John D. Rockefeller was the son of a con artist but grew up to become one of the wealthiest men in history. John’s father known as Big Bill, or Devil Bill , would sell herbal medicine that claimed to cure everything from cancer to bad eyesight, get caught by his angry customers, and get released without being charged because he promised not to sell medicine again. John’s father would regularly cheat people and give false promises to pay them back, but John D. Rockefeller could not stand to see his father continue like this, because it was breaking John’s mother’s heart.
John D. was such a smart child that he helped keep the family together by working as a bookkeeper at the age of 12 years old. John quickly saved enough money from his job to pay back everyone his dad had swindled and told his parents they never needed to worry about money again so long as John was alive. At the age of 16 years old, John left home to start working for a much more reputable businessman named Hewitt and Tuttle who sold food and supplies during the days and steamboat passes on the side.
John was able to increase their oil trade by 375% and continued selling supplies during the day and steamboat passes at night. John had always been a hard worker, but he started becoming obsessed with work after his father would disappear for weeks leaving John to take care of John’s mother who suffered from occasional seizures brought on by an unknown illness. John would have to watch his mother suffer from her seizures, because John’s father refused to call for a doctor or nurse telling John that doctors were swindlers just like his dad.
One afternoon John was watching over his mother when she suddenly stopped breathing with foam coming out of her mouth, but just as he realized something was wrong with his, she suddenly regained consciousness with no memory of John having called a doctor. John never told anyone about what happened that day but to this day John’s friends suspect it was a seizure, for John became even more obsessed with work and spent days working away from home without rest.
John had saved enough money from his job to open his own business with Maurice B. Clark which they named the company Clark and Rockefeller, but their partnership proved to be difficult as John wanted all the hard work while Maurice enjoyed spending John’s share of their profits on high-end clothing. John would often complain about how he would do all the work, while Maurice would show up late or not at all only to sit down for dinner with John talking about how their latest sales went through the roof. Things got so bad that John once even threatened to kill Maurice for wasting John’s hard-earned money, but John could never bring himself to do it and just ended up smashing a window instead.
John was so angry at being exploited by Maurice that John told him he wanted their partnership dissolved immediately, and John would keep the name Clark and Rockefeller until 1913 when it was changed to John D. Rockefeller Company. The company proved very successful as people were spending a lot of money on kerosene lamps because they provided better light than candles or whale oil lamps. John had invested in railroad companies as well as copper mining businesses, but his most profitable investment turned out to be one where he leased land from local farmers then sold them back the right to drill for oil at prices John set.
John would often tell the farmers he talked with that they could make more money by leasing their land to John then if they were to sell their crops for themselves, but most of the time John just walked away after seeing that the farmer was not interested in anything John had to say. John’s friends would also tell John that he should drill for oil himself because by doing so John could control both aspects of the oil industry, but John did not listen and instead started drilling on someone else’s land without asking anyone first.
When John found out that there was a lot of oil under this person’s property he tried offering them more money than what they paid originally, but once again John walked away when it became clear the owner was not interested in John’s business. John decided to drill on someone else’s land and this time John was able to strike oil which he later named the Rockefeller Well. John made a lot of money from his new well, but John also started making enemies as many people felt abused by John because John would only sell them crude oil and not refined which was more expensive and harder to produce.
John could have avoided those conflicts if he had stuck with those who wanted their crops harvested instead of drilling for oil, but John now saw how lucrative doing it another way could be and started purchasing wells all over Pennsylvania ignoring how much money he invested into buying up all those wells as well as the equipment needed to drill for oil. John became so rich that people compared John to John D. Rockefeller because John was buying up property, farmland and oil wells like John D. Rockefeller would buy up railroads and copper mines.
John himself started using John D. Rockefeller as his own first name even though John was not actually related to John D. Rockefeller, but truth be told John started telling people he was a relative of John D. Rockefeller just so he could get rich businessmen to respect him more than they already did. When asked about his connection to John D. Rockefeller, John would tell reporters that there was no family relationship between the two men despite the fact that other associates stated clearly that John’s father William Avery Rockefeller had an older brother named David who married a woman by the last name of Davison which John D. Rockefeller’s wife was also named.
John may have been telling the truth when he said he had no connection to John D. Rockefeller, but John did get his business decisions from someone else in John’s family. John would often make plans with Maurice Clark before making any big decision, and John often went along with whatever it was that Maurice told him to do because John trusted everything that came out of Maurice’s mouth despite the fact that most people saw Maurice as a liar who could not be trusted even by John himself.
Maurice Clark took advantage of John more than anyone else ever did, but the only person who ever got upset at how much money John was giving away without caring about how much he ended up losing because of it was John’s father William Avery Rockefeller. John loved his father and respected whatever his father said, but John did not listen to William when it came to business decisions.
John was loved by the people he bought the property from for giving them more than they originally wanted for their land or wells: John would often pay 3 times what a piece of property was worth just so John could get all the land surrounding that one piece of property under John’s control. This enabled John to sell water rights to other refiners at prices John set without worrying about anyone else drilling on those lands anytime soon because John had already purchased every single oil well surrounding those properties.