By 1865, Standard Oil was the largest and most profitable organization in the world, moving to Manhattan to house all the new employees.
Doctor Quack the Devil Bill
and John D. Rockefeller
The super rich in America enjoy power and prerogatives unimaginable to most of us. Who can conceive of owning a private empire that includes 100 homes, 2,500 servants, untold thousands of luxuries, and untold millions of dollars? America has a royal family of finance that has known such riches for generations. It is, of course, the Rockefellers.
John D. Rockefeller’s father, William, was a travelling salesman and self-described “botanic physician” who refused to live a normal 9-to-5 life. There were secrets behind the brick walls at 515 W. Clark St., where Dr. William and Margaret Levingston lived.
Levingston was an assumed name, taken by a bigamist and a con man nicknamed “Big Bill” who peddled herbal remedies and cancer treatments around the country. In Freeport, he claimed to be an eye and ear specialist, but Levingston was a quack.
And the biggest secret: His real name was William Avery Rockefeller and he was the father of John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil Co. and at the time the richest man in the world. At the dawn of the 20th Century, there was national intrigue and mounting clues of Dr. Levingston’s secret Freeport life.
Publisher Joseph Pulitzer offered $8,000 ($210,000 in today’s dollars) to anyone who could provide information on Rockefeller’s father. William Randolph Hearst also offered a tidy sum for the story.
These days it is accepted as fact by historians that Big Bill, who died in 1906 in Freeport, fathered John D. Rockefeller with Eliza Rockefeller. In a span of two years, Big Bill had two children with Eliza and two more with the family housekeeper in a span of four years. He abandoned his family in the 1850s, but never got a divorce before marrying a second wife, Margaret Allen, in 1856.
The Rockefeller clan denied any genetic connection to Levingston, who took his secrets to the grave.
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