Home > Items We Want to Buy > 'Standard Oil Trust (low serial number #125) signed by John. D. Rockefeller, Charles Pratt (twice), Charles Millard Pratt, Henry M. Flagler and Jabez Abel Bostwick - 1882 - SOLD
Pratt became an advocate of education, and founded and endowed the Pratt Institute which bears his name. He and his children built mansions on what became known as the Gold Coast of Long Island, New York. In 1916, Standard Oil had a steamship tanker, S.S. Charles Pratt, first of its class, built at Newport News, Virginia.
Charles Pratt was born in Watertown, Massachusetts, one of eleven children. His father, Asa Pratt, was a carpenter. Of modest means, he spent three winters as a student at Wesleyan Academy, and is said to have lived on a dollar a week at times.
In nearby Boston, Massachusetts, Pratt joined a company specializing in paints and whale oil products. In 1850 or 1851, he came to New York City, where he worked for a similar company.
Pratt recognized the potential replacement of whale oil with natural oil for lighting purposes, and became a pioneer of the natural oil industry as new wells were established in western Pennsylvania in the 1860s. He soon established his kerosene refinery Astral Oil Works in Brooklyn, New York. Pratt's product later gave rise to the slogan, "The holy lamps of Tibet are primed with Astral Oil."
In the mid-1860s, Pratt met two aspiring young men, Charles Ellis and Henry H. Rogers in the area of the new oil fields of Venango County in western Pennsylvania. Previously, Pratt had bought whale oil from Charles Ellis in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, the young men's coastal hometown. They struck a deal and pre sold the entire output of their small venture, Wamsutta Oil Refinery, at McClintocksville near Oil City to Pratt's company at a fixed price.
However, a flaw in the arrangement was that Ellis and Rogers had no wells and were dependent upon purchasing crude oil to refine and sell to Pratt. A few months later, crude oil prices suddenly increased due to manipulation by speculators. The young entrepreneurs struggled to try to live up to their fixed price contract with Pratt, but soon their surplus of funds was wiped out. Before long, they were heavily in debt to Pratt.
Charles Ellis gave up, but in 1866, Henry Rogers went to Pratt in New York City and told him he would take personal responsibility for the entire debt. This so impressed Pratt that he immediately hired him for his own organization. Pratt made Rogers foreman of his Brooklyn refinery, with a promise of a partnership if sales ran over fifty thousand dollars a year. Rogers, his wife Abbie, and their baby Anne moved to the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.
The Rogers family continued to live frugally and young Henry worked very hard. Abbie brought his meals to the "works", and often he would sleep but three hours a night rolled up in a blanket by the side of a still. Rogers moved steadily from foreman to manager, and then superintendent of Pratt's Astral Oil Refinery. True to his word, Pratt soon gave Rogers an interest in the business. In 1867, with Henry Rogers as a partner, he established the firm of Charles Pratt and Company. In the next few year Rogers became, in the words of Elbert Hubbard, Pratt's "hands and feet and eyes and ears" (Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Businessmen, 1909).
Henry M. Flagler
Henry Morrison Flagler was born on January 2, 1830 in Hopewell, New York to Reverend Isaac and Elizabeth Caldwell Harkness Flagler. At the age of 14, after completing the eighth grade in 1844, Flagler decided to move to Bellevue, Ohio where he found work in the grain store of L.G. Harkness and Company at a salary of $5 per month plus room and board. By 1849, Flagler was promoted to sales staff of the company at a salary of $400 per month.
Flagler became a partner in the newly organized D. M. Harkness and Company with his half-brother, Dan Harkness in 1852. The following year, on November 9, he married Mary Harkness. On March 18, 1855, their first child, Jennie Louise, was born. Jennie Louise lived until 1889, when at the age of 34, she died following complications from child birth. A second child, Carrie, was born on June 18, 1858. She died three years later. On December 2, 1870, the Flaglers' only son, Harry Harkness Flagler, was born.
Flagler founded the Flagler and York Salt Company, a salt mining and production business in Saginaw, Michigan in 1862 with his brother-in-law Barney York. By 1865, the end of the Civil War caused a drop in the demand for salt and the Flagler and York Salt Company collapsed. Heavily in debt, Flagler returned to Bellevue, Ohio. He had lost his initial $50,000 investment and an additional $50,000 he had borrowed from his father-in-law and Dan Harkness.
The next year Flagler reentered the grain business as a commission merchant. Flagler had become acquainted with John D. Rockefeller, who worked as a commission agent with Hewitt and Tuttle for the Harkness Grain Company. By the mid 1860s, Cleveland had become the center of the oil refining industry in America and Rockefeller left the grain business to start his own oil refinery. In 1867, Rockefeller, needing capital for his new venture, approached Flagler. Flagler obtained $100,000 from a relative on the condition that Flagler be made a partner. A Rockefeller, Andrews and Flagler partnership was formed with Flagler in control of Harkness' interest.
On January 10, 1870, the Rockefeller, Andrews and Flagler partnership emerged as a joint-stock corporation named Standard Oil and by 1872, Standard Oil led the American oil refining industry, producing 10,000 barrels per day. Five years later Standard Oil moved its headquarters to New York City, and the Flaglers moved to their new home at 509 Fifth Avenue in New York City.
By 1878, Flagler's wife, who had always struggled with health problems, was very ill. On advice from Mary's physician, she and Flagler visited Jacksonville, Florida for the winter. Mary's illness grew worse, however, and she died on May 18, 1881 at age 47. Two years after Mary's death, Flagler married Ida Alice Shourds. Soon after their wedding, the couple traveled to St. Augustine, Florida where they found the city charming, but the hotel facilities and transportation systems inadequate. Flagler recognized Florida's potential to attract out-of-state visitors. Though Flagler remained on the Board of Directors of Standard Oil, he gave up his day-to-day involvement in the corporation in order to pursue his interests in Florida. He returned to St. Augustine in 1885 and began construction on the 540-room Hotel Ponce de Leon. Realizing the need for a sound transportation system to support his hotel ventures, Flagler purchased the Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Halifax Railroad, the first railroad in what would eventually become the Florida East Coast Railway.
The Hotel Ponce de Leon opened January 10, 1888 and was an instant success. Two years later, Flagler expanded his Florida holdings. He built a railroad bridge across the St. Johns River to gain access to the southern half of the state and purchased the Hotel Ormond, just north of Daytona. His personal dedication to the state of Florida was demonstrated when he began construction on his private residence, Kirkside, in St. Augustine.
Flagler completed the 1150-room Royal Poinciana Hotel on the shores of Lake Worth in Palm Beach and extended his railroad to West Palm Beach by 1894. The Royal Poinciana Hotel was at the time the largest wooden structure in the world. Two years later, Flagler built the Palm Beach Inn (renamed The Breakers in 1901) overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Palm Beach.
Flagler originally intended for West Palm Beach to be the terminus of his railroad system, but during 1894 and 1895, severe freezes hit the area, causing Flagler to rethink this original decision. Sixty miles south, the town today known as Miami was reportedly unharmed by the freeze. To further convince Flagler to continue the railroad to Miami, he was offered land from private landowners, the Florida East Coast Canal and Transportation Company, and the Boston and Florida Atlantic Coast Land Company, in exchange for laying rail tracks.
Flagler's railroad, renamed the Florida East Coast Railway in 1895, reached Biscayne Bay by 1896. Flagler dredged a channel, built streets, instituted the first water and power systems, and financed the town's first newspaper, the Metropolis. When the town incorporated in 1896, its citizens wanted to honor the man responsible for its growth by naming it "Flagler." He declined the honor, persuading them to use an old Indian name, "Miami". In 1897, Flagler opened the exclusive Royal Palm Hotel in Miami.
Flagler's second wife, Ida Alice, had been institutionalized for mental illness since 1895. In 1901, the Florida Legislature passed a bill that made incurable insanity grounds for divorce, opening the way for Flagler to remarry. On August 24, 1901, Flagler married Mary Lily Kenan and the couple soon moved into their Palm Beach estate, Whitehall. Built as a wedding present to Mary Lily in 1902 by architects John Carrere and Thomas Hastings, Whitehall was a 60,000 square foot, 55-room winter retreat that established the Palm Beach season for the wealthy of America's Gilded Age.
By 1905, Flagler decided that his Florida East Coast Railway should be extended from Biscayne Bay to Key West, a point 128 miles past the end of the Florida peninsula. At the time, Key West was Florida's most populated city and it was also the United States's closest deep water port to the canal that the U.S. government proposed to build in Panama. Flagler wanted to take advantage of additional trade with Cuba and Latin America as well as the increased trade with the west that the Panama Canal would bring. In 1912, the Florida Overseas Railroad was completed to Key West.
In 1913, Flagler fell down a flight of stairs at Whitehall. He never recovered from the fall and died of his injuries on May 20 at 84 years of age. He was buried in St. Augustine alongside his daughter, Jennie Louise and first wife, Mary Harkness.
Jabez Abel Bostwick
Early Oil Pioneer, Oil magnate with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil, father of Evelyn (Bostwick) Voronoff
"Mr. Bostwick was born in Franklin, New York, September 23, 1830, and was killed in a fire at his summer home at Mamaroneck, New York, August 16, 1892.
When he was a boy of ten years of age, his parents removed to Ohio where he passed his early years. His education, which was essentially of a business character, began when he was a clerk in a bank in Covington, Kentucky. Later he engaged in business as a cotton broker, and in 1864 located in New York City. He owned large cotton docks on Staten Island, where also he resided on a beautiful estate until 1877, when he purchased the property at Mamaroneck.
When the oil regions of western Pennsylvania began to be developed as a new source of wealth, Mr. Bostwick became interested in several wells near Franklin, Pennsylvania, and organized the firm of J. A. Bostwick and Company, oil refiners and shippers. In 1872, when John D. Rockefeller formed the Standard Oil Company, Mr. Bostwick aided in its organization and became its first Treasurer, and shortly afterward dissolved his connection with his partner, W. H. Tilford, who also became affiliated with the Standard Oil Company.
Thereafter, for many years Mr. Bostwick was the company's chief oil buyer, but in 1885 he retired from the oil business, and in 1886 was elected President of the New York and New England Railroad Company. He held this office until January, 1892. Only two weeks before his death he purchased a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.
In all his affairs Mr. Bostwick showed his great ability as a far-seeing organizer. He was of even temperament, striking personality, and great charm, a sound judge of character, so that he became a model for the younger generation of Standard Oil men. He was the friend and adviser of Presidents Grant, Hays and Arthur, and supported Secretary William C. Whitney, in his plans for an enlarged American Navy.
He had as well an inventive genius and patented several safety devices such as the Bostwick gate. Mr. Bostwick, whose fortune at the time of his death was estimated at $12,000,000, was always liberal with his wealth, although his gifts were made without ostentation, and many of his benefactions will never be known. He aided generously the charities of the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, New York, of which he was a member, and built and endowed Emanuel Baptist Church, Suffolk Street, New York. While in Mamaroneck, he aided the Roman Catholic parish and other religious bodies, without regard to denomination. He also materially increased the endowments of Forrest College, North Carolina. Mr. Bostwick believed that education should make one self-reliant by the development of natural talents, that girls should have the same practical training as boys, and that the daughters of the well-to-do should be equipped to earn their own livelihood if necessary. For this reason his elder daughter, Nellie, took a thorough course in dressmaking, and Evelyn, the second child, chose the profession of surgery."
American Biographical Library, The Biographical Cyclopædia of American Women, Volume I, Daughters of America; or Women of the Century, Bostwick, Helen Celia Ford, Educational Work, page 351.
Charles Millard Pratt (November 2, 1855 – 1935) was an American oil industrialist and philanthropist.
Pratt was born and raised in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, the eldest son of Charles Pratt and Lydia Ann Richardson.
He was the elder half-brother to Frederic B. Pratt, George Dupont Pratt, Herbert L. Pratt, John Teele Pratt and Harold I. Pratt.
He graduated from Amherst College in the class of 1879.
Pratt joined Standard Oil in 1879 and was later Company Secretary. He was a trustee of Amherst College and Vassar College. He was president of the board of trustees, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. He was a director of the Long Island Rail Road, Brooklyn City Railroad, American Express and other corporations.
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