Straus, Isidor
Isidor Straus is best known as an owner and manager of the R.H. Macy department store in New York City. During his lifetime he was equally well known as an owner and manager of the Straus family’s large china and glassware importing business, L. Straus & Sons, also located in New York City. Continue Reading »
Strauss, Levi
The name Levi Strauss is famous worldwide, and will be forever linked to the world’s first blue jeans, a product he helped to create. But Strauss was more than just the manifestation of his various denim products. He started his business when San Francisco was a raw, rowdy town and when he was only in his early twenties. The man and the city grew up together, as Strauss helped to make it the commercial capital of the West. Continue Reading »
Thalhimer, William
Wolff Thalheimer, later known as William Thalhimer, opened a one-room dry goods store in Richmond, Virginia, in 1842. By the time of his death at age seventy-three, Thalhimer had survived bankruptcy to establish a family-owned business that would remain in operation for the next 150 years, managed almost exclusively by family. Continue Reading »
Timken, Henry
Henry Timken developed the tapered roller bearing and went on to found a company to manufacture roller bearings that grew into a large, multinational corporation. The Timken Company, formerly Timken Roller Bearing Axle Company, remains, to this day, one of the most successful global family businesses in the United States. Continue Reading »
Untermyer, Samuel
German-American entrepreneurship can be found across the whole spectrum of American business in the period since 1720. The legal profession is no exception. Guggenheimer & Untermyer was one of the most successful and prominent German-American law firms during its life span, approximately 1855 to 1986. The firm was founded in the mid-1850s by Adolph (Abraham) Levinger, a Bavarian-Jewish immigrant. Samuel Untermyer later transformed it into an entrepreneurial Wall Street firm that represented a host of prominent clients, both German-America and native-born, Jewish and Gentile, during the late nineteenth century and throughout much of the twentieth. Continue Reading »
Villard, Henry
A financier and investor, Henry Villard helped realize many important infrastructure ventures in the U.S. and in the process made and lost several fortunes. Continue Reading »
Wagener, Frederick
Frederick W. Wagener emigrated from Bremerhaven in 1848 along with thousands from the so-called Forty-Eighters generation. He founded and operated a successful retail grocery business before the Civil War, and during the postwar period expanded his operations to include wholesale groceries, naval stores, and cotton. Continue Reading »
Wesendonck, Hugo
Hugo Wesendonck was born into a merchant family in the Prussian Rhineland. He worked as a lawyer before his involvement in the ill-fated Frankfurt Parliament, the first attempt to build a democratic government for a unified Germany, forced him to seek asylum and take up commercial activities in the United States. His entrepreneurial ambitions there were informed by the needs of German immigrants and in 1860 he helped to found the Germania Life Insurance Company in New York City, a corporation still operating under the name Guardian Life Insurance in the present. While the company picked up a timely trend in the financial sector, Wesendonck spotted in the life insurance business a way to manifest an ethnicity-based idea of security that served the sovereignty of a transnational community of German people. Continue Reading »

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