Rockefeller Family

To view updates


 Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island. (Nelson Rockefeller was named after Aldrich, his maternal grandfather.)

Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller (July 8, 1908 January 26, 1979) was an American businessman and politician. He served as the 41st Vice President of the United States under President Gerald Ford from 1974 to 1977, and previously as the 49th Governor of New York. He also served in the administrations of Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower. A member of the wealthy Rockefeller family, he was also a noted art collector, as well as administrator of Rockefeller Center.

Rockefeller was born in 1908 in Bar Harbor, Maine. He was the second son of financier and philanthropist John Davison Rockefeller Jr. and philanthropist and socialite Abigail Greene "Abby" Aldrich. He had a sister, Abby (190376); and four brothers: John III (190678), Laurance (19102004), Winthrop (191273), and David (19152017). Their father John Jr. was the only son of Standard Oil co-founder John Davison Rockefeller Sr. and schoolteacher Laura Celestia "Cettie" Spelman. Their mother Abby was a daughter of Senator Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich and Abigail Pearce Truman "Abby" Chapman. Rockefeller received his elementary, middle and high school education at the Lincoln School, an experimental school administered by Teachers College of Columbia University. In 1930 he graduated cum laude with an A.B. in economics from Dartmouth College, where he was a member of Casque and Gauntlet (a senior society), Phi Beta Kappa, and the Zeta chapter of the Psi Upsilon.

John Davison Rockefeller Jr. (January 29, 1874 May 11, 1960) was an American financier and philanthropist who was a prominent member of the Rockefeller family. He was the only son among the five children of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller and the father of the five famous Rockefeller brothers. In biographies, he is commonly referred to as "Junior" to distinguish him from his father, "Senior".

Rockefeller was the fifth and last child of Standard Oil co-founder John Davison Rockefeller Sr. (18391937) and schoolteacher Laura Celestia "Cettie" Spelman (18391915). His four older sisters were Elizabeth (Bessie) (18661906), Alice (who died an infant) (18691870), Alta (18711962), and Edith (18721932). Living in his father's mansion at 4 West 54th Street he attended Park Avenue Baptist Church at 64th Street (now Central Presbyterian Church), and the Browning School, a tutorial establishment set up for him and other children of associates of the family; it was located in a brownstone owned by the Rockefellers, on West 55th Street. His father John Sr. and uncle William Avery Rockefeller Jr. (18411922) co-founded Standard Oil together.
Initially he had intended to go to Yale University but was encouraged by William Rainey Harper, president of the University of Chicago, among others, to enter the Baptist-oriented Brown University instead. Nicknamed "Johnny Rock" by his roommates, he joined both the Glee and the Mandolin Clubs, taught a Bible class and was elected junior class president. Scrupulously careful with money, he stood out as different from other rich men's sons.[1]

Laura Celestia Spelman was born in Wadsworth, Ohio to Puritan descendant Harvey Buell Spelman (September 15, 1811 October 11, 1881) and Lucy Henry (February 28, 1818 September 7, 1897), Yankees who had moved to Ohio from Massachusetts. Harvey was an abolitionist who was active in the Congregationalist Church, the Underground Railroad, and in politics. The Spelmans eventually moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Spelman had an elder adopted sister, Lucy Maria "Lute" Spelman (c. 1837 February 6, 1920). In Cleveland, Lute and Spelman met John Davison Rockefeller while attending accounting classes together. He was the eldest son of con artist William Avery "Bill" Rockefeller (18101906) and Eliza Davison (18131889). They had five children; Elizabeth ("Bessie") (August 23, 1866 November 14, 1906), Alice (July 14, 1869 August 20, 1870), Alta (April 12, 1871 June 21, 1962), Edith (August 31, 1872 August 25, 1932), and John Jr. (January 29, 1874 May 11, 1960). She later returned to New England to attend Oread Institute, with plans to become a schoolteacher. After returning to Ohio to teach, she married John in 1864. Following her wedding, Spelman remained active in the church (she joined Rockefeller's congregation, the Northern Baptists) and with her family. Once the family business, Standard Oil, began to take off, she further devoted her time to philanthropy and her children.
Throughout their lives, the Rockefeller family continued to donate ten percent of their income to charity, including substantial donations to Spelman College. Spelman died on March 12, 1915 at age 75 of a heart attack, at the family estate Kykuit in Pocantico Hills, New York.

John Davison Rockefeller III was born in New York on March 21, 1906 to philanthropists John Davison Rockefeller Jr. (18741960) and Abigail Greene "Abby" Aldrich (18741948). He had four younger brothers, Nelson, Winthrop, Laurance, and David, and an elder sister, Abby. Through his father, he was a grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John Davison Rockefeller Sr. and schoolteacher Laura Celestia "Cettie" Spelman. Through his mother, he was a grandson of Senator Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich and Abigail Pearce Truman "Abby" Chapman. He received his preparatory education at the Browning School in New York City and the Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, Connecticut, in 1925. He went to Princeton University where he received high honors in economics and graduated in 1929 with the degree of Bachelor of Science, choosing industrial relations as the subject of his senior thesis. His interest in industrial relations stemmed from the family's role in the Ludlow Massacre, in which strikebreakers and security guards killed women and children of miners striking against the Rockefeller-controlled Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. Rockefeller's father worked to restore the family's public reputation by championing industrial relations and the work of William Lyon Mackenzie King, a pioneer in the field.

On November 11, 1932, he married the socially connected Blanchette Ferry Hooker (19091992), who was to serve as chairman of the Asian Cultural Council from 1980 to 1990, and who established the Blanchette H. Rockefeller Fellowship Fund, in Japan. They had one son and three daughters:
Sandra Ferry Rockefeller
John Davison "Jay" Rockefeller IV - a former U.S. Senator from West Virginia and a former two-term governor of that state
Hope Aldrich Rockefeller
Alida Ferry Rockefeller
John Davison Rockefeller III was killed in an automobile accident in Mount Pleasant, New York (near the Rockefeller family estate in Pocantico), on July 10, 1978, at the age of 72.[5] He was buried at the Rockefeller Family Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.