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Addicks, John Edward O’Sullivan (21 November 1841–07 August 1919), promoter and aspiring politician, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Edward Addicks, a politician and civil servant, and Margaretta McLeod. Addicks’s father achieved local political prominence and arranged for his son to take a job at age fifteen as a runner for a local dry goods business. Four years later Addicks took a job with a flour company and, upon reaching his twenty-first birthday, became a full partner in the business. Like many Quaker City merchants, Addicks speculated in local real estate in the booming port town, avoided service in the Civil War, and achieved a modicum of prosperity in the postwar period. He became overextended, as he would be most of his career, however, and went broke in the 1873 depression....

Article

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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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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Rogers, Henry Huttleston (29 January 1840–19 May 1909), oil tycoon, railroad builder, and capitalist, was born at Fairhaven, Massachusetts, the son of Rowland Rogers, a bookkeeper, and Mary Eldredge Huttleston. A high school graduate, Rogers worked in his hometown five years before leaving in 1861 for Pennsylvania, where oil had been discovered in 1859. Beginning with a $1,200 investment in a small refinery erected at McClintockville, Pennsylvania, Rogers and a partner, Charles Ellis, made $30,000 their first year. In 1866 Rogers met ...

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Smith, Francis Marion (02 February 1846–27 August 1931), mining and railroad entrepreneur, was born in Richmond, Wisconsin, the son of Henry Grovier Smith and Charlotte Paul, farmers. After completing grade school in Richmond, Smith attended high school in nearby Milton and Allen’s Grove. He worked on the farm until he reached the age of twenty-one, when he succumbed to the lure of the West. In 1867 he traveled to Montana Territory, where he tried prospecting and both placer and hard-rock mining. Unimpressed with the return, he resumed his travels, working at various jobs until he reached western Nevada, where he became a restaurateur. After a few months he decided that prospecting was more interesting, and for the next five years he followed various mineral rushes in the region....

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Thompson, William Boyce (13 May 1869–27 June 1930), mining entrepreneur and Wall Street financier, was born near Virginia City, Idaho Territory, the son of William Thompson, a carpenter, lumberman, and miner, and Anne Boyce. In 1879 the family moved to Butte; two years later the discovery of rich copper deposits made it a boom town. Thompson matured in this frenzied environment; by age fifteen he was a skilled gambler in local bars. He attended public school, with little result, until an Oxford-trained classicist, stranded by his employer and pressed into opening Butte’s first high school, recognized Thompson’s mathematical talent. Soon Thompson headed east to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. Arriving on 1 January 1887, Thompson focused on science and engineering; in three years, he had enough courses to be admitted to Columbia University’s School of Mines. Foregoing his final year at Exeter, he entered Columbia in fall 1889....