 Cudahy temporarily went into business for himself and married Catherine Sullivan; they had seven children....

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Hammond, George Henry (05 May 1838–29 December 1886), meatpacker, was born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, the son of John Hammond, a carpenter and joiner, and Sarah Huston. He attended common schools but left at age ten to work, making leather pocketbooks for a Mr. Barrett in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. When Barrett became ill, he carried on the business, employing twelve girls. But steel-clasp pocketbooks soon undercut demand, so he worked briefly for a butcher, then for three years in Milton Frost’s mattress and palm-leaf hat factory in Fitchburg. When Frost moved west, Hammond, aged fifteen, bought the business. But Frost then urged him to come west, so Hammond sold out after six months, moving to Detroit, Michigan, in 1854. He again worked briefly for a butcher, then went to work for Frost, manufacturing mattresses and furniture....

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Hormel, George Albert (04 December 1860–05 June 1946), businessman, was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of John Godfrey Hormel, a tanner, and Susanna Decker. His parents were German immigrants. The third of twelve children in a family of modest means, Hormel sought work upon completing the sixth grade. He held several menial jobs before he left home at the age of seventeen for Chicago, where he found employment first in his uncle Jacob Decker’s meat market and then at the ...

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Hormel, Jay Catherwood (11 September 1892–30 August 1954), meatpacking executive, was born in Austin, Minnesota, the son of George Albert Hormel, the owner of the meatpacking firm Hormel & Co., and Lillian Belle Gleason. He attended Austin public schools and the Shattuck Military School for Boys in Faribault, Minnesota. He first began working at age ten, assisting his uncle Herman Hormel in the Hormel Provision Market. On 29 March 1907 he went to work in the Hormel packing house, learning about by-products in the lard room. When he went to Princeton University in 1911, he opened his own business, a laundry. An indifferent student, he left after three years, in 1914, to work full time at Hormel & Co. He became a director on 17 November 1914 and worked in the plant first as a foreman, then as a superintendent. In 1916 he was appointed a first vice president....

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Hubbard, Gurdon Saltonstall (22 August 1802–14 September 1886), fur trader and pioneer Chicago businessman, was born in Windsor, Vermont, the son of Elizur Hubbard, a lawyer and businessman, and Abigail Sage. Young Hubbard attended the local common school. In 1816 his father moved the family to Montreal, Quebec. Both father and son eventually went to work for the American Fur Company (AFC), the father drawing up contracts for ...

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Hussey, Curtis Grubb (11 August 1802–25 April 1893), copper and steel manufacturer, was born near York, Pennsylvania, the son of Christopher Hussey and Lydia Grubb, farmers of Quaker ancestry. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Little Miami, Ohio. Hussey spent his early years on the family farm, attending school sporadically. In 1813 the family moved again, this time to a farm near Mount Pleasant, Ohio....

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Mayer, Oscar Gottfried (10 March 1888–05 March 1965), meat packer, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Bavarian immigrants Oscar Ferdinand Mayer, also a and Louise Christine Greiner. The local meat market and sausage factory that his father and two uncles operated in Chicago would become Oscar Mayer and Company, and it was at the meat market that Mayer began to learn the business at an early age. At six, though he had to stand on an upturned tub to reach the counter, he learned to link sausages. After graduating from Robert Waller High School in Chicago in 1905, he entered Harvard, where he wrote for the ...

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Morris, Nelson (21 January 1838–28 August 1907), cattle trader, breeder, and meatpacker, was born in Hechingen, Germany, a province of Hohensollern; his parents’ names are unknown. His father had raised cattle in the Black Forest but, implicated in a plot to unite the area with Switzerland, fled to America. Morris thus arrived with his family in 1851 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, utterly poor, without formal education, and speaking no English. He had already worked in Germany selling rags, skins, and copper for his father; in America he took whatever odd jobs he could find and peddled for two years. In 1853 he headed north, working as a charcoal hauler in Lakerville, Connecticut; he then traveled west, working on boats on the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes. When he arrived in Chicago, he took a job cleaning animal pens at John B. Sherman’s Bull’s Head Yard (Sherman later founded and promoted the Union Stock Yards). In winter he would work all night, watching hogs to ensure against their crowding together and suffocating. By the time Sherman moved his operations to his Lake Shore Yards, Morris was the feedmaster....

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Parks, Henry Green, Jr. (29 September 1916–24 April 1989), business executive, entrepreneur, and civic leader, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Henry Green Parks, Sr. His mother’s name is unknown, but both of his parents are known to have worked as domestic laborers. Seeking a better life, the family moved to Dayton, Ohio, when Parks was six months old. There Parks’s father found work as a hotel bartender and later as a wine steward in a private club. Because both of Parks’s parents worked long hours, the family did not spend a lot of time together. Henry spent most of his time with his paternal grandmother, whom he described as “very religious.” The example that his father set for him was one of diligence, perseverance, risk-taking, and making hard choices. All of these attributes were evident in Parks’s life....

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Swift, Gustavus Franklin (24 June 1839–29 March 1903), meat packer, was born on a farm near Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the son of William Swift and Sally Crowell, farmers. An indifferent student, young Gustavus worked at a variety of odd jobs during the eight years he attended the nearby country school. By the age of fourteen, he had become a full-time employee in the butcher shop owned by his older brother, Noble. Borrowing money from his father and his maternal grandfather in 1855, he opened his own business, purchasing livestock at the Brighton Market and driving them to Eastham for sale, a journey that consumed ten days. In 1861 Swift married Annie Maria Higgins of North Eastham; they had eleven children, nine of whom survived to adulthood....

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Wilson, Samuel (13 September 1766–31 July 1854), meat packer and inspiration for Uncle Sam, was born in Menotomy (now Arlington), Massachusetts, the seventh of thirteen children of Edward Wilson and Lucy Francis Wilson, farmers. Wilson grew up in Menotomy and on a farm near Mason, New Hampshire, where the family moved when he was fourteen years old. In February 1789 the twenty-two-year old Samuel Wilson and his older brother Ebenezer Wilson left home to seek their fortunes in Troy, New York, seven miles north of Albany. Within a year they were operating a successful brickyard, and four years later the brothers established a meatpacking operation as E. and S. Wilson, which became their primary business. In January 1797 Samuel Wilson married Betsey Mann, whom he had known for nearly a decade. They had four children, but only two survived....