Reference Work Entry

International Encyclopedia of Civil Society

pp 1330-1331

Rockefeller, John D., Sr.

  • Alicia SchortgenAffiliated withUniversity of Texas at Dallas

Basic Biographical Information

John Davidson Rockefeller (JDR) was an ardent entrepreneur and savvy philanthropist who strongly influenced civil society in America. Rockefeller was born on a small family farm in Richford, New York on July 8, 1839. One of William A. and Eliza Davidson Rockefeller’s six children, JDR, and his family lived modestly in their rural, upstate New York community until they moved to Strongsville, Ohio in 1853. Rockefeller left Cleveland’s Central High School in 1855 to take a business course at Folsom Mercantile College. He completed the 6 months training in 10 weeks and went on to work as a bookkeeper for Hewitt & Tuttle. Rockefeller married Laura C. Spelman in Cleveland on September 8, 1864. The couple had four daughters and one son; Bessie, Alice, Alta, Edith, and John Jr.

In 1859, with $1,000 of his own savings and $1,000 he borrowed from his father, JDR formed a commission merchant partnership with Maurice B. Clark. Interested i ...

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