5 Facts You Should Know About John Rockefeller

On January 10, 1870, John D. Rockefeller and a handful of partners incorporated Standard Oil Company, he largest oil refinery in the world of its time. Here are 5 things you didn't know about America’s first billionaire...


Rockefeller Was the First American Billionaire John D. Rockefeller was the first person in history to amass a personal fortunate of $1 billion. He didn’t stop there though; he continued to build on his already staggering wealth until it peaked at $1.5 billion after his retirement. When he died, in 1937, his net worth was estimated at around $1.4 billion, with the majority of the cash tied up in family trust funds. By the standards of the 21st century, that amounts to about $336 billion, which would earn Rockefeller a spot as the richest man in American history. That’s much higher net worth than Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon.

He Hired Substitute Soldiers to Avoid The Civil War Rockefeller made it clear that he supported abolition but did not serve in the Civil War, and hired substitute soldiers to take his place, which was common in those days for people who had money. He said he wanted to serve in the military during the war but could not because his family was dependent on the money he made in his business. The business in question was commodities, from which Rockefeller made enough war profit that he was able to begin building his oil company.


He Enjoyed Handing Out Dimes To Children Rockefeller carried around a bag of fresh, handing them out to everyone he met, especially children.  Rockefeller loved seeing the happiness the dime brought to children and counseled them to put their money into savings. The gift served as a token and a good-luck piece. It’s estimated that John D. gave away about $35,000 in dimes over his lifetime. He even gave dimes as a playful gesture to men like tire mogul Harvey Firestone and President Herbert Hoover. 

He Celebrated His Own Personal Holiday .On September 26, 1855, a Cleveland merchant company, Hewitt and Tuttle, hired the teenaged Rockefeller as an assistant bookkeeper. From that year forward, the corporate tycoon celebrated “job day” every September 26 to commemorate his entrance into the business world, and he considered the date more important than his birthday. “All my future seemed to hinge on that day,” he reminisced later in his life, “and I often tremble when I ask myself the question: ‘What if I had not got the job?’”

Spelman College Bears The Maiden Name of Rockefeller’s Wife In addition to giving millions to help found the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University, the industrialist in 1882 began to donate money to the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary. Two years later, the African-American women’s school changed its name to Spelman Seminary in honor of his wife, Laura, and her parents, Harvey Buel and Lucy Henry Spelman, who were longtime abolitionists. In 1924, the institution was renamed Spelman College.