John D. Rockefeller (1839 - 1937)

Feb 23, 2007 | Posted in Essays, People

John D. Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller

One of the most famous and sometimes hated names of the oil industry was that of John D. Rockefeller. His ventures in the business world began with a shipping company which he and his partner, Maurice Clark, began in Cleveland, Ohio.

Rockefeller eventually bought out Clark and business boomed. He also invested in the refining of oil. Gradually, he pushed or bought out smaller refineries in Ohio and Pennsylvania. His desire was not only to acquire the smaller businesses for financial gain, but also to standardize oil products. With so many small refineries, the quality of the products was often poor. By buying up small companies. Rockefeller sought to control the quality of the oil.

In 1870 he formed the Standard Oil Company of Ohio, his goal being to establish a Standard Oil Co. in each state. In 1911, however, the United States Supreme Court saw Standard Oil and its companies as a monopoly in the oil industry and broke it up into separate, competing companies.

Rockefeller's family is well known for creating and founding many institutions designed to help others like the Rockefeller Foundation, Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, and the University of Chicago.

Note: The 1911 U.S. Supreme Court break-up of the Standard Oil Company came about partly because of Ida Tarbell's expose of the company in the early 1900's. Her scathing report was probably the reason John D. was heard to refer to Miss Tarbell as Miss Tar Barrel.


Academic American Encyclopedia 1985. Grobier Inc., Danbury, Connecticut Yergin, Daniel, The Prize. Simon and Schuster, New York, New York, 1991

Reprinted Courtesy of the Venango Museum of Art, Science and Industry