There’s rich, then there’s Rockefella rich. John D. Rockefella is widely renowned as the wealthiest man in modern history with an estimated fortune of £340 Billion in today’s money according to Forbes. He lived a very long and very incredible life from 1839-1937, making his eye-watering fortune from the oil industry. His reputation ranged from being a true philanthropist to monopolizing the oil industry but what you cant disagree with is that he is a true Trailblazer. Here we look at 7 things you probably didn’t know about the American.
Starting in his 40’s, Rockefella lost all the hair on his head, his body and even his moustache. Unfortunately his hair never grew back and in the early 1900’s he started to wear wigs of various lengths to give the impression his hair was growing.
Rockefella wasn’t a huge fan of birthdays despite experiencing many of them. Rockefella lived until he was 97 years old, a very long time even by today’s standards. In fact, when he turned 96 his insurance company had to pay him $5 million, the face value of his life insurance policy.
Raised by his deeply religious mother, Rockefella gave 10% of his earnings to his local church, right from his very first paycheck. Upon retiring from Standard Oil in 1897, began to donate even more giving away over half a billion dollars to various scientific, religious and educational causes. In 1913 he set up the Rockefella Foundation to ‘promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world.’
William Avery Rockefella, his father, was a travelling salesman who pretended to be a deaf-mute peddler selling ‘miracle drugs’ and herbal remedies. He was nicknamed ‘Devil Bill’ and also lived a double life, posing as an eye and ear specialist called Dr William Levingston, he even secretly married another woman in 1855.
Rockefella like many was due to serve the Union in the civil war of 1863. Then 23 years old, he did what many men of means had done, he paid for someone to serve on his behalf. Unusually this was actually allowed by the government. No record exists of the man who served on his behalf. His brother Frank actually chose to serve at 16 years old after he lied about his age. During the war he was wounded but survived.
During the early 1900’s bomb threats were common to make a point against capitalism by radicals. Figures like J.P. Morgan & Rockefella were particularly targeted. It has been said that in the case of Rockefella, he was targeted for his family’s supposed role in the Ludlow Massacre in Colorado. Several miners on strike including children were killed during the conflict with the Colorado National Guard. Thankfully for Rockefella, the would-be assassins didn’t make it to his home because on 4 July 1914 an explosion killed several potential anarchists who had been storing dynamite for the purpose of leaving it at Rockefellar’s doorstep.
Rockefella often travelled by ferry from his hometown of Tarryton across the Hudson River into New York. On most occasions when his ferry docked he would be greeted by a swarm of children. Rockefella would hand out dimes to several of the children and adults. Reports suggest that he did this to instill habits of savings and thrift in people.