A.T. Stewart: Developed first department store
Alexander Turney Stewart was so rich that kidnappers nabbed him and demanded a hefty ransom from his family. The family had little concern for Stewart's safety and offered a nominal amount for his return. After all, Stewart had died seven months earlier; the kidnappers had stolen his body from his crypt. The crime may have been unique in American annals, but then, Stewart was unique in American commerce -- he created the first American department store, and it was a megastore by anyone's standards. Born in 1803 near Belfast, Stewart grew up surrounded by tragedy. His father died when he was only three days old. At the time Stewart was learning to walk, his mother remarried and emigrated to New York, leaving him with her father. And before Stewart was eight, his only sibling, a sister, died. At his grandfather's prodding, Stewart received a liberal education with a view of entering the ministry upon graduation. He attended the Belfast Academy and Trinity College in Dublin, mastering the classics, mathematics and sciences.