George A. Cowles - Early Life

Early Life

Born April 5, 1836 and raised on a Connecticut farm in Hartford, his father had been the first to manufacture broadcloth in the US. George was placed to work in a local dry goods store at age 14, by the time he left at 21, he had been promoted to first salesman. He went on to start a cotton mill of his own which unfortunately burned a year later.

Following this, Cowles became successful in the cotton business as a broker in New York, moving there when he was 25. That same year he married Jennie Blodgett from Hartford, a girl of 16. He helped organize, and at 30 was the first president of the NY Cotton Exchange. He retired from the cotton exchange at age 33. During the following year Cowles and his wife traveled the southern states. He next began a manufacturing business producing cotton cloth under government contract using a process he patented. He continued successfully in this venture until 1875.

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