Historic, but not famous

John Pintard, Jr., merchant, philanthropist

John Pintard, Jr. (1759 – 1844) was a merchant and philanthropist. He was born in NY and orphaned by 18 months. He was raised by his uncle, Lewis Pintard, and attended grammar school in Hempstead, New York. He attended the university that would eventually become Princeton, but left school to join the patriot forces when the British arrived in New York. He went on various expeditions to harass the enemy. He served as deputy commissary of prisoners at New York.

He was rated as one of the most successful merchants in NYC when in 1792 he lost his fortune by engaging with William Duer in Alexander Hamilton’s scheme to fund the national debt. He had personally endorsed notes for over a million dollars and was imprisoned for the debt. He never recovered his old fortune, but his position and respect in the community enabled him to contribute generously to the projects he sponsored.

Pintard was instrumental in convincing Thomas Jefferson to make the Louisiana Purchase. He also served in NYC as secretary of the Mutual Assurance Company and secretary of the New York Chamber of Commerce. He was a founder of the New-York Historical Society, helped found the free school system in NYC, was an active participant in getting the Erie Canal built, worked with the surveyors for the Upper Manhattan street plan, was one of the chief supporters of the General Theological Seminary and helped found the American Bible Society.

St. Nicholas by John Pintard (1810)

Though all of those accomplishments pale in comparison to his helping bring Santa Claus to popularity in the American culture. He celebrated the Dutch legend of Sinterklaas. His publication in 1810 of a pamphlet proposing St. Nicholas as the patron saint of New York City attracted his friend Washington Irving who published articles on Santa Claus for the Salmungundi Club.

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Historic, but not famous

Harmon Hendricks, copper merchant

Harmon Hendricks (1846–1928) was a prominent member of the Sephardic Jewish community in New York and a pioneer in the American copper industry. He served as  the president of the Hendricks Brothers copper trading company. He was vice chairman of the board of trustees for the Museum of the American Indian.

Mr. Hendricks and his brother-in-law Simon Isaacs, were the NYC representatives of Paul Revere’s copper and metal company in Boston. Around 1812, Isaac & Hendricks set up their own copper rolling factory in Bellville, NJ, where they supplied copper boilers for a number of ships and for the Savannah, the first steamship ever to cross the Atlantic.

Mr. Hendricks was the owner of what is now known as the oldest standing home in the West Village of Manhattan. Built in 1799, it started as a wood frame house and now has a brick facade and aluminum siding as well as an added dormer.

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Historic, but not famous

Martha Carrick, wholesaler. Martha started as a general merchant in the early years of British New York. She along with many other female merchants generally sold dry goods and millinery (household goods and clothes). Many of the female shop owners were widows of sea captains and merchants. Ms. Carrick was so successful that she moved in a “store” and became a wholesaler of goods. One of the most successful early female entrepreneurs in the early city.

She was not the only successful woman merchant in the 1750s and 60s, Frances Willet had a shop on Wall street that sold sugar and rum she brought in from the West Indies on 2 ships she owned.

Jean Zimmerman has written the book: The Women of the House: How a Colonial She-Merchant Built a Mansion, a Fortune, and a Dynasty on Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse, also a woman merchant.

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