The New Student's Reference Work/Astor, John Jacob
Astor, John Jacob, millionaire, the founder of the American Fur Company, was born in Germany, near Heidelberg, in 1763. A peasant's son, he went to London in his sixteenth year, and worked with his brother, a maker of musical instruments. In 1783 he sailed to America, and invested his small capital in furs, and after six years, by economy and industry, he had acquired a fortune of $250,000. He now sent out two expeditions to the Oregon territory, one by land and one by sea, to open a regular trade with the natives, and in 1811 established the fur-trading station of Astoria. From this time Astor's ships were found in every sea. He died in New York in 1848, leaving property estimated at $20,000,000, and a bequest of $450,000 in all to found the Astor library in New York. His great grandson, John Jacob Astor, perished in the Titanic disaster (q. v.).