Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: John D. Rockefeller

John Davison Rockefeller, Sr. (1839–1937) was an industrialist considered to be the richest American and richest person in modern history. He founded the Standard Oil Company and once controlled 90 percent of all oil in the United States, with a peak net worth of $900 million (around $420 billion today). In retrospect, his obelisk in Cleveland, Ohio’s Lake View Cemetery seems like a humble monument. In his personal life, he was a devout Baptist and teetotaler who married Laura Celestia “Cettie” Spelman, an abolitionist, in 1864. He also founded the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University.

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