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Bee, Frederick Alonzo (9 Sept. 1825–26 May 1892), telegraph and railroad entrepreneur and vice-consul of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, was born in Clinton, New York, the son of John Bee and Mary Wilson. The couple emigrated from Northumberland, England to Clinton, New York in ...

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Robert Fulton. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102509).

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Fulton, Robert (14 November 1765–23 February 1815), artist, engineer, and entrepreneur, was born on a farm in Little Britain (later Fulton) Township, south of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of Robert Fulton, a Scotch-Irish tailor and tradesman, and Mary Smith. Fulton’s father had left the prosperous market town of Lancaster to establish his family on the land, but like so many others with the same goal, he failed. The farm and the dwelling were sold at sheriff’s sale in 1772, and he took his family back to Lancaster. He died two years later....

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Mills, Darius Ogden (05 September 1825–03 January 1910), banker and mining and railroad entrepreneur, was born in North Salem, Westchester County, New York, the son of James Mills, a town supervisor of North Salem (1835), and Hannah Ogden. From a prominent family, Mills was educated at the North Salem Academy and then at the Mount Pleasant Academy at Ossining, New York. His father’s death in 1841 deprived Mills of a college education. Instead he became a clerk in a mercantile establishment in New York City. In 1847, at the invitation of a cousin, he became cashier of the Merchants’ Bank of Erie County in Buffalo, New York....

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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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Yerkes, Charles Tyson (25 June 1837–29 December 1905), investment banker and traction entrepreneur, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Charles Tyson Yerkes, a bank president, and Elizabeth Link Broom. Yerkes, of Quaker descent, graduated from Philadelphia Central High School and began his career as a clerk in a commission broking house, James P. Perot Brothers. In 1859 Yerkes married Susanna Gutteridge Gamble; they had six children. In 1862 Yerkes started his own investment bank. He specialized in high-risk deals, and in 1866 he gained a reputation as a financial wizard by selling a new issue of Philadelphia Municipal Bonds at par while the city’s other debt was selling at 65 percent of issued value. In 1871 the Chicago Fire caused panic on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. Yerkes was overcommitted and unable to pay to the city monies he had been paid for municipal bonds. He was indicted for embezzlement, tried, convicted, and received a jail sentence of two years and nine months, of which he served seven months before obtaining a pardon....