John Davison Rockefeller, the richest man in U.S. history, was a businessman and philanthropist. He was born in 1839 in Richford, New York and married Laura Spelman in 1864. The couple had five children: Elizabeth, Alice, Alta, Edith and John Davison, Jr., although Alice died in infancy. His grandson Nelson served as governor of New York and as vice president under Gerald Ford. Some of his notable contemporaries were Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan and Thomas Edison.
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2. Income & Salary
Rockefeller founded Standard Oil in Cleveland in 1870. At the end of the decade, his company refined 90 percent of the nation‰Ûªs oil. By streamlining production and keeping prices low, he edged out the competition and became a millionaire in his early 30‰Ûªs. Aside from refining oil for fuel, he produced tar, petroleum jelly, paint and chewing gum. Rockefeller‰Ûªs legacy is also shaped by his extreme generosity. He gave lavish gifts for medical and scientific research. He strongly supported education, backing Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago and other schools. He also founded a college in Atlanta for young African-American women; it thrives today as Spelman College. By the time he died, just before his 98th birthday, he had donated well over $500 million.
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3. Estimated Net Worth
Standard Oil was dissolved in 1911. The resulting, smaller companies grew, however. Rockefeller became the world‰Ûªs first billionaire in 1916. ExxonMobil, Chevron and Pennzoil are just of few of Standard Oil‰Ûªs descendents. ExxonMobil was ranked wealthiest in the industry by a wide margin in 2013. A year later, it was worth upwards of $389 billion. Trailing closely behind Apple and Google, it is the third-richest company in the world. Rockefeller‰Ûªs surviving family members number around 200. They have a collective worth of $10 billion and carry on his charitable work. Upon his death in 1937, Rockefeller was worth an estimated $340 billion in today‰Ûªs dollars‰ÛÓmore than four times the wealth of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
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