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Austell, Alfred (1814-1881), businessman and financier  

Mary A. DeCredico

Austell, Alfred (14 January 1814–07 December 1881), businessman and financier, was born in Dandridge, Tennessee, the son of William Austell and Jane Wilkins, farmers. Austell was reared in the East Tennessee foothills and received little formal education. At the age of seventeen he left Tennessee to join his older brother William’s cotton business in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The business was heavily encumbered by debts, but Austell and his brother were able to turn it into a success and pay off their $20,000 liability in just three years....


Bee, Frederick Alonzo (9 Sept. 1825–26 May 1892), telegraph and railroad entrepreneur and vice-consul of the Chinese consulate  

Anthony Oertel

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 ...


Brice, Calvin Stewart (1845-1898), U.S. senator, railroad builder, and financier  

Thomas S. Mach

Brice, Calvin Stewart (17 September 1845–15 December 1898), U.S. senator, railroad builder, and financier, was born in Denmark, Ohio, the son of William Kilpatrick Brice, a Presbyterian minister, and Elizabeth Stewart. He received his earliest education at home and in the public schools of Columbus Grove, Putnam County, where his family moved after his third birthday. When Brice turned thirteen years old, his parents placed him in the preparatory program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where because of his father’s limited means he had to work his way through school. He required only one year of preparatory work before being granted admission as a freshman....


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....


Corbin, Austin (1827-1896), financier, real estate developer, and railroad executive  

John H. Hepp

Corbin, Austin (11 July 1827–04 June 1896), financier, real estate developer, and railroad executive, was born in Newport, New Hampshire, the son of Austin Corbin, a farmer and politician, and Mary Chase. Corbin had little formal education. He attended the common schools in Newport and taught there briefly as a young man. He read law under two New England attorneys and then enrolled in Harvard Law School, graduating in 1849. Corbin was not an active member of the bar for very long. For two years he practiced law in Newport with Ralph Metcalf. In 1851 he moved to Davenport, Iowa, and continued as an attorney for three more years. In 1853 he married Hannah Maria Wheeler of Newport; they had four children....


Cord, Errett Lobban (1894-1974), automaker and financier  

Yanek Mieczkowski

Cord, Errett Lobban (20 July 1894–02 January 1974), automaker and financier, was born in Warrensburg, Missouri, the son of Charles W. Cord, a storekeeper, and Ida Lobban. Throughout his life Cord was known simply by his initials, “E. L.” In the early 1900s his family moved to Los Angeles, where Cord attended high school but left before finishing his final year. As a teenager he showed a passion for automobiles, rebuilding old cars and racing them on dirt tracks in California and Oregon. Cord operated a garage and a trucking firm in California, the latter in Death Valley. He also established the short-lived Cord Auto Washing Company, worked as a truck driver, and sold and raced cars in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1914 Cord married Helen Marie Frische of Cincinnati. They had two sons....


Crown, Henry (1896-1990), entrepreneur and philanthropist  

Jacob A. Vander Meulen

Crown, Henry (13 June 1896–14 August 1990), entrepreneur and philanthropist, was born Henry Krinsky in Chicago, the son of Arie Krinsky, a Lithuanian immigrant garment worker, and his wife Ida Gordon. At some point they changed their name to Crown. To help his poor family, Crown took a job at age fourteen as clerk at the Chicago Firebrick Company. In 1912 he began work at the Union Drop Forge Company, while taking night courses in accounting. In 1915 he and his two older brothers, Sol and Irving, formed a small steel-brokerage company, S. A. Crown and Company, and Crown quickly established a local reputation as an aggressive and reliable deal maker with a discerning eye for opportunity, a striking power of recall, and an acute sense of timing....


Dillingham, Benjamin Franklin (1844-1918), businessman  

Richard A. Hawkins

Dillingham, Benjamin Franklin (04 September 1844–20 August 1918), businessman, was born in West Brewster, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin Clark Dillingham, a shipmaster, and Lydia Sears Howes. Dillingham was educated in the public schools of Southboro and Worcester, Massachusetts. He left school at age fourteen to become a seaman on the merchant ship ...


Dillon, Sidney (1812-1892), railroad constructor and financier  

Samuel Willard Crompton

Dillon, Sidney (07 May 1812–09 June 1892), railroad constructor and financier, was born in Northampton, Montgomery County, New York, the son of Timothy Dillon, a farmer who had fought in the revolutionary war. His mother’s name is unknown. He grew up in humble circumstances and at the age of seven accepted work as a water boy on the Mohawk & Hudson Railroad from Albany to Schenectady, New York. He carried water to the laborers who were employed on the grating and received one dollar per week for his efforts....


Fish, Stuyvesant (1851-1923), railroad executive and banker  

John F. Stover

Fish, Stuyvesant (24 June 1851–10 April 1923), railroad executive and banker, was born in New York City, the son of Hamilton Fish and Julia Kean. He was a direct descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, and his father had been a New York congressman, governor, and later a U.S. senator and secretary of state in the cabinet of ...


Forbes, John Murray (1813-1898), merchant, capitalist, and railroad developer  

John Lauritz Larson

Forbes, John Murray (23 February 1813–12 October 1898), merchant, capitalist, and railroad developer, was born in Bordeaux, France, and raised in Milton, Massachusetts, the son of Ralph Bennet Forbes, a merchant, and Margaret Perkins. Through the generosity of his elder brother, Thomas Tunno Forbes, young John enjoyed five years of schooling at the experimental Round Hill School in Northampton, Massachusetts, before taking up a place in 1828 as a clerk to his uncles in Boston, the China traders James and ...


Fulton, Robert (1765-1815), artist, engineer, and entrepreneur  

C. M. Harris

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....


Cover Fulton, Robert (1765-1815)
Robert Fulton. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102509).


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....


Green, John Cleve (1800-1875), philanthropist, railroad entrepreneur, and China trader  

Richard Groves

Green, John Cleve (04 April 1800–29 April 1875), philanthropist, railroad entrepreneur, and China trader, was born in Lawrenceville (formerly Maidenhead), New Jersey, the son of Caleb Smith and Elizabeth Green. His great-great-grandfather, Jonathan Dickinson, was first president of the College of New Jersey, which later became Princeton University; this family connection would later play a great part in Princeton’s future....


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 ...


Hertz, John Daniel (1879-1961), transportation entrepreneur and investment banker  

Douglas Shaw

Hertz, John Daniel (10 April 1879–08 October 1961), transportation entrepreneur and investment banker, was born in Ruttka, a village in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the north of Budapest (now a part of Slovakia), the son of Jacob Hertz and Katie Schlessinger. The family immigrated to the United States in 1884 and settled in Chicago. The family was poor and parental discipline strict....


Huntington, Collis Potter (1821-1900), railroad builder and financier  

Eugene L. Huddleston

Huntington, Collis Potter (22 October 1821–13 August 1900), railroad builder and financier, was born at Harwinton, Connecticut, the son of William Huntington, a farmer and small manufacturer, and Elizabeth Vincent. Huntington’s schooling, limited to four months a year, ended when he was thirteen. His marriage in 1844 to Elizabeth T. Stoddard lasted until her death in 1883. Childless, the couple in 1862 adopted the daughter of Elizabeth’s deceased sister. In 1884 Huntington married a widow, Arabella Duval Yarrington Worsham, and adopted her only son. Huntington died at Pine Knot Lodge, near (or on) Lake Raquette, New York....


Cover Huntington, Collis Potter (1821-1900)

Huntington, Collis Potter (1821-1900)  


Collis Potter Huntington. Oil on canvas, 1958, by Herbert Bohnert. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Anna Hyatt Huntington.


Huntington, Henry Edwards (1850-1927), urban developer, railroad executive, and book and art collector  

William B. Friedricks

Huntington, Henry Edwards (27 February 1850–23 May 1927), urban developer, railroad executive, and book and art collector, was born in Oneonta, New York, the son of Solon Huntington, a merchant, land speculator, and farmer, and Harriet Saunders. His father was conservative by nature, and it was his uncle, railway magnate ...