John D. Rockefeller’s Amazing Biography – How He Got Rich

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John Davison Rockefeller was one of the wealthiest men in the world. John started from scratch as he was born on 8 July 1839, in Richford, NewYork, into a family with modest earnings. He was the second to the eldest child. William Avery Rockefeller, His father, had a farm and used the produce for trading. His mother, Eliza Davison, was very strict in terms of raising them up. It is very dissimilar with his happy-go-lucky father. In 1853, his family migrated to Cleveland, Ohio after residing in Oswego, New York for many years. John finished his secondary education in Ohio. He was excellent in mathematics. At an early age, he started selling sweets to the children in his hometown. John Rockefeller went to college for only three months. Then, he had his first occupation as a clerk when he was 16 years old.

John as a Bookkeeper

In 1855, John at 16 years old, was employed as a subordinate bookkeeper in a produce commission company named Hewitt & Tuttle. He was skilled in calculations, including computation of transportation expenses. His salary was only about 50 cents per day. He was able to save $1000 from his meager earnings. With his savings, John built his own company, together with a partner, in 1859. He was 19 years old at that time. They earned $450,000, net of operating expenses, for their first year in the trading industry. Maurice Clark, his partner, was assigned to do fieldwork while Rockefeller took care of the paperwork, administration, accounting, and coordination with the bankers.

John D. Rockefeller in 1885, source: The Rockefeller Archive Center

Business Expansion

Rockefeller excelled in administration and methodology. Throughout the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, their company flourished amidst the conflict between the Confederates, representing the South, and the Union, representing the Northern forces. In 1859, Clark and Rockefeller explored the possibility of investing in oil refining together with Samuel Andrews during the oil strike in Pennsylvania. Andrews was also good in the field of methodology. After two years, Maurice Clark left the company. The company was left to the care of Rockefeller and Andrews, and grew to be the biggest oil refinery in Cleveland.
John Rockefeller’s astute leadership helped the company survive the oil industry crisis with the help of S.V. Harkness and Henry M. Flagler. John opened his Standard Oil Company in 1870 in Ohio. It controlled one-tenth of the refining companies in America. To be able to expand and dominate the oil industry, he acquired the majority ownership of the refining companies in Cleveland, New York, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. He developed modern ways of transporting oil such as using the railroad tank car and using a pipeline. In 1879, he was able to control 90 percent of oil refineries. The Standard Oil Company also had its own facilities, warehouses, tank car fleet, ship, and porting facilities.


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