Elbridge Stuart was born in Guilford County in 1856. At the start of the Civil War, Stuart, a Quaker, and his family moved to Indiana. At seventeen he began the study of medicine but soon decided a medical career was not for him. After holding various jobs, he opened his first general merchandise store in El Paso, Texas in 1881. It was while in Texas that he developed the idea which, in 1899, saw the creation of the firm that became the Carnation [evaporated milk] Company. He remained president of the company until 1932.