Business History

The World’s First Billionaire: John D Rockefeller

John D Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller was a successful businessman who became the first billionaire of America in 1916. Rockefeller created a Standard Oil Company in 1870, and that oil industry became a dominant monopoly by 1882.

Early Years of his journey

John D. Rockefeller was born on July 8, 1839, in New York. When he was 14 years old, his father moved to Cleveland with his family. John was very hard-working and started many small businesses in his teenage. He was appointed as an assistant bookkeeper with Tuttle and Hewitt at the age of only 16 years. 

Rockefeller made much progress by the age of 20 and worked with a business partner and started working as a commission merchant in meats, grains, hay, and other goods. He earned almost $450000 by the end of the company’s first year!

Rockefeller was a very careful and great businessman who did not take unnecessary risks in business; that’s why he was a successful person! In the early 1860s, he found an opportunity in the oil industry, and he took full advantage of that opportunity. John decided to start an oil refinery near Cleveland that was on a very short distance from Pittsburgh. His plan came true in 1863 when he began his oil refinery. Due to his full-time attention to the oil business, the oil refinery became the largest one in the town within two years.

Establishment of Standard Oil Industry

Rockefeller and his associate’s plan for adding the Standard Oil Company got succeeded. All became possible due to Rockefeller’s campaign to improve company operations and favorable economic conditions. After this incredible experience, they started buying their competitors.

The plan worked great, and within two years, they started controlling the majority of oil refineries of the Cleveland area. After a few years, this oil company became the largest oil company in the region. Taking advantage of its company size and success rate, they started dealing with railroads to ship the oil. Simultaneously, they started purchasing terminals and pipelines to set up a complete transport system for their products. Through these approaches, Standard controlled each aspect of their business and competed with their competitors with high margins. They bought thousands of acres and started drilling.

Started became the most substantial oil company as it bought all the competitors of their area, and they were struggling to ship oil outside the United States. After a few years, Standard had the near-monopoly of the oil business in the United States. Rockefeller stabled each division and done everything to be the first monopoly of America. 

Wealth and Net Income before Death

Rockefeller was a famous businessperson and remembered as the first billionaire of America. Rockefeller’s wealth was almost $200 million in the audit report of 1902 that continued significantly. During the First World War, Rockefeller’s worth had increased to 900 million dollars as he was getting more success in the shipping, mining, oil, baking, and other industries.   However, he got a great revenue from his Standard Oil Company. At his time of death, Rockefeller’s net worth was almost $340 billion

Rockefeller as Philanthropist

John D. Rockefeller was trained to help charity people since his childhood. As we know, he was the wealthiest person of his time, but he kept a low social profile. With great success in his oil refinery business, he started to help people with millions of dollars. He contributed $35 million in 20 years for the establishment of the University of Chicago.

Rockefeller created General Education Board that distributed 325 million dollars all over the school and colleges in America. He donated 100 million dollars to NGOs, medical research foundations, arts, health, and other fields globally.

Marriage and Children

On September 8, 1864, Rockefeller married Laura Spellman, acting as an assistant principal at marriage time. Laura was the daughter of one of the successful businessmen in Cleveland.

The couple was blessed with five children named Alice, Edith, Elizabeth, John D. Rockefeller junior, and Alta. Due to a large family, Rockefeller purchased a wide and beautiful house in Cleveland.

As we discussed, most of the business was in New York, so Rockefeller had to stay in New York, and he did not want to stay away from his family. Due to this reason, he bought a new house in New York.

When Rockefeller became a grandparent, they decided to build a house in New York’s Pocantico Hills. They spent golden time there, such as their last wedding anniversary. During the spring of 1915, his wife passed away. 


During the last year before his death, he enjoyed every moment of his life. He spent his time with his children and grandchildren also fulfilled the craze of golf, gardening, and landscaping.

Rockefeller could not complete the century and died two years before the century. On May 23, 1937, he died, and he laid between the mother and wife in Cleveland, Ohio.


John D. Rockefeller was the first billionaire of America. He had a great business mind which a lot of ideas. He started his journey when he was only 14 years old, and after that, he worked hard and smart to achieve his goal. He dreamed of availing an opportunity and created an oil refinery that became one of the largest oil refineries in America. He married Laura Spellman and got five children. On May 23, 1937, he died and was laid at the Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.

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