The Wealthy in the Era of A Cowboy’s Destiny
The Kelly Can Saga begins in the 1910s and the first novel, A Cowboy’s Destiny, ends in very early 1919. Charlie and Susan come from very different backgrounds and in this blog, I discuss the world Susan grew up in. Her father, Walter Kramer, is portrayed as a wealthy man. Among the richest in the United States. Let’s look at what that meant by acknowledging the wealthiest at the time of the story.
According to a study done for an article in Forbes, the two richest in 1918 were:
- John D. Rockefeller–who made his fortune in the oil business–worth 1.2 billion.
- Henry Clay Frick- in the mineral and steel business–was worth 225 million.
There were several more men worth over 100 million dollars in 1918, including Andrew Carnegie, George F. Baker, William Rockefeller, J. Ogden Armour, Henry Ford, and W. K. Vanderbilt. The report identifies close to twenty-five men as billionaires in today’s dollars.
So, in A Cowboy’s Destiny, how rich is Susan’s father Walter Kramer? He’s called the richest man west of the Mississippi River, and he’s worth about 500 million dollars. He owns banks, railroads, retail stores, and a construction company. He runs his businesses out of Kansas City like my inspiration for Walter, business executive-banker-William T. Kemper, who broadened his horizons into railroads and retail. His wealth never grew to the magnitude of Walter Kramer in the story, but he was very successful.
Like Charlie and Susan, for Walter I have an actor I think of when I’m writing about Walter. It’s Harold Gould. I’ll let you look up his full bio, but he was a highly successful character actor who you probably saw in the movie “The Sting” or maybe on television in Rhoda or the Golden Girls.
I hope you enjoy seeing how I fit my characters into the period in history.
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