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Douglas Pike and Lisabeth G. Svendsgaard

Bunker, Ellsworth (11 May 1894–27 September 1984), businessman and diplomat, was born in Yonkers, New York, the son of George R. Bunker, a founder of the National Sugar Refining Company, and Jean Polhemus Cobb. Bunker was educated in private schools in Dobbs Ferry, New York, and attended Yale University, where he majored in history and economics. After graduating in 1916, he entered the family business as a dockworker. In 1920 he married Harriet Allen Butler, with whom he was to have three children. Bunker advanced quickly in the National Sugar Refining Company and was named a director of the company in 1927. He went on to become secretary, treasurer, president, and chairman of the board, retiring in 1950. He remained a member of the board of directors until 1966....

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Copley, Ira Clifton (25 October 1864–02 November 1947), newspaper publisher, congressman, public utilities executive, and philanthropist, was born in Copley Township, Knox County, Illinois, the son of Ira Birdsall Copley and Ellen Madeline Whiting, farmers. When Copley was two he was struck with scarlet fever, which left him blind. When he was three, the family moved to Aurora, Illinois, where he received treatment for his eyes. Even with the care of an eye specialist, his complete blindness lasted five years. With the move to Aurora, his father and his mother’s brother assumed ownership of the Aurora Illinois Gas Light Company, the beginning of a large utility company that Ira would one day manage....

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George B. Cortelyou. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92421).

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Cortelyou, George Bruce (26 July 1862–23 October 1940), presidential aide, cabinet secretary, and businessman, was born in New York City, the son of Peter Crolius Cortelyou, a businessman and Rose Seary. Educated at public and private schools, he graduated from the Massachusetts State Normal School in 1882. He studied music in Boston before going back to New York to learn stenography and court reporting. He married Lilly Morris Hinds in 1888; they had five children....

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Dawes, Rufus Cutler (30 July 1867–08 January 1940), utility executive and civic leader, was born in Marietta, Ohio, the son of Rufus R. Dawes, a businessman, and Mary Beman Gates. His family background included Marietta’s founders, while his father acquired a sizable fortune in a series of business ventures that included railroad construction, contracting, and a rolling mill operation. Although the latter enterprise failed in the Panic of 1873, his father soon entered the wholesale lumber business, and young Dawes grew up amid wealth....

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Kaufmann, Edgar Jonas, Sr. (01 November 1885–14 April 1955), retailer and patron of architecture, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Morris Kaufmann, a merchant, and Betty Wolf. Kaufmann’s grandfather was a horse trader in the Rhineland town of Viernheim, Germany. Two of his uncles left Germany in 1868 for Pittsburgh, where they were first peddlers and then tailors. In 1872 the two brothers were joined by Kaufmann’s father and another uncle. In 1877 the four Kaufmann brothers opened a department store in downtown Pittsburgh, doors away from the cast-iron Mellon Bank. In 1905 Edgar Kaufmann attended the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, after which he spent two years as an apprentice at the Marshall Field store in Chicago, at Les Galeries Lafayette in Paris, and at the Karstadt store in Hamburg. He returned from Europe in 1908, and by 1913 he held or controlled a majority interest in the family store. In 1909 he married his cousin Lilianne Kaufmann; they had one child....

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Kellogg, John Harvey (26 February 1852–14 December 1943), physician, surgeon, and health reformer, was born in rural Livingston County, Michigan, the son of John Preston Kellogg and Anne Stanley, farmers. In 1852 Kellogg’s parents accepted the religious teachings that led to the organization of the Seventh-day Adventist church in 1863. This decision had a marked influence on their son’s life. By 1856 the family had resettled in Battle Creek, Michigan. Part of the proceeds from the sale of their farm was used to relocate the infant Adventist publishing plant from Rochester, New York, to Battle Creek, where Kellogg’s father now operated a small store and broom shop....

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Kirstein, Louis Edward (09 July 1867–10 December 1942), retailing executive and civic leader, was born in Rochester, New York, the son of Edward Kirstein, an eyeglass manufacturer, and Jeanette Leiter. After completing grammar school, Kirstein engaged in a number of business occupations. He managed the business affairs of minor league baseball teams in the South and later owned the American Association team in Rochester. Early in his career, he experienced a series of financial mishaps and reportedly turned down an offer from ...

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Lubin, David (10 June 1849–01 January 1919), merchant, agricultural reformer, and pioneer internationalist, was born in the Jewish settlement of Klodowa in Russian Poland, the son of Simon Lubin and Rachel Holtz. While David was still an infant, his father died of cholera. His mother soon married Solomon Weinstock, a peddler, who, following an anti-Jewish pogrom, fled with his new family to London, England, before eventually coming to the United States in 1855. Settled in New York City, Lubin attended public schools until the age of twelve, when he became an apprentice jeweler in North Attleboro, Massachusetts....

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Mein, John (1732–1810), bookseller, printer, and Loyalist publisher, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of John Mein, a burgess and guildsman of Edinburgh and a slater by trade. His mother’s name is unknown. John, Jr., was also enrolled as a burgess and guildsman in December 1760. Little is known about Mein apart from his role in supporting British policy during the revolutionary crisis. He emigrated to Boston in November 1764 and set up the first of his three shops in company with ...

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Michaux, Lewis H. (04 August 1885–25 August 1976), bookseller and black nationalist, was born in Newport News, Virginia, the son of Henry Michaux and Blanche Pollard. Some uncertainty about his birthdate exists because his death certificate from the New York Vital Records Department lists it as 23 August 1884. Before coming to New York, Michaux worked variously as a pea-picker, window-washer, and deacon in the Philadelphia church of his brother, Solomon Lightfoot Michaux. According to Edith Glover, his secretary while a deacon, Michaux started selling books in Philadelphia with an inventory of five. When he founded his bookstore in 1932 in Harlem, he still had only a few books with him, including ...

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Nelson, Donald Marr (17 November 1888–29 September 1959), business executive and government official, was born in Hannibal, Missouri, the son of Quincy Marr Nelson, a locomotive engineer, and Mary Ann MacDonald. He studied chemical engineering at the University of Missouri, graduating with a B.S. degree in 1911. Shortly thereafter he married Estelle Lord, who died in 1923. In 1926 he married Helen Wishart; they separated in 1940 and were divorced in January 1945. The following month Nelson married his secretary, Marguerite S. Coulbourn; twenty-six years old at the time, she died only two years later, in February 1947. In November 1947 Nelson married Edna May Rowell, but the marriage ended in divorce. He married Lena Peters Schunzel in February 1959. He had no children....

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Rich, Obadiah (1783–20 January 1850), diplomat and book dealer, was born in Truro, Massachusetts, the son of Obadiah Rich, a ship captain, and Salome Lombard. About 1789 his family moved to the Boston area, where Rich resided until 1816. Although the details of Rich’s schooling are not known, an acquaintance described him as “a gentleman by birth and education” and “really learned” (Henry Harrisse, ...

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Sanford, Henry Shelton (15 June 1823–21 May 1891), diplomat and businessman, was born in Woodbury, Connecticut, the son of Nehemiah Curtis Sanford, a merchant and manufacturer, and Nancy Bateman Shelton. The elder Sanford’s prosperous mercantile ventures enabled Henry to attend the Episcopal Academy in Cheshire, Connecticut, from which he graduated in 1839, and Washington College in Hartford, from which he withdrew for reasons of health during his sophomore year in 1840. Sanford spent much of the ensuing eight years traveling and studying in Europe, where he learned several languages and earned a doctor of laws degree from the University of Heidelberg in 1849....

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Straus, Jesse Isidor (25 June 1872–04 October 1936), merchant and diplomat, was born in New York City, the son of Isidor Straus, a merchant, and Ida Blun. Straus received his early education (1882–1889) from the Collegiate Institute of Dr. Julius Sachs, who influenced him to attend, and graduate from in 1893, Harvard University. Early on, Jesse developed an ascetic, frugal approach to life; in a notebook kept during college he accounted for every penny spent. Along with his fiscal exactitude ran a compulsion to work that often drove Jesse beyond his physical endurance into illness....

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Whalen, Grover Michael Aloysius Augustine (02 June 1886–20 April 1962), promoter, official greeter, and businessman, was born in New York City, the son of Michael Henry Whalen, a hauling contractor, and Esther De Nee. After graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School, Whalen attended Packard Business College. In 1904 he entered New York Law School while working part-time as a clerk in the ...

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Wendell Willkie Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103648).

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Willkie, Wendell Lewis (18 February 1892–08 October 1944), corporation lawyer and executive, politician, and civil rights activist, was born in Elwood, Indiana, the son of Herman F. Willkie and Henrietta Trisch. His father was a lawyer and local reformer, and his mother was one of the first female lawyers in Indiana. Willkie attended local schools and Indiana University, graduating in 1913. After teaching high school in Kansas (Sept. 1913–Nov. 1914), he returned to Indiana University to complete a law degree in 1916....