Marshall Field - Encyclopedia

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MARSHALL FIELD (1835-1906), American merchant, was born at Conway, Massachusetts, on the 18th of August 1835. Reared on a farm, he obtained a common school and academy education, and at the age of seventeen became a clerk in a dry goods store at Pittsfield, Mass. In 1856 he removed to Chicago, where he became a clerk in the large mercantile establishment of Cooley, Wadsworth & Company. In 1860 the firm was reorganized as Cooley, Farwell & Company, and he was admitted to a junior partnership. In 1865, with Potter Palmer (1826-1902) and Levi Z. Leiter (1834-1904), he organized the firm of Field, Palmer & Leiter, which subsequently became Field, Leiter & Company, and in 1881 on the retirement of Leiter became Marshall Field & Company. Under Field's management the annual business of the firm increased from $12,000,000 in 1871 to more than $40,000,000 in 1895, when it ranked as one of the two or three largest mercantile establishments in the world. He died in New York city on the 16th of January 1906. He had married, for the second time, in the previous year. Field's public benefactions were numerous; notable among them being his gift of land valued at $300,000 and of $10o,000 in cash to the University of Chicago, an endowment fund of $1,000,000 to support the Field Columbian Museum at Chicago, and a bequest of $8,000,000 to this museum.

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