Thomas Mellon: Poverty to patriarch
Many of America's great tycoons like Vanderbilt, Rockefeller and Ford are well-known. Others are not. Little has been written about them even though they can match dollar-for-dollar and story-for-story, tales of the most famous titans. Judge Thomas Mellon, one of the great bankers and the patriarch of the house of Mellon, is as unknown today as he was during his heyday, despite accumulating one of the great fortunes. Mellon was born into a poor farming family in 1813, in county Tyrone, Ireland. Life was harsh, holding little promise, and the family immigrated to America in pursuit of the golden dream. They arrived at Fell's Point, Baltimore, in October 1818, having opted for Baltimore because it had better road access to the Western country, where their relatives had settled, than New York. The family rented a Conestoga wagon and headed to Youngstown, Ohio, where Mellon's father bought a farm with a small, dilapidated log cabin, burdened with a big mortgage payable "in money and bags and oats at market prices."