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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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Dunwoody, William Hood (14 March 1841–08 February 1914), milling industry executive and financier, was born in Westtown, Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of James Dunwoody and Hannah Hood, farmers. He attended local country schools until the age of fourteen and then attended an academy in Philadelphia for four years. Upon completing the prescribed course, Dunwoody remained in Philadelphia and joined his uncle’s grain and feed business. He remained with Ezekiel Dunwoody for the next five years, after which he began his own flour merchandising business. While serving as the senior partner in the new firm of Dunwoody & Robertson, he married Katie L. Patten of Philadelphia in 1868; they had no children....

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Armand Hammer Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114806 ).

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Hammer, Armand (21 May 1898–10 December 1990), entrepreneur and philanthropist, was born on the Lower East Side of New York City, the son of Russian-born Julius Hammer, a pharmacist and physician, and Rose Robinson. Hammer’s childhood economic circumstances were better than those of many of his immigrant contemporaries. When he was still a child, his family moved to the Bronx, where his father balanced a quest for a medical degree with the demands of his drugstores. Hammer attended Morris High School and in 1917 registered at Columbia Heights Premedical School. Two years later he enrolled at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, from which he graduated in June 1921....

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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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Spreckels, Claus (09 July 1828–26 December 1908), manufacturer and capitalist, was born in Lamstedt, Hanover (in present-day Germany), the son of Diedrich Spreckels, and Gesche Baack, farmers. Growing up in relative poverty, he received a meager formal education and often worked for neighboring farmers for little more than bread and board. When revolutionary fervor swept the Germanic states during the 1840s, Spreckels decided to emigrate. After borrowing sufficient funds for steerage passage from a friend, he sailed from Bremen in 1846 and landed in Charleston, South Carolina, with little money and no firm prospects. He soon obtained work in a grocery store and within a few weeks had saved enough to pay off his debt. By working hard and accumulating savings, he was able to purchase the business upon the owner’s retirement, paying off all his debts within a year....