Entries in Manufacturing

Albrecht, Charles
Charles Albrecht was one of the most important musical instrument makers in early America. He immigrated to Philadelphia in the mid-1780s and by 1789 went into business as a piano maker. His business thrived for nearly thirty years in a very competitive market, as more instrument makers settled in Philadelphia and imported pianos became increasingly common. By 1825, Albrecht had earned sufficient wealth to retire from the instrument-making business and became a leisured gentleman. Continue Reading »
Albrecht, Johann Andreas
Johann Andreas Albrecht was a European-trained gunstocker, who emigrated in 1750 to the Moravian community of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. After initially being deployed as a music teacher and a tavern keeper by the Moravian community, Albrecht established a new gun shop at Christiansbrunn in 1763, which supplied arms to Pennsylvania during the American Revolution. At Christiansbrunn and later at Lititz, another Moravian community where he lived the last three decades of his life, Albrecht trained a new generation of gunsmiths, including Christian Oerter and William Henry Jr. Continue Reading »
America in Global Context: German Entrepreneurs around the World
The United States was undoubtedly the most important, but by no means the only country of destination for German immigrant entrepreneurs. German industrialists, merchants, and other entrepreneurs could be found in virtually all world regions where international trade or local markets promised satisfactory returns. They were globally dispersed manifestations – and motors – of Germany’s expanding economy between unification in 1871 and the First World War. Continue Reading »
Aust, Gottfried
German immigrants Gottfied Aust and Rudolph Christ established a long-lasting, important, and distinctive pottery tradition in the southern United States. Master potter Gottfried Aust settled in Bethabara, one of the earliest Moravian communities in North Carolina, in 1755. He and his apprentices and journeymen, including Rudolph Christ (who replaced Aust as master in 1789), were some of the earliest American potters to experiment with the production of creamware, white, salt-glazed stoneware, and tin-glazed earthenware. Together, Aust and Christ developed a distinct aesthetic tradition that would continue to be appreciated centuries later for both its visual and aesthetic qualities. Continue Reading »
Bausch, John
Credited as the entrepreneur behind Bausch & Lomb, John Jacob Bausch ranks among the pioneers who paved the way for the birth of the American optical industry. He transformed a small store for eyeglasses into a large-scale manufacturing enterprise for optical goods in Rochester, New York. Continue Reading »
Bechtler, Christopher
Jeweler, watchmaker, and gunsmith, Christopher Bechtler founded the most successful private mint in the eastern United States. During its peak production from 1831 to 1840, Bechtler’s North Carolina mint rivaled the output of the federal mints and was a significant stimulus to the economy of the state. Continue Reading »
Bolter, Andrew
Andrew Bolter started A. Bolter Co. in 1856 and became one of Chicago’s leading iron founders. After rebuilding his business following the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, Bolter garnered attention for the artistic steel designs produced by his renamed Illinois Iron Works while also gathering one of the country’s largest and most complete collections of exotic and North American insects. Continue Reading »
Carus, Mary Hegeler
Born on the grounds of her father’s zinc factory, Mary Hegeler Carus took the unusual step for a woman of her time period in pursuing a college career and going on to advanced study in engineering. She then took on the responsibility of running her family’s business, the Matthiessen and Hegeler Zinc Company, resisting the efforts of her siblings to sell the company to outsiders. Continue Reading »
Dickert, Jacob
Jacob Dickert was a leading gunsmith in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the center of early American rifle-making throughout the eighteenth century. Over his long career, which extended from the French and Indian War to the War of 1812, Dickert helped transform Lancaster’s scattered, independent, small-scale gunmakers into a coordinated industry that could fulfill enormous government contracts and petition Congress for trade protection. Continue Reading »
Fey, Charles August
Over the course of a successful career, Charles August Fey made significant contributions to the development of America’s gaming industry. He is remembered today as the creator of the modern slot machine and as the “Thomas Edison of slots.” Continue Reading »
Gaertner, William
William Gaertner, a first-generation German immigrant, is remembered as a pioneer of the scientific instrument industry in the United States. Continue Reading »
Gebelein, George
A first-generation immigrant, George Gebelein earned acclaim for the superb quality of his handcrafted silver products, finding success as a craftsman in an era when mass-produced goods had replaced handcrafted products. Continue Reading »
Gemünder, George
August and George Gemünder pioneered high-quality violin making and trading in the United States and were responsible for establishing violin making as a respected craft in the U.S. and also for facilitating the flow of classical violins into the country. Continue Reading »
German Immigrants and J. P. Morgan’s Securities Underwriting Syndicates
The Immigrant Entrepreneurship project offers a transnational perspective on American history. Transaction records from the J. P. Morgan & Co. Syndicate Books help us understand how a transnational society of bankers networked funds around the world by forming syndicates to support the globalization process. Syndicate participation provided a way for many German immigrants and German-Americans to attain both economic success and social status in America. Continue Reading »
Gruen, Dietrich
After learning the watchmaking trade in the Black Forest region, Dietrich Gruen immigrated to the United States, where he eventually patented an improved center pinion for watches. This innovation became the foundation of Gruen’s business ventures, which included the Gruen Watch Company, a leading watch manufacturing firm that operated for half a century. Continue Reading »
Guggenheim, Felix
Felix Guggenheim emigrated to the United States in 1940. An influential publisher in Germany, Guggenheim was able to utilize his former contacts to establish a successful business as a literary agent and legal advisor for clients in the U.S. and in Germany after the end of World War II. Continue Reading »
Hasenclever, Peter
Peter Hasenclever was a German-born international businessman active from approximately 1733 until 1792. From 1764 to 1770, he resided in the British colonies of New York and New Jersey, where he established an ultimately unsuccessful transatlantic enterprise to produce, transport, and market iron and steel. Continue Reading »
Hohner, Hans
In 1857, Matthias Hohner established a harmonica workshop that would become the world-leading producer of this small musical instrument. Founded in Trossingen, a small town in rural southwest Germany, the company soon expanded into the American market through Matthias Hohner's son Hans, who was partially educated in the United States and supervised the first foreign branch of the company, founded in New York in 1901. Hans' nephew, Matthias (Matthew) Hohner, later took over the American branch from Hans in 1927. Continue Reading »
Karpen, Solomon
Solomon Karpen founded S. Karpen & Bros. in Chicago in 1880. By 1899, it had become the largest upholstered furniture manufacturing company in the world. Continue Reading »
Keuffel, Wilhelm J.D.
Wilhelm Johann Diedrich Keuffel was one of the founding partners of Keuffel & Esser Company (K&E), a scientific instrument manufacturing firm founded in New York City in 1867. Best known for its popularization of the slide rule, Keuffel & Esser was the first American company to specialize in the manufacture and sale of drafting and surveying tools. By the early twentieth century, it was one of the largest manufacturers of scientific instruments in the world. Continue Reading »