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Crown, Henry (13 June 1896–14 August 1990), entrepreneur and philanthropist, was born Henry Krinsky in Chicago, the son of Arie Krinsky, a Lithuanian immigrant garment worker, and his wife Ida Gordon. At some point they changed their name to Crown. To help his poor family, Crown took a job at age fourteen as clerk at the Chicago Firebrick Company. In 1912 he began work at the Union Drop Forge Company, while taking night courses in accounting. In 1915 he and his two older brothers, Sol and Irving, formed a small steel-brokerage company, S. A. Crown and Company, and Crown quickly established a local reputation as an aggressive and reliable deal maker with a discerning eye for opportunity, a striking power of recall, and an acute sense of timing....

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Gates, John Warne (08 May 1855–09 August 1911), businessman, was born in Turner Junction, Illinois, the son of Asel Avery Gates and Mary Warne. His parents’ occupations are unknown. Gates was educated in local public schools and at North-Western College in Naperville and received a degree from a six-month commercial course in 1873. He then worked a number of odd jobs and saved his money. In 1876 he married Dellora Baker of St. Charles, Illinois; they had one child. A few years later Gates invested in a local hardware store, where he noticed that barbed wire for fencing had attained a sudden popularity. As wire fencing, it did not demand much wood, which was scarce on the range. The wire was perfect for containing western-range cattle, and it was inexpensive enough so that farmers could purchase it in large lots for the more sizable western ranches....