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Agassiz, Alexander (17 December 1835–27 March 1910), marine biologist, oceanographer, and industrial entrepreneur, was born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, the son of Louis Agassiz, a zoologist, and Cécile Braun. Agassiz came to the United States in 1849, following the death of his mother in Germany. The domestic life of his parents had been marred by difficulties, and Alex moved to Massachusetts to join his father, who had become a professor of zoology and geology at Harvard University after a distinguished career in Europe. The American experience came at a difficult stage in Alex Agassiz’s adolescence. He hardly knew his father, who had spent much time away from home on scientific projects....

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Austin, Moses (04 October 1761–10 June 1821), industrialist, was born in Durham, Connecticut, the son of Elias Austin, a tailor and tavernkeeper, and Eunice Phelps. Little is known of Austin’s early life until the age of twenty-one, when he entered the dry-goods business in Middletown, Connecticut, with a brother-in-law and then moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1783 to join his brother, Stephen, in a similar enterprise. In Philadelphia, Austin met and in 1785 married Mary “Maria” Brown, with whom he had five children....

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Bankhead, John Hollis (08 July 1872–12 June 1946), lawyer, businessman and U.S. senator, was born in Moscow in Lamar County, Alabama, the son of John Hollis Bankhead (1842–1920), a farmer and later U.S. senator, and Tallulah Brockman. After spending his childhood in Wetumpka and Fayette, Alabama, he received an A.B. from the University of Alabama (1891) and an LL.B. from Georgetown University (1893). In 1894 Bankhead married Musa Harkins of Fayette, with whom he had three children. Settling in Jasper, he became a lawyer for the Alabama Power Company and for leading railroads. From 1911 to 1925 he was president of the Bankhead Coal Company, a firm founded by his father, which owned one of Alabama’s largest mines....

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Bowen, Thomas Meade (26 October 1835–30 December 1906), U.S. senator and mining entrepreneur, was born in Burlington, Iowa. His parents’ names and occupations are unknown. Bowen was educated at Mount Pleasant Academy (Mount Pleasant, Iowa) and began practicing law in 1853 at the age of eighteen. He was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1856 but served only one term before moving to Kansas, where he joined the Republican party over the issue of free soil. During the Civil War, Bowen organized and commanded the Thirteenth Kansas Infantry and was eventually brevetted a brigadier general in 1863. When the war ended, Bowen was stationed in Arkansas. He settled in Little Rock, where he married Margarette Thurston and established himself as a planter and a prominent lawyer. Whether they had children is not known....

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Don Carlos Buell. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-9979).

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Buell, Don Carlos (23 March 1818–19 November 1898), soldier and businessman, was born near Marietta, Ohio, the son of Salmon D. Buell and Eliza (maiden name unknown), farmers. After his father’s death in 1823, the boy lived mostly in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, with an uncle, George P. Buell, who got him an appointment to West Point in 1837. Graduating in the lower half of his 1841 class, Buell was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Third Infantry. He served in the Seminole War and was promoted to first lieutenant on 18 June 1846. In November 1851 he married Margaret Hunter Mason, a widow. They had no children....

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Cist, Jacob (13 March 1782–30 December 1825), anthracite coal pioneer, naturalist, and inventor, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Charles Cist, a journalist and publisher, and Mary Weiss. The eldest son of a large, prominent family, Cist proved responsible, practical, and curious from a young age. After completing elementary school in Philadelphia, he studied for three years at the Moravian Academy (Nazareth Hall) in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where he exhibited particular interests in geography, manufacture, and illustration. Cist became proficient at sketching in ink and in oils, landscapes and factories being among his prominent themes. He also showed a knack for writing, publishing short pieces of prose and verse in magazines and newspapers....

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Clark, William Andrews (08 January 1839–02 March 1925), businessman and politician, was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, the son of John Clark, a farmer and Presbyterian elder, and Mary Andrews. In 1856 Clark moved to Van Buren County, Iowa. He taught school in Iowa and briefly in Missouri. He also attended Iowa Wesleyan College for two years as a law student, although the precise years of his attendance and whether he graduated are unknown. Most likely his college years fell between 1859 and 1862....

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Daly, Marcus (05 December 1841–12 November 1900), copper magnate, was born near Ballyjamesduff, Ireland, the son of Luke Daly and Mary Coyle, poor peasant farmers. At age fifteen he emigrated to New York, where he worked at a variety of jobs before sailing in 1861 to California via the Panama route. Gaining experience in the mines of Calaveras and Grass Valley, he moved on to the Comstock Lode in Nevada, where he became a mine foreman for ...

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Greene, William Cornell (26 August 1853–05 August 1911), rancher, mineowner, and investor, was born at Duck Creek, Wisconsin, the son of Townsend Greene and Eleanor Cornell, farmers. His father died when William was very young, leaving his mother apparently little choice but to split up the family of two sons and two daughters. As a result, Greene was brought up by his great aunt in Chappaqua, New York. He apparently obtained a decent education, given the standards of that day, then moved to New York at age seventeen to begin his business career as a clerk in a tea store. In 1872 Greene moved west, apparently working in the Dakotas, then in Texas, and finally drifting to Arizona, where he became a prospector in the Bradshaw Mining District in 1877. He was then twenty-four years old, brave to a fault, given to gambling, short in temper, and modest of means....

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Guggenheim, Simon (30 December 1867–02 November 1941), business executive and philanthropist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Meyer Guggenheim, an immigrant who founded one of the country’s great fortunes by developing western mineral holdings, and Barbara Meyer. He was educated in Philadelphia public schools and at the Pierce School of Business....

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Haggin, James Ben Ali (09 December 1822–12 September 1914), mine owner, land developer, and horseman, was born in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, the son of Terah Temple Haggin, a lawyer and farmer, and Adeline Ben Ali, a schoolteacher. Haggin’s mother was said to have been the daughter of Ibrahim Ben Ali, an exiled Turkish army officer who settled in England and then moved to Philadelphia in the mid-1790s. Ben Ali’s residence in England is well attested, but there is no record that he ever lived in Philadelphia, where he supposedly settled and practiced medicine. Haggin may not have descended from a Turk, but he gloried in the name Ben Ali....

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George Hearst. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-93136 ).

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Hearst, George (03 September 1820–28 February 1891), mine owner and U.S. senator, was born in Franklin County, Missouri, the son of William G. Hearst and Elizabeth Collins, farmers. The family lived in a log cabin. Since no public schools operated in the area until Hearst was about eight years old, his childhood education was very intermittent. As a youth he visited local lead mines and became fascinated with the operations. When his father died, George took over the farming operation, which consisted of three mortgaged farms, a few slaves, and a crossroads country store. He studied mining, borrowing books from a local physician and visiting the nearby Virginia Mine. Using his savings, Hearst leased lead and copper mines and turned a profit, later pointing out that the best mining school was his practical experience in Franklin County....

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Hill, Nathaniel Peter (18 February 1832–22 May 1900), U.S. senator and mining entrepreneur, was born in Montgomery, New York, the son of Nathaniel Peter Hill, a farmer and state legislator, and Matilda Crawford. After managing the family farm in New York for several years after his father’s death, Hill graduated from Brown University in 1856 and remained with the university as a professor of chemistry. In 1860 he married Alice Hale, with whom he had three children. He supplemented his academic position by serving as a consultant and chemical analyst for numerous corporations in Rhode Island. In 1864 Hill accepted an opportunity to go west and investigate the mines of Colorado. He was employed by a group of eastern capitalists to report on the prospects of opening new mines in the San Luis Valley. While faithfully carrying out his duties for his employers, he also kept an eye open for opportunities of his own. Sufficiently impressed, he resigned from Brown, deciding that his future lay in the West....

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Mackay, John W. (28 November 1831–20 July 1902), miner and businessman, was born John William Mackay in Dublin, Ireland, the son of parents whose names and occupations are unknown. In the face of poverty, his family immigrated to the United States when Mackay was nine. He briefly attended public school, but his formal education ended when his father died. Faced with supporting his family, Mackay became apprenticed to noted New York shipbuilder ...

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Mather, Samuel (07 July 1851–19 October 1931), industrialist and philanthropist, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Georgiana Pomeroy Woolson and Samuel Livingston Mather, a financier and founder of mining companies. Mather attended public schools in Cleveland and took college-preparatory classes at St. Mark’s School in Southboro, Massachusetts. He had planned to enter Harvard University in the fall of 1869 but was badly injured in an explosion that occurred on 14 July 1869 at the Cleveland Iron and Mining Company in Ishpeming, Michigan, which his father owned and where he was working for the summer. Mather convalesced for two years—much of that time as an invalid—and then embarked on a lengthy trip through Europe. In the fall of 1873 he returned to Cleveland Iron and Mining, where over the following eight years he learned the iron-mining business. In 1881 he married Flora Amelia Stone, with whom he would have four children....

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Mills, Darius Ogden (05 September 1825–03 January 1910), banker and mining and railroad entrepreneur, was born in North Salem, Westchester County, New York, the son of James Mills, a town supervisor of North Salem (1835), and Hannah Ogden. From a prominent family, Mills was educated at the North Salem Academy and then at the Mount Pleasant Academy at Ossining, New York. His father’s death in 1841 deprived Mills of a college education. Instead he became a clerk in a mercantile establishment in New York City. In 1847, at the invitation of a cousin, he became cashier of the Merchants’ Bank of Erie County in Buffalo, New York....

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Frank W. Mondell [left to right] Gilbert M. Hitchcock, Henry Cabot Lodge, Joseph W. Fordney , Frank W. Mondell, and George B. Christian, c. 1921. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-97866).

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Mondell, Frank Wheeler (06 November 1860–06 August 1939), congressman, mine operator, and lawyer, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Ephraim Wheeler Mondell, a laborer, and Nancy Brown. Orphaned at the age of six, Frank lived for a short time with relatives in Iowa. When he was eight, he moved with an itinerant Congregational minister named Upton to Dickinson County, Iowa. Mondell did not graduate from high school and, at the age of eighteen, held various jobs in Chicago for a year, then migrated to Colorado in 1879. For the next eight years, he pursued employment in engineering and construction projects, roaming over a ten-state area. In 1887 the Kilpatrick Brothers and Collins, railroad contractors from Beatrice, Nebraska, hired Mondell to prospect for coal in northeastern Wyoming. His discovery in 1886 of a major bituminous coal deposit at Cambria altered his life. Mondell became the mine manager at Cambria. In 1889 the town of Newcastle, Wyoming, was surveyed, and Mondell became Newcastle’s first mayor, 1889–1895. Concurrently with his mayoralty, he served two terms in the Wyoming State Senate, 1890–1894; he was elected president of the senate in 1893 and declined that position in 1894....