John Davison Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller was born in 1837 at his parents farm near Richford, New York.

In addition to farming, his father also pursued a somewhat mysterious career as a seller of elixers and patent medicines. His mother was from a farming family in rural New York and reared her children along strict Calvinist lines. When he was 14, he went to Cleveland, Ohio which was then a boom town, where he attended high school. One school chum with whom he formed a lasting friendship was Mark Hanna, later a senator and known as a kingmaker in national politics.

Rockefeller went to work in Cleveland and then became a partner in a business. By the time the first oil well was drilled at Titusville Pennsylvania, he was ready to capitalize by investing in the railways that would haul the oil. This was the beginning of Standard Oil.

He also came to own mines and timberlands throughout the Appalachian Region. While in Cleveland he became a Baptist. He also married and founded what would be an American dynasty. Rockefeller was one of the wealthiest men in an age of huge fortunes. He was also one of the first to donate much of his wealth to philanthropy, nearly 450,000,00 dollars in his lifetime.

He died in 1937 and was succeeded by John D. Rockefeller Jr., whose sons later came to control the family fortune, the philanthropic and eductional bequests, and ultimately much of the direction of policy and culture in the United States.