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Barlow, Joel (1754-1812), businessman, diplomat, and poet  

Carla J. Mulford

Barlow, Joel (24 March 1754–26 December 1812), businessman, diplomat, and poet, was born in Redding, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Barlow and Esther Hull, fairly well-to-do farmers. Barlow was born the second-to-last child in a large family. Given the size of the family and their farm, Barlow could receive formal education only from the local minister, an education probably interspersed with farm chores. When Barlow was eighteen, his father arranged for his schooling at Moor’s Indian School (now Dartmouth) in Hanover, New Hampshire. Barlow began his studies there in 1772, yet his father’s death shortly thereafter made it necessary for Barlow to return home. He entered Yale College with the class of 1778. At Yale Barlow began to give evidence of an interest in poetry, in moral and political philosophy, and in science as a key to the improvement of the human condition. His first published poem, a broadside publication, was a satire in pseudobiblical verse about the bad food served in Yale commons. Although he wrote poems throughout his college days, Barlow’s best-known college verses were verse orations delivered at two Yale commencements, ...


Cover Barlow, Joel (1754-1812)
Joel Barlow. Watercolor on ivory, 1806, by William Dunlap. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joel Barlow.


Barnes, Julius Howland (1873-1959), industrialist and government official  

Ellis W. Hawley

Barnes, Julius Howland (02 February 1873–17 April 1959), industrialist and government official, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the son of Lucien Jerome Barnes, a banker, and Julia Hill. Moving with his family, he attended public schools in Washington, D.C., and Duluth, Minnesota. Following his father’s death in 1886, Barnes left school to take a job as office boy with the Duluth grain brokerage firm of Wardell Ames. There he rose rapidly, becoming president of the company in 1910 and subsequently reorganizing it as the Barnes-Ames Company. By 1915 Barnes-Ames was the world’s largest grain exporter, and Barnes acquired other business interests, principally in shipbuilding and Great Lakes shipping. In 1896 he married Harriet Carey, with whom he had two children....


Cover Barnes, Julius Howland (1873-1959)
Julius H. Barnes. Right, with Thomas Lamont, left, and Silas Strawn. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92371).


Butterfield, John (1801-1869), western pioneer, express company operator, and investor  

Stephen Salsbury

Butterfield, John (18 November 1801–14 November 1869), western pioneer, express company operator, and investor, was born in Berne, near Albany, New York, the son of Daniel Butterfield (his mother’s name is unknown). His formal education consisted of intermittent attendance at local public schools. As a young man he became a stagecoach driver in New York State and later an investor in barges plying the Erie Canal....


Casey, James E. (1888-1983), corporation executive  

Yanek Mieczkowski

Casey, James E. (29 March 1888–06 June 1983), corporation executive, was born in Candelaria, Nevada, a small mining town where his father worked as a part-time prospector and part-time innkeeper. While Casey was still an infant, his father moved the family to Seattle, Washington. With his father in poor health, Casey had to leave school at age eleven to support the family. After working in Seattle as a delivery boy for a department store and as a messenger for the American District Telegraph Company, Casey went to Nevada and prospected for gold. He returned to Seattle where, in August 1907, he and fellow teenager Claude Ryan began a messenger service, which they called the American Messenger Company. Ryan’s uncle allowed the boys to establish an office in a space 6 feet by 17 feet beneath a tavern that he operated at Main Street and Second Avenue in Seattle....


Cheney, Benjamin Pierce (1815-1895), transportation executive  

Edward L. Lach, Jr.

Cheney, Benjamin Pierce (12 August 1815–23 July 1895), transportation executive, was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, the son of Jesse Cheney, a blacksmith, and Alice Steele. Born into an impoverished family, he attended local common schools until the age of ten and then went to work in his father’s shop. After nearly two years working with his father, he relocated to Francistown, New Hampshire, where he took a job in a tavern and later worked in a local store....


Collins, Edward Knight (1802-1878), merchant and shipping operator  

Edward W. Sloan

Collins, Edward Knight (05 August 1802–22 January 1878), merchant and shipping operator, was born in Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the son of Israel Gross Collins, a sea captain, merchant trader, and ship owner, and Mary Ann Knight, an Englishwoman who died soon after Edward’s birth. After his mother’s death, his father moved to New York City, leaving Edward to be raised by the Collins family. Edward’s uncle (and later business associate), John Collins, was an important influence....


Cover Collins, Edward Knight (1802-1878)

Collins, Edward Knight (1802-1878)  


Edward Knight Collins. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109875).


Fargo, William George (1818-1881), business leader and mayor of Buffalo, New York  

Richard R. John

Fargo, William George (20 May 1818–03 August 1881), business leader and mayor of Buffalo, New York, was born in Pompey, New York, the son of William C. Fargo, a farmer and mail contractor, and Tacy Strong, a farmer. The eldest of twelve children, Fargo grew accustomed to steady work at an early age. He had little formal education and at the age of thirteen secured a job carrying the mail on horseback twice a week over a thirty-mile route. Since Fargo’s father was also a mail carrier, Fargo may well have owed this opportunity to his father’s influence. He supplemented his income as a mail carrier by running a variety of errands for his neighbors, for which he was paid a small commission. These errands included carrying parcels and messages and purchasing goods at local stores. It is likely that this experience helped to shape Fargo’s later determination to establish a business that would perform these tasks on a regular basis and on a greatly extended geographical scale....


Grady, Henry Francis (1882-1957), diplomat, economist, and businessman  

Dennis Merrill

Grady, Henry Francis (12 February 1882–14 September 1957), diplomat, economist, and businessman, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of John Henry Grady and Ellen Genevieve Rourke. He earned his A.B. in 1907 from St. Mary’s University in Baltimore, Maryland, and his doctorate in economics in 1927 from Columbia University. As a young man, Grady studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood, but his interest in economics and finance led him to overlapping careers in business, academia, and government. In 1917 he married Lucretia del Valle; they had four children....


Hale, James Webster (21 November 1801–17 August 1892), entrepreneur  

Richard R. John

Hale, James Webster (21 November 1801–17 August 1892), entrepreneur, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin Hale, a sail maker, and Marianna Foxwell Lowell. Hale was a restless youth who, after attending public school in Boston, went to sea at age fifteen. He sailed to Europe, Asia, Africa, and the West Indies, eventually becoming a sea captain. It was probably Hale’s maritime exploits that brought him into contact with ...


Harriman, W. Averell (1891-1986), businessman and government official  

Robert H. Ferrell

Harriman, W. Averell (15 November 1891–26 July 1986), businessman and government official, was born William Averell Harriman in New York City, the son of the railroad organizer Edward H. Harriman and Mary Averell (Mary Williamson Averell Harriman). He spent his early years in New York and on the family estate of Arden in the nearby Ramapo Mountains. He was educated at Groton and Yale. Harriman did poorly in preparatory studies, which brought admonishment from his father, and it is possible that his stammer, which he carried throughout his long life, resulted from this experience. At Yale he did better academically, and excelled socially....


Cover Harriman, W. Averell (1891-1986)
W. Averell Harriman. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-105320 ).


Holladay, Ben (1819-1887), transportation magnate  

Martha J. Bianco

Holladay, Ben (14 October 1819–08 July 1887), transportation magnate, was born in Nicholas County, Kentucky, the son of William Holladay and Margaret Hughes, farmers. At age seventeen, with little education or experience beyond that gained as the son of poor farmers on the Kentucky frontier, Holladay left home, sensing opportunity lying to the west. He moved to Weston, on the Missouri-Kansas border, where he began working as a courier for militia fighting against the Mormons in the town of Far West, Missouri. In this role of ferrying messages back and forth between the Mormons and the militia, Holladay was able to gain the Mormons’ trust. After this experience, in 1838 Holladay decided to settle in Weston and made a series of entrepreneurial investments, first as a saloonkeeper and then as a druggist and dry-goods merchant. Eventually he opened a hotel and was appointed local postmaster. With his profits, he purchased his first set of freight wagons, fitting them with the extra-wide tires that would become his trademark. In 1840 Holladay met and married Notley Ann Calvert, daughter of a well-to-do Weston family; they had seven children, one of whom died in infancy....


Keith, Minor Cooper (1848-1929), entrepreneur  

Thomas Schoonover

Keith, Minor Cooper (19 January 1848–14 June 1929), entrepreneur, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Minor Hubbell Keith, a lumber merchant, and Emily Meiggs, sister of Henry Meiggs, who built railroads in Chile, Bolivia, and Peru. Keith was educated in private schools in Stamford, Connecticut. In 1883 he married Cristina Castro, daughter of José María Castro, who served twice as Costa Rican president. They had no children....


King, William (1768-1852), merchant shipper, army officer, and governor of Maine  

Joel Webb Eastman

King, William (09 February 1768–17 June 1852), merchant shipper, army officer, and governor of Maine, was born in Scarborough, Maine, the son of Richard King, a merchant and shipowner, and Mary Black. He was educated at home, but he spent one term at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts....


Lamar, Gazaway Bugg (1798-1874), business entrepreneur  

Susan Hamburger

Lamar, Gazaway Bugg (20 October 1798–05 October 1874), business entrepreneur, was born near Augusta, in Richmond County, Georgia, the son of Basil Lamar, a landholder, and Rebecca Kelly. Lamar received little formal education, although he had private Latin instruction. By age twenty-three and married to his first wife Jane Meek Creswell, whom he wed in October 1821, Lamar became a commission merchant in Augusta and, by 1823, in Savannah. Lamar’s expanding enterprises included banking and steamboating....


Low, Frederick Ferdinand (1828-1894), businessman, politician, and diplomat  

Sylvia B. Larson

Low, Frederick Ferdinand (30 June 1828–21 July 1894), businessman, politician, and diplomat, was born in Frankfort (present-day Winterport), Maine, into a Penobscot Valley farming family. His parents’ names are not known. Frederick Low attended public schools and Hampden Academy. At age fifteen he was apprenticed to Russell, Sturgis and Company, a Boston firm with a large China trade. He enriched his education by attending Fanuiel Hall and Lowell Institute lectures. Low completed his apprenticeship in 1849 and joined other Forty-niners in California. For three months he panned gold on the American River. Taking some $1,500 from his claim, he declared himself “satisfied” and returned to San Francisco to commence successful careers in business and government....


March, William (1893-1954), writer and business executive  

Roy S. Simmonds

March, William (18 September 1893–15 May 1954), writer and business executive, was born William Edward Campbell in Mobile, Alabama, the son of John Leonard Campbell, a timber cruiser, and Susan March. His childhood was spent in the small timber communities of West Florida and South Alabama, and his schooling ended at the age of fourteen when he began work in the office of a local sawmill. He left home at the age of sixteen for Mobile and obtained a position in a law office. He accumulated sufficient savings to put himself through a high school course of study at Valparaiso University (1913–1914) and subsequently to enter the law school of the University of Alabama as a special student (1914–1915). In 1916 he went to New York and became a subpoena server for a law firm....