Famous Veterans: Charles Walgreen

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Charles Walgreen, who built a fortune through a chain of drugstores, fought in the Spanish-American War.
Charles Walgreen, who built a fortune through a chain of drugstores, fought in the Spanish-American War. (Charles Krupa/AP File Photo)

Born in Knox County, Illinois, on Oct. 9, 1873, Charles Walgreen lost part of a finger in an accident at a shoe factory. The doctor who treated him persuaded him to become an apprentice for a local druggist. In 1893, Walgreen went to Chicago and became a registered pharmacist.

At the start of the Spanish-American War, Walgreen enlisted with the 1st Illinois Volunteer Cavalry. While serving in Cuba, he contracted malaria and yellow fever, which continued to plague him for the rest of his life.

After his discharge, Walgreen returned to Chicago and worked as a pharmacist for Isaac Blood. When Blood retired, Walgreen bought the store from him. He soon acquired other stores and built his famous chain of pharmacies -- Walgreens.

Walgreen introduced several new innovations into the drugstore industry: lunch counters, soda fountains and malted milk. By 1927, Walgreen had established 110 stores.

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