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About Robert Dollar

About the author: Robert Dollar (March 20, 1844 – May 16, 1932), considered a lumber baron and shipping magnate in his time, founder and owner of the Dollar Line (later, after his death, American President Line). The Online Archive of California, in its page on the Robert Dollar Papers, summarizes his life as follows:

The founder of a vast lumber and shipping empire, Robert Dollar was born in Falkirk, Scotland in 1844. He emigrated to Canada with his father in 1858 and started work as a cook’s boy in a lumber camp. By 1866 he was foreman of a camp and, in 1871, bought his first piece of timber land. He continually enlarged his scope of operations, moving first to Michigan, and, in 1888, to California where he opened an office in San Francisco and established his home in San Rafael. By 1893 Dollar had established a mill and lumbering business at Usal in Mendocino County, and shortly thereafter embarked upon his shipping career with the purchase of the steam schooner Newsboy, used to transport lumber to coastal markets. In 1901 he bought his first large steamer. In 1903 he and his three sons -A. Melville, J. Harold, and R. Stanley -incorporated their lumbering and shipping interests into one parent company, The Robert Dollar Company.

Frequent trips to the Far East starting in 1902 convinced Dollar of the need for development of foreign trade across the Pacific. Each year he increased the number of ships carrying lumber and freight to Japan, China, Singapore. etc. He and his wife travelled widely to establish new offices and solicit new business in 1910 the Dollar Steamship Lines was incorporated to control the growing fleet. In 1924 the Round-the-World Dollar Line was established. Other divisions of The Robert Dollar Company included the Dollar Portland Lumber Company, the Admiral Oriental Line, American Mail Line Ltd., Globe Wireless Ltd., Egmont Timber Company, and Heintz and Kaufman Ltd.

Dollar remained active until several weeks before his death in 1932. Control of the company went to his sons. A. Melville Dollar died several weeks after his father and J. Harold Dollar, in 1936. R. Stanley Dollar then headed the company until his death in 1958. Today R. Stanley, Jr., J. Harold, Jr., and Robert Dollar II continue the business which again consists primarily of lumber operations.

About the diary: Privately printed by the author in 1912 and titled, Private Diary of Robert Dollar on His Recent Visits to China, the Philippine Diary Project has used only those entries related to the author’s visit to the Philippines, November 28 to December 25, 1911.