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Colt, Samuel Pomeroy (10 January 1852–13 August 1921), financier and industrialist, was born in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of Christopher Colt, a silk merchant, and Theodora DeWolf. Colt’s father died when the boy was very young. Colt then spent his early years at the Hartford, Connecticut home of his uncle, ...

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Couch, Harvey Crowley (21 August 1877–30 July 1941), entrepreneur, was born in Calhoun, Arkansas, the son of Thomas Gratham Couch, a preacher and farmer, and Manie Heard. The Couches were of Welsh extraction. Harvey Couch grew up in rural poverty with little formal schooling until the illness of his father led the family to give up farming and move to Magnolia, Arkansas, where at age seventeen Couch completed his education at the Magnolia Academy. He credited his education to a teacher, Pat Neff, later a governor of Texas....

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Davis, Arthur Vining (30 May 1867–17 November 1962), industrialist, financier, and philanthropist, was born in Sharon, Massachusetts, the son of Perley B. Davis, a Congregational minister, and Mary Vining. Educated in Hyde Park, Massachusetts, and at Roxbury Latin School in Boston, Davis enrolled at Amherst College and graduated in 1888 at the top of his class. He left for Pittsburgh, where ...

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du Pont, Alfred Irénée (12 May 1864–29 April 1935), industrialist and financier, was born on the family estate outside of Wilmington, Delaware, the son of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont II, a gun powder manufacturer, and Charlotte Shepard Henderson. The wealthiest family in Delaware, the du Ponts lived as a communal unit, owning their lands and homes collectively. The sons were expected to enter the business, and the daughters usually brought their husbands to live within the du Pont enclave....

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Dumaine, Frederic Christopher (06 March 1866–27 May 1951), financial leader and industrialist, was born in Hadley, Massachusetts, the son of Christopher Dumaine and Cordelia Roberts, French-Canadian immigrant laborers. Dumaine’s only formal education was in the Hadley public schools. In 1877 he worked in a Dedham, Massachusetts, dry-goods store to help family coffers, and in 1880 he came under the tutelage of ...

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William C. Durant. With his second wife, Catherine Lederer Durant. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-101531).

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Durant, William Crapo (08 December 1861–18 March 1947), industrialist and financier, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of William Clark Durant, a businessman, and Rebecca Crapo. Durant grew up in a comfortable upper–middle-class household supported by his mother’s inheritance from her father, Henry Howland Crapo, a timber speculator, railroad investor, and former governor of Michigan. Without her husband, who had deserted the family, Rebecca Crapo Durant moved with her two children to Flint, Michigan, in 1872, three years after her father’s death....

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Eaton, Cyrus Stephen (27 December 1883–10 May 1979), industrialist and financier, was born in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada, the son of Joseph Howe Eaton, a Baptist minister, and Mary Adelle McPherson. The Eatons had long been influential in Nova Scotia political and religious life. They traced their lineage through the founding decades of that British colony in the mid-eighteenth century and to English immigrants to New England in 1640. When Cyrus Eaton was a teenager, it seemed he would pattern his life after his father’s, a rural minister of humble means. He studied at Amherst Academy in Woodstock, Ontario, and seemed destined for a life as a man of the cloth. His future was diverted, however, during a visit with his uncle, a Baptist preacher in Cleveland, whose congregation included ...

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Truman H. Newberry Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98130).

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Newberry, Truman Handy (05 November 1864–03 October 1945), businessman and senator, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of John Stoughton Newberry, a lawyer, congressman, and manufacturer who founded the Michigan Car Company, and Helen Parmelee Handy. Newberry attended Michigan Military Academy in Orchard Lake, Charlier Institute in New York City, and Reed’s School in Lakeville, Connecticut. He graduated with a Ph.B. from the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale College in 1885. Newberry began his business career as a staff member of the Detroit, Bay City, and Alpena Railroad, of which he became superintendent of construction. After his father’s death in 1887, Newberry assumed total control of the family’s business enterprises, including the presidency of the Detroit Steel and Spring Company. He also engaged in various other manufacturing activities. In 1888 he married Harriet Josephine Barnes, with whom he had a daughter and twin sons....

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Rockefeller, William (31 May 1841–24 June 1922), industrialist and financier, was born in Richford, New York, the son of William Avery Rockefeller, an itinerant dispenser of cure-alls and self-proclaimed “botanic physician,” and Eliza Davison. He grew up in rural New York State until the family moved in 1853 to Cleveland, Ohio, where he and his older brother ...