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Babson, Roger Ward (06 July 1875–05 March 1967), businessman, author, and philanthropist, was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel Babson, a dry-goods merchant and wholesaler, and Ellen Stearns. As a child, Babson spent his summers in Gloucester on his paternal grandfather’s farm, an experience that later prompted him to write that he “owed more to that farm than any educational institution.” Off the farm, the young Babson, who was a rowdy albeit “nervous” boy, worried his mother by associating not with other middle-class Yankee children but with the “Gould Courters,” an Irish street gang....

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Creighton, Edward (31 August 1820–05 November 1874), pioneer telegraph builder, banker, and philanthropist, was born in Belmont County, Ohio (near the present town of Barnesville), the son of James Creighton and Bridget Hughes, farmers. Creighton’s father had emigrated in 1805 from County Dungannon, Ireland, to the United States. In 1830 the Creighton family moved to a farm in Licking County, Ohio. Edward Creighton began full-time employment on the family farm and as a wagoner at the age of fourteen. In these early years he worked on the pike roads of Ohio with the young ...

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du Pont, Francis Irénée (03 December 1873–16 March 1942), chemist, inventor, and stockbroker, was born at Hagley House outside of Wilmington, Delaware, the son of Francis Gurney du Pont, manager of the Du Pont black powder mills, and Elise Wigfall Simons. He was a great-grandson of ...

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Cyrus W. Field. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110001).

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Field, Cyrus West (30 November 1819–12 July 1892), financier and promoter of the transatlantic cable, was born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the son of David Dudley Field, a Congregationalist minister, and Submit Dickinson. Field’s abiding interest in grand projects such as the Atlantic telegraph owed much to his upbringing. Reared in a strict yet emotionally supportive household, he acquired from his parents a taste for hard work, a zeal for organization, and a restless curiosity. He “never saw Cyrus so uneasy,” one of his brothers once aptly remarked, “as when he was trying to keep still” (Judson, p. 58). It was also an upbringing conducive to high achievement as three of Field’s brothers also rose to national prominence: ...

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Glidden, Joseph Farwell (18 January 1813–09 October 1906), farmer, inventor, and capitalist, was born in Charlestown, Sullivan County, New Hampshire, the son of David Glidden and Polly Hurd, farmers. His family moved west to Orleans County, New York, when he was an infant. After attending local district schools, he studied at Middlebury Academy in Genesee County and at the seminary in Lima, New York. He taught school in the area for several years, but farming was always his first love. In 1837 he married Clarissa Foster in Clarendon, New York. Lacking funds to buy land in New York, he headed west in about 1840 with two crude threshing machines, doing custom threshing and general farm work. In 1842 he settled in De Kalb County, Illinois, where he purchased 600 acres of prairie land on the edge of De Kalb village. The death of the Gliddens’ three young children, followed by the death of his wife in 1843, left Glidden alone until 1851, when he married Lucinda Warne of De Kalb. They had one daughter....

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Stout, Gardner Dominick (21 April 1903–16 January 1984), investment banker, museum president, and naturalist, was born in New York City, the son of Andrew Varick Stout, a stockbroker, and Ethel Dominick. As a small boy, visits to the American Museum of Natural History first aroused Stout’s interest, he said, “in natural history and the world of animate things.” While vacationing with his family at a summer home in Rumson, he wandered along the Jersey shore, exploring the natural world and observing the behaviors of the shorebirds. Stout’s interest in nature was balanced by his commitment to the family business, and he graduated cum laude from Yale University in 1926. Later that year he joined the Wall Street banking firm of Dominick and Dominick, which had been founded in 1870 by his grandfather Bayard Dominick. In 1928 Stout purchased a seat on the New York Stock Exchange for $335,000, which was at the time the highest price ever paid for a seat. That same year he became a general partner in Dominick and Dominick. In 1930 he married Clare Kellogg, who shared his enthusiasm for travel and nature. They had three sons....

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Wade, Jeptha Homer (11 August 1811–09 August 1890), financier and telegraph industry executive, was born in Romulus, Seneca County, New York, the son of Jeptha Wade, a surveyor and civil engineer, and Sarah Allen. After suffering the loss of his father at the age of two, Wade relocated with his family to Seneca Falls, New York. While details regarding his education remain sketchy, his family’s relative poverty sent him into the workplace at an early age. After working in a brickyard, he learned carpentry and then ran a sash and blind factory. In October 1832 he married Rebecca Loueza Facer, who died in November 1836. In September of the following year he married Susan M. Fleming and also developed what would become a lifelong interest in painting. After studying portrait painting with local artist Randall Palmer, he traveled westward in 1837 and for several years made his living as an itinerant painter. He traveled from New York as far south as Louisiana and as far west as Michigan, where he learned of a new device, the daguerreotype, which he soon used in conjunction with his painting....

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Weightman, William (30 September 1813–25 August 1904), manufacturer, chemist, and financier, was born in Waltham, Lincolnshire, England, the son of William Weightman and Anne Farr. Weightman emigrated to the United States when he was sixteen at the suggestion of his uncle John Farr, a chemist and founder of the firm Farr & Kunzi, established in 1818. Farr & Kunzi was the first company to experiment with conchona alkaloids in the United States, at the same time that Pellatier and Gaventou were announcing their discovery of that substance in 1820. Weightman entered the firm in 1820, and when Kunzi retired in 1836, Weightman and another associate, Thomas Powers, formed Farr, Powers & Weightman. In 1841 Weightman married Louise Stelwagon; they had three children....