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Allen, Ira (1751-1814), frontier entrepreneur and Vermont political leader  

J. Kevin Graffagnino

Allen, Ira (01 May 1751–15 January 1814), frontier entrepreneur and Vermont political leader, was born in Cornwall, Connecticut, the son of Joseph Allen and Mary Baker, farmers. Little is known of his youth, but in 1770 he followed his five elder brothers north to the New Hampshire Grants region and joined the Yankee versus Yorker struggle, which stemmed from the 1764 Crown decree that New York rather than New Hampshire owned the area that would become Vermont. While brother ...


Allen, Paul Gardner (21 Jan. 1953–15 Oct. 2018), software pioneer, investor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist  

Carl Abbott

Allen, Paul Gardner (21 Jan. 1953–15 Oct. 2018), software pioneer, investor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, was born in Seattle, Washington to Kenneth Allen, a University of Washington librarian, and Faye Gardner Allen, a teacher. He attended Lakeside School in Seattle. In ninth grade he met seventh-grader Bill Gates, with whom he shared an enthusiasm for computer programming. During their school years they worked on computers after hours at their school, at a downtown computer center, and at the University of Washington computer science lab. They formed a company that they called Traf-O-Data to count traffic volumes, a very early entry in the “smart city” movement. In the summer of ...


Ames, Nathan Peabody (1803-1847), manufacturer and entrepreneur  

Samuel Willard Crompton

Ames, Nathan Peabody (01 September 1803–03 April 1847), manufacturer and entrepreneur, was born in Dracut (now Lowell), Massachusetts, the son of Nathan Peabody Ames, a cutlery and edge toolmaker, and Phoebe Tyler. Nathan served an apprenticeship with his father and then joined the prosperous family business. In 1829 Ames met Edmund Dwight, who offered him four years of rent-free use of property in Cabotville, Massachusetts, if he would move himself and his business to that location (Cabotville was incorporated as Chicopee in 1848). Ames agreed to the condition and he, his father, and his younger brother, James Tyler Ames, moved to Cabotville the same year....


Annenberg, Moses Louis (11 February 1878–20 July 1942), publisher and race wire operator, called by contemporaries "Moe"  

John Cooney

Annenberg, Moses Louis (11 February 1878–20 July 1942), publisher and race wire operator, called by contemporaries "Moe", publisher and race wire operator, called by contemporaries “Moe,” was born in Kalwichen, East Prussia, the son of Tobias Annenberg, a storekeeper, and Sarah Greenberg, who were Orthodox Jews. In 1882 Tobias Annenberg moved to the United States, opening a store in “the Patch,” a tough neighborhood and breeding ground for criminals in Chicago. He saved enough money to send for his wife and children in 1885....


Averell, William Woods (1832-1900), Union general and businessman  

Edward K. Eckert

Averell, William Woods (05 November 1832–03 February 1900), Union general and businessman, was born in Cameron (Steuben County), New York, the son of Hiram Averell and Huldah Hemenway, farmers. Averell attended the U.S. Military Academy, graduating in 1855, twenty-sixth in a class of thirty-four, only excelling in horsemanship. He then served with the cavalry in the Southwest and was seriously wounded during a fight against the Navajos at Canyon de Chelly, New Mexico Territory (1858). He was in New York on convalescent leave when the Civil War began....


Cover Averell, William Woods (1832-1900)

Averell, William Woods (1832-1900)  


William W. Averell. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1655).


Avery, R. Stanton (1907-1997), inventor and entrepreneur  

Daniel Nelson

Avery, R. Stanton (13 January 1907–12 December 1997), inventor and entrepreneur, was born Ray Stanton Avery in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the son of Oliver Perry Avery, a Congregationalist minister, and Emma Dickinson Avery. Avery's early life was largely shaped by his family's religious and humanitarian interests. (Avery's mother was the daughter of a Congregationalist minister, and his brother became a minister.) Although “Stan” rebelled against the family profession, he continued to be drawn to its secular message. As a student at Pomona College from 1926 to 1932, he worked at a Los Angeles skid row mission. During a year-long trip to China (1929–1930), he spent several months at a missionary-run famine relief center. In 1932 he graduated from Pomona and took a job with the Los Angeles County Department of Charities. In later years he always insisted on the highest ethical standards in business relationships....


Cover Avery, R. Stanton (1907-1997)

Avery, R. Stanton (1907-1997)  


R. Stanton Avery. Courtesy of Avery Dennison Corporation.


Ayer, James Cook (1818-1878), proprietary medicine manufacturer and entrepreneur  

James Harvey Young

Ayer, James Cook (05 May 1818–03 July 1878), proprietary medicine manufacturer and entrepreneur, was born in Ledyard, Connecticut, the son of Frederick Ayer, a mill operator, and Persis Cook. His father, who ran water-driven sawmills, gristmills, and woolen mills as well as a blacksmith and wheelwright’s shop, died when Ayer was seven. His mother and the children lived for two years with her father in Preston, Connecticut. Ayer spent a winter with his nearby paternal grandfather while attending school; he then returned to Preston and stayed for three years, working long hours at various tasks in a carding mill—eventually under a four-cents-an-hour contract. He insisted on further education and at age twelve was sent to a school in Norwich for six months, after which he clerked for a year for a country merchant....


Baldwin, John (1799-1884), manufacturer and philanthropist  

David W. Robson

Baldwin, John (13 October 1799–28 December 1884), manufacturer and philanthropist, was born in North Branford, Connecticut, the son of Joseph Baldwin, a blacksmith, and Rosanna Meloy. Baldwin’s parents, devout Congregationalists, espoused antiliquor, antitobacco, and antislavery beliefs, which he, too, would champion. He had a conversion experience and became an evangelical Methodist at eighteen. After briefly attending an academy during his late teens, Baldwin taught school in New York, Maryland, and finally Litchfield, Connecticut. In January 1828 he married Mary D. Chappel of New London, Connecticut, herself a Methodist of humble station. They had seven children....


Barceló, Maria Gertrudis “La Tules” (1800–17 Jan. 1852), entrepreneur  

Delilah Hernandez

Barceló, Maria Gertrudis “La Tules” (c. 1800–17 Jan. 1852), entrepreneur, was born in Sonora, Mexico, the daughter of Don Pedro Pino and Doña Dolores Herrero, prosperous Spanish ranchers. Her mother was the widow of Juan Ignacio Barceló. Shortly after Mexico won its independence from Spain in ...


Cover Barnes, Albert Coombs (1872-1951)

Barnes, Albert Coombs (1872-1951)  

Maker: Carl Van Vechten


Albert C. Barnes Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1940. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 102 P&P).


Barnes, Albert Coombs (1872-1951), collector, educator, and entrepreneur  

Carol Eaton Soltis

Barnes, Albert Coombs (02 January 1872–24 July 1951), collector, educator, and entrepreneur, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Jesse Barnes, a butcher, and Lydia A. Schafer. Barnes’s father lost his right arm in the Civil War, and his ability to support his family proved sporadic. However, Albert’s mother, to whom he was devoted, was hardworking and resourceful. Among his most vivid childhood memories were the exuberant black religious revivals and camp meetings he attended with his devout Methodist parents. Accepted at the academically demanding Central High School, which awarded bachelor’s degrees, his early interest in art was stimulated by his friendship with the future artist ...


Barnett, Claude Albert (1889-1967), entrepreneur and journalist  

Robert L. Harris

Barnett, Claude Albert (16 September 1889–02 August 1967), entrepreneur and journalist, was born in Sanford, Florida, the son of William Barnett, a hotel worker, and Celena Anderson. Although his parents separated when he was young, Barnett came from a proud black family, especially on his mother’s side. He attended elementary school in Chicago and in Mattoon and Oak Park, Illinois, where he frequently lived with his mother’s family. He went to Oak Park High School near Chicago and worked as a houseboy for ...


Barnum, P. T. (1810-1891), showman  

James Ross Moore

Barnum, P. T. (05 July 1810–07 April 1891), showman, was born Phineas Taylor Barnum in Bethel, Connecticut, the son of Philo F. Barnum, a farmer and storekeeper, and Irena Taylor. While attending public school in Bethel, Barnum peddled candy and gingerbread. He later wrote that he had always been interested in arithmetic and money....


Baskin, Burt (1913-1967), cofounder of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor chain  

Dennis Wepman

Baskin, Burt (17 December 1913–24 December 1967), cofounder of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor chain, was born Burton Baskin in Streator, Illinois, about eighty miles southwest of Chicago, the son of Harold Baskin, a Russian-Jewish immigrant who had arrived in the United States in 1925 and who owned a clothing store until his retirement in 1942; Burt's mother's name is not reported. He graduated from Streator High School in 1931 and attended the University of Illinois, where he was a member of the Jewish fraternity Zeta Beta Tau. After receiving a B.A. in 1935, he entered his father's trade, working in. and ultimately buying, a men's apparel shop in the historic Palmer House Hotel (now the Palmer House Hilton) in Chicago. In 1941 he met and began dating Shirley Robbins, of Tacoma, Washington, whom he married in 1942. They had two children....


Bedaux, Charles Eugene (1886-1944), scientific manager, entrepreneur, and fascist collaborator  

Steven Kreis

Bedaux, Charles Eugene (10 October 1886–18 February 1944), scientific manager, entrepreneur, and fascist collaborator, was born in Charenton-le-Pont, France, a suburb of Paris, the son of Charles Emile Bedaux, a railroad engineer, and Marie Eulalie, a dressmaker. Bedaux spent his first twenty years on the streets of Paris, doing odd jobs and usually avoiding school. He attended the Lycée Louis LeGrand in Paris but did not receive a regular degree. In 1906 he left Paris to seek his fortune across the Atlantic. In the United States Bedaux worked as a dishwasher, an insurance salesman, and a sandhog with the crews building the Hudson River tunnels. He also had a stint at the New Jersey Worsted Mills in Hoboken. He became a naturalized citizen in 1908....


Cover Bedaux, Charles Eugene (1886-1944)
Charles E. Bedaux. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107447).


Bedinger, George Michael (1756-1843), soldier, legislator, and businessman  

Ellen T. Eslinger

Bedinger, George Michael (10 December 1756–08 December 1843), soldier, legislator, and businessman, was born in York County, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry Bedinger and Magdalene von Schlegel, innkeepers. In 1737 his grandfather had moved to Pennsylvania from the vicinity of Strasbourg in Alsace-Lorraine. At the time of George Michael’s birth, the family name was spelled Biedinger and German was the language spoken at home. Late in life Bedinger was described by a contemporary as a “full blooded Virginia Dutchman.”...


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 ...