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Candler, Asa Griggs (30 December 1851–12 March 1929), businessman and civic leader, was born near Villa Rica, Carroll County, Georgia, the son of Samuel Charles Candler, a farmer and merchant, and Martha Beall. Three of Asa Candler’s brothers also rose to prominence: one became a Methodist Episcopal bishop; one a justice on the Georgia Supreme Court; and the third a U.S. congressman. Candler married Lucy Elizabeth Howard in 1878, and they had five children. Lucy Candler died in Atlanta in 1919. Candler married Mary Little Reagan in 1923....

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Childs, Richard Spencer (24 May 1882–26 September 1978), business executive and political reformer, was born in Manchester, Connecticut, the son of William Hamlin Childs and Nellie White Spencer. His father founded the Bon Ami Company and, together with his other business ventures, became one of the wealthiest men in Brooklyn, New York, where the family moved in 1892. Richard Childs attended Yale University from 1900 to 1904 and earned a B.A. In 1904 he joined the advertising agency of Alfred William Erickson; eventually becoming a junior partner, he remained with the firm until 1918. He married Grace Pauline Hatch in 1912. They had four children (their firstborn died a day after birth). From 1919 to 1920 Childs was manager of the Bon Ami Company, and from 1921 to 1928 he was head of the drug specialties division of the A. E. Chew Company, a New York exporter. Childs worked for the American Cyanamid Company from 1928 to 1947 and headed its Lederle Laboratories division from 1935 to 1944....

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Peter Cooper. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-11083).

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Cooper, Peter (12 February 1791–04 April 1883), inventor, manufacturer, and civic benefactor, was born in New York City, the son of John Cooper and Margaret Campbell. His father was a struggling merchant who moved the family successively to Peekskill, Catskill, and finally Newburgh, New York, in search of financial success. Assisting his father in a series of occupations (hatter, brewer, shopkeeper, and brickmaker), Cooper obtained valuable practical work experience. Given his family’s relative poverty and constant movement, Cooper was only able to obtain a year’s worth of formal schooling; this deficiency in his formal education haunted him throughout his life....

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Coppin, Fanny Jackson (1837–21 January 1913), educator, civic and religious leader, and feminist, was born a slave in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Lucy Jackson. Her father’s name and the details of her early childhood are unknown. However, by the time she was age ten, her aunt Sarah Orr Clark had purchased her freedom, and Jackson went to live with relatives in New Bedford, Massachusetts. By 1851 she and her relatives had moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where Jackson was employed as a domestic by ...

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Craig, Isaac (1742–14 June 1826), American revolutionary officer and Pittsburgh business and civic leader, was born in Hillsborough, Ireland, to parents whose names and occupations are not known. He came to Philadelphia in late 1765 and worked in that city for about ten years as a master carpenter and builder. He became a patriot and in November 1775 was appointed as a first lieutenant in the first company of marines. That year Craig served on the ...

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Dawes, Rufus Cutler (30 July 1867–08 January 1940), utility executive and civic leader, was born in Marietta, Ohio, the son of Rufus R. Dawes, a businessman, and Mary Beman Gates. His family background included Marietta’s founders, while his father acquired a sizable fortune in a series of business ventures that included railroad construction, contracting, and a rolling mill operation. Although the latter enterprise failed in the Panic of 1873, his father soon entered the wholesale lumber business, and young Dawes grew up amid wealth....

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A. G. Gaston, 8 September 1963. Outside of his home in Birmingham, Ala., the same day it was torched in protest of his work in the Civil Rights Movement. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Gaston, A. G. (04 July 1892–19 January 1996), entrepreneur, was born Arthur George Gaston in Demopolis, Alabama, the son of Tom Gaston, a railroad worker, and Rosa Gaston (maiden name unknown), a cook. He grew up in poverty in rural Alabama before he and his mother moved to Birmingham, Alabama, after his father's death. He attended, and for a good time resided at, Tuggle Institute, where he received a moral and industrial education. In 1910 he graduated from the school with a tenth grade certificate. Before and after graduation, he worked at a variety of part-time jobs, including selling subscriptions for the ...

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Greenway, Isabella (22 March 1886–18 December 1953), congresswoman, businesswoman, and community activist, was born Isabella Selmes in Boone County, Kentucky, the daughter of Martha Macomb Flandrau and Tilden Russell Selmes, a rancher and lawyer. After Isabella’s birth, her mother took her to join Tilden Selmes in North Dakota, where ...

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Hinkle, Samuel Forry (09 June 1900–19 April 1984), manufacturer, was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Wisler Hinkle, a pharmacist, and Elizabeth Forry. He graduated from Pennsylvania State College (later Pennsylvania State University) in 1922 with a B.S. in chemical engineering. He immediately took a job as chemist with the Norton Company in Chippewa, Ontario, Canada, a manufacturer of electric furnaces. In 1923 he moved to a position as chief chemist at another Canadian firm, National Abrasive Company of Niagara Falls, Ontario. One year later he returned to the United States to work for Hershey Foods Corporation in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where he spent the rest of his career. In 1935 he married Margaret Joseph in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They had two sons....

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Kaufmann, Edgar Jonas, Sr. (01 November 1885–14 April 1955), retailer and patron of architecture, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Morris Kaufmann, a merchant, and Betty Wolf. Kaufmann’s grandfather was a horse trader in the Rhineland town of Viernheim, Germany. Two of his uncles left Germany in 1868 for Pittsburgh, where they were first peddlers and then tailors. In 1872 the two brothers were joined by Kaufmann’s father and another uncle. In 1877 the four Kaufmann brothers opened a department store in downtown Pittsburgh, doors away from the cast-iron Mellon Bank. In 1905 Edgar Kaufmann attended the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, after which he spent two years as an apprentice at the Marshall Field store in Chicago, at Les Galeries Lafayette in Paris, and at the Karstadt store in Hamburg. He returned from Europe in 1908, and by 1913 he held or controlled a majority interest in the family store. In 1909 he married his cousin Lilianne Kaufmann; they had one child....

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Kirstein, Louis Edward (09 July 1867–10 December 1942), retailing executive and civic leader, was born in Rochester, New York, the son of Edward Kirstein, an eyeglass manufacturer, and Jeanette Leiter. After completing grammar school, Kirstein engaged in a number of business occupations. He managed the business affairs of minor league baseball teams in the South and later owned the American Association team in Rochester. Early in his career, he experienced a series of financial mishaps and reportedly turned down an offer from ...

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Leffingwell, Christopher (11 June 1734–07 November 1810), businessman and civic leader, was born in Norwich, Connecticut, the son of Benajah Leffingwell, one of the town’s wealthiest residents, and Joanna Christophers, the daughter of a New London merchant. Born to wealth and social position, Leffingwell used his advantages to increase his own fortune and to serve the community into which he was born and where he died....

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Outerbridge, Eugenius Harvey (08 March 1860–10 November 1932), merchant and civic leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Alexander Ewing Outerbridge, a shipping executive, and Laura C. Harvey. A member of a prominent and wealthy family that included the brothers Alexander Ewing Outerbridge, a metallurgist, and Sir Joseph Outerbridge of Bermuda, Eugenius Outerbridge was educated at Ury House, a private school in Philadelphia. At the age of sixteen he took a job with Harvey & Company, a long-established import-export firm belonging to his mother’s family, in St. John’s, Newfoundland. After two years he returned to the United States as the New York agent for the company, and in 1881 the New York office was reorganized as Harvey & Outerbridge, with Outerbridge as the sole resident partner. In 1923, when it was incorporated, he became its president. In addition to his thriving import and export business, Outerbridge was active in numerous other business ventures. He became the president, treasurer, and managing director of the Pantasote Leather Company in New York and New Jersey and was vice president and managing director of the Agasote Millboard Company of New York. In 1891 he married Ethel Boyd; they had two children. Their son, Kenneth Boyd Outerbridge, became the president of Harvey & Outerbridge after Eugenius Outerbridge’s death....

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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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Seligman, Joseph (22 November 1819–25 April 1880), merchant, investment banker, and New York civic leader, was born in Baiersdorf, Bavaria, the son of David Seligman and Fanny Steinhardt. Joseph, who excelled in literature and in the classics, graduated from the Erlangen Gymnasium and started to study medicine. Resentful of the economic and sociopolitical restrictions against Jews in the Germanies, he decided against a career in medicine and against one in the wool-weaving business of his father and in 1837 made the long journey on the ship ...

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Welsh, John (09 November 1805–10 April 1886), merchant, civic leader, and minister to Great Britain, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Welsh, a merchant, and Jemima Maris. Although trained by his father, who specialized in trade with the West Indies, Welsh entered the dry goods business and became a partner in the firm of Dulles, Wilcox, & Welsh. In 1829 he married Rebecca B. Miller, with whom he had two children before her death in 1832. In 1838 he married Mary Lowber; they had nine children. After his father died in 1854, Welsh joined his brothers Samuel and William in the family sugar-importing firm. Welsh widened his business interests by investing in and becoming president, for one disastrous year, of the North Pennsylvania Railroad, which in July 1855 began a nineteen-mile run between Philadelphia and Gwynedd. In 1856 a careless conductor caused a collision on a North Pennsylvania excursion train carrying 500 Roman Catholic girls and boys from St. Michael’s parish in Kensington. Thirty-nine children were killed and seventy-two were wounded. Deeply distressed, Welsh contributed $500 to a relief fund and gave up the presidency of the road....

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Wilkeson, Samuel (01 June 1781–07 July 1848), shipowner, iron founder, and manufacturer, was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the son of John Wilkeson and Mary Robinson, farmers. Samuel Wilkeson’s early years, after only two weeks of formal education, were devoted solely to working on his father’s farm. In 1902 at age twenty-one he left the family farm and married Jane Oram, who subsequently bore all of Wilkeson’s six children....