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Biographies Unit Biographies

Eliza Steen Johnson 1824-1899
Gold Rush Entrepreneur

Hundreds of thousands of people came to California to seek their fortunes during the Gold Rush. Some entrepreneurs, such as Eliza Steen Johnson, started businesses to serve the new consumers in the area.

Johnson was born in Ireland. She came to the United States when she was nineteen years old. At first she lived in New York. At that time, Irish immigrants were often treated unfairly. People would only hire them to do work that paid very little. So when Johnson learned about the Gold Rush, she and her husband moved west.

They opened a clothing and hat shop in San Francisco. The store did well but Johnson thought it could do better. To set her store apart from the others, she modeled clothing for the customers. Her bold idea paid off. Customers who saw Johnson wearing the hats and clothes bought them. The store made more money. Johnson became one of San Francisco's leading business owners and citizens.

Comprehension Check

What new idea did Johnson have to make her store more successful?

Critical Thinking

Write one fact and one opinion about Gold Rush entrepreneurs.