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Bachelder, John (07 March 1817–01 July 1906), manufacturer and inventor, was born in Weare, New Hampshire, the son of William Bachelder, a lumberman and blacksmith, and Mary Bailey. Bachelder went to public school and to college for training as a teacher. After teaching school for three years, Bachelder left New Hampshire for Boston. There he found employment as an accountant for a Middlesex Canal transportation firm. Soon he formed a partnership that competed with his former employers. The business closed upon the completion of the Manchester railroad, which eliminated the demand for shipping on the Middlesex Canal. In 1843 Bachelder married Adaline Wason; they had three children. With the demise of his transportation enterprise, he worked in Boston’s dry-goods business until 1846. During the winter of 1846, he traveled to England in an effort to establish himself as an importer. By 1847 he had established his own firm once again in a partnership called Bachelder, Burr and Company....

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Crowell, Henry Parsons (27 January 1855–23 October 1944), businessman, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Henry Luther Crowell, a wholesale shoe merchant, and Anna Eliza Parsons. Due to ill health, Henry left school at seventeen to work in the family business. While in Cleveland he attended a ...

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Fuller, Alfred Carl (13 January 1885–04 December 1973), brush manufacturer and door-to-door marketer, was born in Welsford, Kings County, Nova Scotia, the son of Leander Joseph Fuller and Phebe Jane Collins, farmers. The eleventh of twelve children, Fuller grew up in an extended family of New England émigrés on Acadian land settled following the French and Indian War. The farm relied on oxen rather than horses, the family worshiped with the local Methodist congregation, and the children studied at the common school. As he came of age Fuller joined most of his generation in migrating to cities to find work. In January 1903 he left from the port at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, for Boston, where three brothers and two sisters already lived. A sister in Somerville provided him a room, while a brother got him a job as a streetcar conductor. He was discharged after eighteen months for derailing a car. Then failing as a groom and a teamster, Fuller sought a job with the Somerville Brush and Mop Company, a business begun by another brother who had subsequently died, and started work there on 7 January 1905 as a salesman....

Article

Hoover, Herbert William (30 October 1877–11 September 1954), industrialist, was born in New Berlin (now North Canton), Ohio, the son of William Henry Hoover, a saddle maker, and Susan Troxel. Hoover, who liked to be called “H. W.,” graduated from high school in 1895 and entered Hiram College, which he left in 1897. In 1898 he joined the his father’s successful saddlery business, W. H. Hoover Company, making saddles, harnesses, and other leather goods. In 1903, when the firm was incorporated, Hoover’s father became president and Hoover served as vice president, focusing his attention on the new line of leather products for automobiles. In 1905 he married Grace Louise Steele, the daughter of a New Berlin doctor; they had four children....

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Howe, Elias (09 July 1819–03 October 1867), inventor, was born in Spencer, Massachusetts, the son of Elias Howe and Polly Bemis, farmers. Howe’s father also owned a small gristmill and a sawmill, and from an early age young Howe worked at the mills as well as on the family farm. He was able to attend school from time to time each winter, but he was more interested in tinkering with the machinery at the mills. Poverty forced the elder Howe to hire out his son to a neighboring farmer when Elias was twelve years old, but poor health made the boy unsuitable for heavy farmwork. He returned to his family after a year and began working full time in the mills....

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Maytag, Frederick Louis (14 July 1857–26 March 1937), manufacturer, was born in Elgin, Illinois, the son of Daniel William Maytag and Amelia Tonebon, farmers. His father was then farming in Cook County, but he soon moved to another farm in Clay County and then again to Mattoon, Illinois, to open a grocery store. Frederick Maytag, then eight years old, worked as a delivery boy. In 1866 his father traded the grocery for a quarter section in Marshall County, Iowa. This he soon sold, buying a half section near Laurel, Iowa, not far from Newton. By age thirteen Frederick had learned to manage the farm and help supervise his nine siblings, as his father was by then often absent, working as a carpenter on building projects. It is thus not a surprise that Maytag estimated he received merely twenty-two months of formal schooling....

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Popeil, Samuel J. (22 January 1915–15 July 1984), inventor and manufacturer, was born in New York City, the son of a garment worker; his parents’ names are unknown. Little else is known about his childhood and early education, but Popeil’s career training came through the family. Several of his uncles worked as product demonstrators in New York department stores and flea markets, selling potato peelers, cheese slicers, and other household gadgets....

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Singer, Isaac Merritt (27 October 1811–23 July 1875), inventor and manufacturer, was born in Pittstown or in nearby Schaghticoke, New York, the son of Adam Singer, a cooper, and Ruth Benson. Singer’s father emigrated from Germany in the late 1760s and shortened the family name from Reisinger soon after his arrival in the United States. Isaac was the couple’s youngest child. In 1821 his parents divorced, and his father remarried shortly thereafter....

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Tupper, Earl Silas (28 July 1907–03 October 1983), inventor, was born in Berlin, New Hampshire, the son of farmers. Soon after his birth the family moved to a farm in Massachusetts where young Tupper enjoyed buying and selling vegetables. After graduating from high school in 1926, Tupper turned his hobby into a small mail-order business for household items such as combs and toothbrushes. During this time the self-described “ham inventor and Yankee trader” found another area in which to tinker—chemical engineering. Tupper’s self-taught skills led him to Du Pont, where he worked as an engineer during the 1930s. While at Du Pont, Tupper became fascinated by plastic, an interest that continued through the remainder of his life....

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Wampler, Cloud (07 June 1895–14 November 1973), corporation executive, was born Elrey Cloud Wampler in Hallsville, Illinois, the son of Thomas Calvin Wampler, the superintendent of schools in Hallsville, and Elizabeth Cloud, a schoolteacher. When Wampler was seven, his family moved to Clinton, Illinois, where he attended public schools and graduated from high school in 1912 at the top of his class. He won a four-year scholarship at Knox College and helped to pay for school by clerking at a shoe store on afternoons and Saturdays. In 1916 he received his B.S. degree....