John I. Beggs

John I. Beggs

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John I. Beggs

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John Irvin Beggs (September 17, 1847 – October 17, 1925) was an American entrepreneur, industrialist and financier associated closely with the electric utility boom under Thomas Edison. He was also associated with Milwaukee, St. Louis, Missouri and other regional rail and interurban trolley systems. Beggs is also known for developing modern depreciation techniques for business accounting and for being one of the early directors of what became General Electric.


John Irvin Beggs was born in Philadelphia on September 17, 1847, the son of James and Mary Irvin Beggs. Both of his parents were of Scottish descent but had emigrated to the United States from Northern Ireland.

His early life was spent around Philadelphia. After his father died when he was seven years old, Beggs worked to support of his mother in a brickyard, as a cattleman, and butcher.


As a young man Beggs taught accounting and handwriting in the Bryant & Stratton Business College in Philadelphia. He went to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at the age of 21 to work for Mitchell & Haggerty Coal Company as an accountant. He then worked selling real estate and fire insurance in Harrisburg. Beggs joined the Masonic fraternities at Harrisburg and maintained his membership in them until his death.

Electric light industry

When the electric light industry was in its infancy, Beggs assisted organization of the Harrisburg Electric Light Co. He built and managed its plant which was...
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