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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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DeWolf, James (18 March 1764–21 December 1837), slave trader, politician, and businessman, was born in Bristol, Rhode Island. His father, Mark Anthony DeWolf, emigrated from Guadeloupe Island, West Indies, after being hired as a deckhand on a slave-trading vessel owned by Simeon Potter. Once back in Bristol, Potter introduced Mark Anthony to his sister Abigail Potter. The two married shortly thereafter and had fifteen children; eight were sons of which three died at sea. The remaining five boys, including James, became involved in the transatlantic slave trade. All the DeWolf children, boys and girls, received a formal education and lived a somewhat privileged life....

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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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Napier, James Carroll (09 June 1845–21 April 1940), politician, attorney, and businessman, was born on the western outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee. His parents, William C. Napier and Jane E., were slaves at the time of his birth but were freed in 1848. After manumission and a brief residency in Ohio, William Napier moved his family to Nashville, where he established a livery stable business. James attended the black elementary and secondary schools of Nashville before entering Wilberforce University (1864–1866) and Oberlin College (1866–1868), both in Ohio....

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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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Spotswood, Alexander (1676–07 June 1740), lieutenant governor of Virginia and industrial entrepreneur, was born in northern Africa in the city of Tangier, the son of Robert Spotswood, a physician, and Catherine Elliott. The family was staunchly royalist. Alexander’s father was personal physician to the first earl of Middleton, briefly the most powerful politician in Restoration Scotland, but later exiled as governor of Tangier. The earl’s personal physician accompanied him and acted also as physician to the garrison. Alexander was first taken to England at the age of seven. His father died when he was eleven, just before the Glorious Revolution of 1688. After William III had displaced James II, Alexander did not follow the second earl of Middleton into Jacobitism and exile, but chose to make his first career in the British army created by William III to fight his wars against Louis XIV of France. He was commissioned ensign in the earl of Bath’s foot regiment on 20 May 1693. Promoted lieutenant on 1 January 1696, he continued his military career under Queen Anne, fighting in the War of the Spanish Succession under the command of the duke of Marlborough. A captain before 1704, he was wounded at the battle of Blenheim in 1704 and captured at Oudenarde in 1708 but immediately exchanged. He was primarily active in army supply, particularly grain, being lieutenant quartermaster under Lord Cadogan, rising to lieutenant colonel....