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Fitler, Edwin Henry (02 December 1825–31 May 1896), cordage manufacturer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Fitler, a successful tanner and leather merchant, and Elizabeth Wonderly. His father provided very well for his family, including giving his son a fine academic education. Fitler planned to make law his profession and thus arranged to enter the office of Charles E. Lex. He studied with Lex four years but found he had no sustaining interest in the law; he was deeply interested in mechanics and engineering. However, he evidently learned enough about law that in his distinguished business career of more than forty-five years he was never involved in litigation. To pursue his true passion, in 1846, at age twenty-one, Fitler went to work for his brother-in-law, George J. Weaver, who managed a well-established cordage firm (Weaver’s father had founded the firm in 1816). The firm already had two factories, one for manila and tarred ropes, the other for fine yarns and jute, with a combined annual capacity of 4.5 million pounds. This offered Fitler ample opportunity to engage his interests....

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Hunt, John Wesley ( August 1773–21 August 1849), pioneer merchant, manufacturer, and financier, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Abraham Hunt, a merchant, and Theodosia Pearson. Growing up with seven siblings, John probably attended a private school. At a young age he began training in business in his father’s general store in the same two-story building as their home in Trenton. His father also taught him about breeding racehorses and about flour milling....