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Insull, Samuel (11 November 1859–16 July 1938), electric utilities executive and holding company entrepreneur, was born in London, England, the son of Samuel Insull, a clergyman, and Emma Short, sometime keeper of Insull’s Temperance Hotel. Insull started work in a London auctioneering house for five shillings a week. In 1881 he left London for the United States, where he became the personal secretary of ...

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Liggett, Louis Kroh (04 April 1875–05 June 1946), drugstore chain founder and executive, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of John Templeton Liggett and Julia Kroh. He attended public school until age sixteen, after which he worked for the Detroit Journal, then for Wanamaker’s. He soon showed a flair for sales and, while still a teenager, was sent to close up a bankrupt store. Though his advertising—bright red footsteps painted on sidewalks leading to the store—got him arrested briefly, the sale was a smash success. In 1895 he married Musa Bence; they had three children....

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Spreckels, Claus (09 July 1828–26 December 1908), manufacturer and capitalist, was born in Lamstedt, Hanover (in present-day Germany), the son of Diedrich Spreckels, and Gesche Baack, farmers. Growing up in relative poverty, he received a meager formal education and often worked for neighboring farmers for little more than bread and board. When revolutionary fervor swept the Germanic states during the 1840s, Spreckels decided to emigrate. After borrowing sufficient funds for steerage passage from a friend, he sailed from Bremen in 1846 and landed in Charleston, South Carolina, with little money and no firm prospects. He soon obtained work in a grocery store and within a few weeks had saved enough to pay off his debt. By working hard and accumulating savings, he was able to purchase the business upon the owner’s retirement, paying off all his debts within a year....