A Classification of American Wealth
History and genealogy of the wealthy families of America - Sponsors


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 Part 3 : America in the Twentieth Century  Encyclopedia of American Wealth

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  Encyclopedia of American Wealth > Profiles of wealthy Americans [ A-C ] [ D-H ] [ I-M ] [ N-Z ]

 Rockefeller Family

 John Davison Rockefeller ( 1839-1937 ) of Kykuit, Pocantico Hills and New York City, New York

 Parents :  William Avery Rockefeller and  Eliza Davison
 Married :  Laura Celestia Spelman (1839-1915)
 Children :     Elizabeth "Bessie" (Rockefeller) Strong (1866-1906)
    Alice (1869-1870)
    Alta (Rockefeller) Prentice (1871-1962)
    Edith (Rockefeller) McCormick (1872-1932)
    John Davison Rockefeller jr (1874-1960)

 Fortune :
  570,000,000   F  $

  1975 

  26,500,000   E  $

  1937 

  480,000,000   F  $

  1925 

  1,200,000,000     $

  1918 

 900,000,000     $

 1916 

  250,000,000     $

  1900 

  100,000,000     $

  1889 

  2,000,000     $

  1875 

 Activity : Oil & Gas
 Main property : Standard Oil Company and its offsprings (after 1920 held mostly by his philanthropic foundations)
 Other activities : railroads, coal mines, utilities, banking, …
 Associated properties : Chicago, Milwaukee & St.Paul RR; Delaware, Lackawanna & Western RR; Western Maryland RR; Colorado & Souther RR; Missouri Pacific RR; Missouri, Kansas & Texas RR; Atchison, Topeka & Santa fe RR; Baltimore & Ohio RR; Wheeling & Lake Erie RR; Union Pacific RR; Pennsylvania RR; …; Colorado Fuel & Iron Co; Consolidation Coal Co; Consolidated Gas Co (NY); Equitable Trust Co; American Linseed Co

Biographical sketch :

Born into a family where a devout Baptist mother sheltered her children from their abusive bigamist father, John Davison Rockefeller learned to bear responsibility at an early age. After schooling at Central High School of Cleveland and a short commercial course at Folsom, John D. Rockefeller got his first job as assistant bookkeeper of Hewitt & Tuttle, commission merchants on Merwin Street, Cleveland. There he learnt the trade and in 1859, he was able to start his own mercantile business, in association with Maurice B. Clark. Clark & Rockefeller prospered during Civil War, thanks to lucrative contracts to supply the Union armies. In 1863, the partners backed Samuel Andrews in the erection of an oil refinery at Cleveland. In these days, Rockefeller visited the oil regions and was appalled by the anarchic conditions he found there. He nevertheless stuck to his share in the oil refinery and in 1965 bought out the Clark brothers, paying with his share in the commission business and 72'500 $. The firm of Rockefeller & Andrews soon found additional capital from Henry Morrison Flagler and his wealthy relative Stephen Vanderburgh Harkness. Together with Rockefellers brother William and the latter’s brother-in-law Oliver Burr Jennings, these men made up the original founders of the Standard Oil Company of Ohio, which emerged from their refining business in 1870. Standard Oil then was only one of many refineries in Cleveland, albeit a well endowed and profitable one. Through the South Improvement scheme Rockefeller and his partners get special rebates from railroads as well as kickbacks for oil carried for non-participating firms. A scandal arose around these unfair practices and the scheme was put to an end in 1972. But by that time Standard Oil had increased its capital to $ 2.5 million, merged with Clark & Payne and acquired 18 refineries in Cleveland. Now firmly controlling the refining capacity of Cleveland, John D. Rockefeller extended the Standard Oil’s influence on the other refining centers, New York, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, bringing in such major players as Pratt, Rogers, Warden, Lockhart, Vandergrift and John Dustin Archbold from the oil regions. By 1882, when the Standard Oil Trust was officially created with a capital of $ 70 million, the firm controlled 95% of America’s oil refining capacity as well as the essential part of the country’s pipeline systems. John Davison Rockefeller owned about 25% of the capital of Standard Oil, which in the years following the trust agreement became one of the most profitable business enterprises in the world. Because of health problems, he retired from active business in 1892, but remained a director of the various Standard Oil companies for many more years. Heavily criticized for his role in building the oil trust, John Davison Rockefeller succeeded Jay Gould as America’s most hated millionaire. Always generous to causes which suited his Baptist education, John Davison Rockefeller devoted his later years to repair his image by large scale philanthropies. He left his business in the able hands of his lieutenant John D. Archbold and groomed his son John Davison Rockefeller jr for the administration of the Rockefeller foundations, to which he left about half of his large fortune, the first billion dollar accumulation in American history. From his marriage to Laura Celestia Spelman, Rockefeller also had three daughters. He built himself a country estate “Kykuit” in the Pocantico Hills of New York, with ample space for his family to settle around it

Links :

>> John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Company
from Francois Micheloud

>> John D. Rockefeller - biography
at The Rockefeller Archive Center / A Division of Rockefeller University

Books :
Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.  Titan - The Life of John D. Rockefeller sr 
 
Author        : Ron Chernow
 Publisher    :
Random House, 1998
The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J. P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy  The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J. P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy 
 
Author        : Charles R. Morris
 Publisher    :
Times Books, 2005
Dear Father/Dear Son: Correspondence of John D. Rockefeller and John D. Rockefeller, Jr.  Dear Father / Dear Son : Correspondence of John D. Rockefeller and John D. Rockefeller jr 
 
Author        : John D. Rockefeller, Joseph W. Ernst (editor)
 Publisher    :
Fordham University Press, 1994
John D. Rockefeller: Anointed with Oil  John D. Rockefeller : Anointed with Oil 
 
Author        : Grant Segall
 Publisher    :
Oxford University Press, 2001

 John D. Rockefeller : Richest Man Ever (Giants of American Industry) 
 
Author        : Ellen Greenman Coffey
 Publisher    :
Blackbirch Marketing, 2001

  Search at BN : Out of Print, Used & Rare 

 The Rockefellers - An American Dynasty 
 
Author        : Peter Collier and David Horowitz
 Publisher    :
Summit Books, 1976

  Search at BN : Out of Print, Used & Rare 

 The Myth of the Robber Barons 
 
Author        : Burton W. Folsom jr
 Publisher    :
Young America's Foundation, 1996

  Search at BN : Out of Print, Used & Rare 

 John D. : the Founding Father of the Rockefellers 
 
Author        : David Freeman Hawke
 Publisher    :
Harper & Row, 1987

  Search at BN : Out of Print, Used & Rare 

 Biographical Dictionary of American Business Leaders (4 volumes) 
 
Author        : John N. Ingham
 Publisher    :
Greenwood Press, 1983

  Search at BN : Out of Print, Used & Rare 

 John D. Rockefeller - The Heroic Age of American Enterprise - 2 Volumes 
 
Author        : Allan Nevins
 Publisher    :
Charles Scribner's Sons - New York, 1940

  Search at BN : Out of Print, Used & Rare 

 

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