In 1890, Leonidas and Alfred Merritt began a successful mining operation at the Mesaba Iron Range in Minnesota. They borrowed money in order to fund their operations, and before long, the Merritts' creditors demanded repayment of their loans. The cash-poor Merritts turned to industrialist John D. Rockefeller, who agreed to help in return for a significant interest in the Merritts' company, and the brothers were virtually forced to accept. Unfortunately for the Merritts, their stock did not hold its value and, in 1894 the Merritts had to sell off their remaining shares to Rockefeller. The Merritts tried to sue Rockefeller for fraud, but, in the end, the whole family only got $1,000,000, enough just to pay off their creditors.
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