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Lopez, Aaron (1731–28 May 1782), merchant, was born Duarte Lopez in Lisbon, Portugal, the son of Diego Lopez (mother’s name unknown). Nothing is known of his childhood or education. He abandoned his Christian name Duarte, his parents, and his native land of Portugal when he left Lisbon in 1752 with his wife, Anna, setting sail for the British colony of Rhode Island. He followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Moses (born José), who had fled religious persecution in the 1730s, going first to New York, and then by 1749 to the seaport town of Newport, Rhode Island, a city known for its religious tolerance. By the time Aaron (as he now called himself) arrived in America, Moses had already established himself as a merchant in the thriving commercial entrepôt. When Aaron Lopez arrived in Newport, he was welcomed by the small Jewish community there, gained easy access to credit, and quickly began to develop a business that would make him Newport’s “merchant prince” by 1770....


Manigault, Gabriel (21 April 1704–05 June 1781), merchant and planter, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Pierre Manigault and Judith Giton. Manigault’s father, an immigrant Huguenot, had engaged in farming in the Georgetown area before moving to Charleston. There, after several years as a cooper and victualer, he turned to distilling brandy and rum and then to merchandising, laying the foundation before his death in 1729 of what was to become, under Gabriel Manigault, the largest fortune in South Carolina (and quite possibly in America) before the Revolution. Manigault (without formal college training) became a wealthy merchant, operating in a number of markets, especially the West Indies and the northern mainland colonies. He exported in his own fleet of ships regional items such as rice, naval stores, lumber, shingles, leather, deerskins, corn, beef, peas, and pork and imported such commodities as rum, sugar, wine, oil, textiles, and wheat flour. He was also a private banker, lending vast sums from his great personal resources....


Gustave Niebaum. Courtesy of the Wine Institute Historical Photo Archives.


Niebaum, Gustave Ferdinand (30 August 1842–05 August 1908), fur trader and wine maker, was born Gustav or Gustave Nybom in Helsingfors (now Helsinki), the son of a police official of Swedish and Baltic-German stock; his parents' names do not appear in currently accessible records. Finland at the time was a semiautonomous grand duchy of Russia. Niebaum became a sailor, but not just an ordinary seaman. Intelligent and a graduate of a gymnasium, Europe's equivalent of an American high school, he enrolled in Helsinki's Nautical Institute. Graduating at nineteen, he soon secured his master's papers and was in command of his own ship by 1864, in the service of the Russian American Company, sailing to Alaska....