James Fiskfinancial speculator
Birthplace: Bennington, Vt.
Known as the “Barnum of Wall Street” in part for his childhood job in a circus, but more for his flamboyant approach to business, he opened his own brokerage firm in 1869. Fisk & Belden was backed by Daniel Drew, with whom Fisk conspired to prevent Cornelius Vanderbilt from gaining control of the Erie Railroad Company in what became known as the “Erie War.” With Jay Gould, Fisk took over and looted the Erie Railroad. The two later brought about the Black Friday panic of September 24, 1869, when they tried to corner the gold market. He was shot to death by Edward Stokes as a result of a highly publicized scandal over actress Josie Mansfield.Died: 1/7/1872