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Allen, Philip (01 September 1785–16 December 1865), manufacturer, governor, and senator, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Captain Zachariah Allen, a West Indies trader, and Nancy Crawford. Allen received his early education from tutors before attending Taunton Academy in Providence, Robert Rogers School in Newport, and Jeremiah Chaplin’s Latin School in Providence. In 1799 he entered Rhode Island College (now Brown University) and graduated in 1803....

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Allen, Zachariah (15 September 1795–17 March 1882), textile manufacturer, engineer, and inventor, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Zachariah Allen, a merchant, and Ann Crawford. Allen graduated from Brown University in 1813, receiving a certificate in proficiency from the newly established medical school in addition to his college degree. Although the War of 1812 frustrated his original plan to continue medical study abroad, Allen maintained a lifelong interest in science that expressed itself in practical and theoretical research and writing, principally in mechanics and the physical sciences. He joined the Rhode Island bar in 1815 after studying with James Burrill, Jr., but his career as a lawyer was brief. In 1817 he married Eliza Harriet Arnold; they had three children. Serving on the Providence town council from 1820 to 1823, Allen modernized the town’s fire-fighting system and was an effective proponent of public education, two causes that he continued to espouse throughout his life....

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Atkinson, Edward (10 February 1827–11 December 1905), businessman and reformer, was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, the son of Amos Atkinson II, a merchant, and Anna Greenleaf Sawyer. He was educated in private schools in both Brookline and Boston, but the family’s financial distress prevented him from attending Harvard as planned and propelled him instead at age fifteen into the world of business. After rising to the accounting department of a Boston dry goods firm, Atkinson in 1851 was appointed treasurer and agent of the textile company Ogden Mills....

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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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W. Warren Barbour. Courtesy of Congessional Biography.

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Barbour, W. Warren (31 July 1888–22 November 1943), businessman and U.S. senator from New Jersey, was born William Warren Barbour in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey, the son of Colonel William Barbour, president of The Linen Thread Company, and Julia Adelaide Sprague. Barbour was educated at the Browning School in New York City. Though admitted to Princeton in 1906, he instead entered the family's thread business. In 1908 Barbour enlisted in Squadron A of the New York National Guard....

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Bean, L. L. (13 October 1872–05 February 1967), retail merchant, was born Leon Leonwood Bean in Greenwood, Maine, the son of Benjamin Warren Bean and Sarah Swett, farmers. Orphaned at age twelve, he lived with his brother and four sisters in South Paris, Maine, and briefly attended Kent Hill Academy and Hebron Academy. Lennie Bean worked in his brother’s retail store in Freeport and in an Auburn clothing store from 1892 to 1907. In 1898 Bean married Bertha Porter, and they had two sons and a daughter. After his wife died in 1939, he married Claire L. Boudreau in 1940. Achieving little success in various business ventures, from selling soap to working in a creamery, in 1907 Bean moved to his wife’s hometown, Freeport, Maine, to take over his brother Ervin’s retail store....

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Charles W. Carey Jr.

Blake, Lyman Reed (24 August 1835–05 October 1883), inventor, was born in South Abington, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Blake and Susannah Bates. In 1851, having completed his formal education at age sixteen, he went to work for his older brother Samuel, a “shoe boss.” After the employees in his brother’s shop cut out from leather the various pieces that comprise a shoe, the younger Blake put out these pieces to self-employed shoebinders—who hand-stitched together the uppers and then pegged or nailed the uppers to a sole—and collected the finished pairs, which his brother then sold....

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Boit, Elizabeth Eaton (09 July 1849–14 November 1932), textile manufacturer, was born in Newton, Massachusetts, the daughter of James Henry Boit a janitor and sexton, and Amanda Church Berry. Boit attended Newton public schools and completed two years at Lasell Seminary in Auburndale, Massachusetts. At eighteen she was hired as a timekeeper in the finishing department at Dudley Hosiery Knitting Mill in Newton. She was rewarded for her leadership skills by promotion to assistant forewoman of the finishing department and by 1872 to forewoman. In 1883 the agent of the mill, H. B. Scudder, hired Boit to superintend the manufacturing of children’s scarlet-wool goods and hosiery at his newly established Allston Mills, a position that was normally held by a man....

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Brown, Lydia ( July 1780–19 November 1865), missionary to Hawaii and pioneer of textile production on the islands, was born in Wilton, New Hampshire. Nothing about her life is known before she became a member of the seventh company of missionaries sent to Hawaii by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), arriving in Honolulu aboard the ...

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Sydney V. James and Gail Fowler Mohanty

Brown, Moses (12 September 1738–06 September 1836), merchant and philanthropist, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of James Brown, merchant, and Hope Power. The father died the next year, leaving a variety of properties and businesses, which indicates that his family was far from poor. Moses Brown had a few years of formal schooling before being apprenticed to his merchant uncle, Obadiah, to learn the intricacies of eighteenth-century commerce and to be adopted as a son and partner. After Obadiah died in 1762, Moses managed the business, and in 1774 married Obadiah’s daughter Anna, who bore three children, two of whom lived to maturity. Moses joined his three surviving brothers in the firm of Nicholas Brown & Co. to operate the family businesses. The profits of trade were diversified by manufacturing and money-lending. The Brown brothers inherited profitable candle and chocolate works and started a plant to smelt and work iron. They also tried at least one ill-fated slaving voyage....

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Brown, Obadiah (15 July 1771–15 October 1822), merchant and manufacturer, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Moses Brown, a merchant, and Anna Brown. He sometimes used the name Obadiah M. Brown to distinguish himself from other Browns with the same first name. Sickly as a child, he initially was educated at home and then attended the Friends New England Yearly Meeting School in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, between 1784 and 1788. This was followed by an informal apprenticeship with Almy and Brown, a Providence cotton textile manufactory established by his father, one of four brothers who were successful Providence merchants and manufacturers. The manufactory was initially managed by Obadiah’s brother-in-law, William Almy, and a cousin, Smith Brown, although under the watchful eye of Moses Brown....

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Callaway, Fuller Earle (15 July 1870–12 February 1928), textile manufacturer, was born in LaGrange, Georgia, the son of Abner Reeves Callaway, a planter, teacher, and Baptist minister, and Sarah June Howard. His father had a turbulent economic life because of the disasters associated with the Civil War. The young Fuller Callaway had very little formal education and dropped out after only one year of elementary school. Teachers of the day saw little hope for young Callaway, especially after his mother’s death when he was only eight years of age....

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Cannon, James William (25 April 1852–19 December 1921), textile manufacturer, was born near Sugar Creek Church in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, the son of Eliza Long and Joseph A. Cannon, farmers. As a child he worked on his father’s farm and attended private school. At the age of fourteen Cannon took a job as a clerk and errand boy at a grocery store in Charlotte. In 1868 he went to Concord, North Carolina, and worked at Cannon, Fetzer, and Wadsworth, the general store in which his brother David Franklin Cannon was part owner. Before the age of nineteen, after working at the store fewer than three years, he had purchased an interest in his brother’s mercantile business. Cannon was a successful merchant and became an involved and respected leader within the city of Concord, and his store became one of the leading businesses in Cabarrus County. He married Mary Ella Bost in 1875; they had ten children....

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Capezio, Salvatore (13 April 1871–06 January 1940), theatrical and dance shoe manufacturer, was born in Muro Lucano, a small town near Potenza in southern Italy. His father was a construction engineer, but his parents' names do not appear in readily available sources of information. Not wishing to enter his father's profession, he emigrated to the United States. According to Capezio company information on the Internet and in most reference sources, the teenaged Capezio arrived in 1887 and opened a shoe repair shop on West Thirty-ninth Street in New York. In fact, the company is known as “The Dancer's Cobbler since 1887.” The date of his arrival, however, varies in public records: 1890 (1900 census), 1889 (1910 census), and 1883 (1920 census.) The discrepancies may reflect Capezio's difficulty with the English language or someone else's having incorrectly supplied the information. Perhaps most authoritative are the Ellis Island passenger records; they show the 21-year-old Capezio arriving on 30 April 1892 on the ...

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Carnegie, Hattie (15 March 1886–22 February 1956), fashion designer and merchandiser, was born Henrietta Könengeiser in Vienna, Austria, the daughter of Isaac Könengeiser and Hannah Kraenzer. The family emigrated to the United States, settling on New York’s Lower East Side in 1892. Hattie’s first job was as a messenger at R. H. Macy’s, where she encountered the heady new world of modern retailing and the lifestyle of affluent New York. That experience may have inspired her to assume the name Carnegie; ...

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Hattie Carnegie. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92431).

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Coleman, Warren Clay (25 March 1849–31 March 1904), businessman, was born a slave in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, the son of Rufus C. Barringer, a white lawyer and politician, and Roxanna Coleman. Little is known about his parents, but as a youngster he learned the shoemaker’s trade and also barbering. After the Civil War he briefly attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., paying for his board and room by hawking jewelry. He also worked as an itinerant salesman in North Carolina; he saved his earnings, and in 1869 he purchased a 130-acre farm in Cabarrus County, paying $600 for the well-timbered land. In 1870 he was listed in the census as the proprietor of a small grocery store in the town of Concord, North Carolina, with a total estate of $800 in real and personal property. During the same period he also began purchasing low-priced rental houses in and around Concord, paying between $125 and $300, and renting them for between $.50 and $1.25 per week. He continued this real estate activity for many years, and according to one estimate he eventually owned nearly 100 rental houses. In 1873 he married Jane E. Jones, a native of Alabama, in a church wedding; the couple had no children. He later became a trustee of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church....

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Cone, Moses Herman (29 June 1857–08 December 1908), textile entrepreneur, was born in Jonesboro, Tennessee, the son of Herman Kahn, a Jewish wholesale grocery merchant, and Helen Guggenheimer. Cone’s father was born in Bavaria, and his mother, though born in Virginia, was of German heritage. When Cone’s father moved to the United States, the family name was changed to Cone. Cone was the eldest of thirteen children and spent his formative years in Jonesboro, where his father owned a grocery store. The family moved in 1870 to Baltimore, Maryland, where Cone attended the public schools....

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Coolidge, Thomas Jefferson (26 August 1831–17 November 1920), businessman and diplomat, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph Coolidge, Jr., a businessman, and Eleanora Wayles Randolph. On his father’s side Coolidge was descended from John Coolidge, one of the first settlers of Watertown; on his mother’s side he was descended from Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States. His parents were members of the Boston elite, and throughout his life Coolidge moved in the same circles....