The Dynasty

Week 14: #52 Ancestors – Great

By Eilene Lyon

“The record of the Rockefellers in America is that of a vital, dynamic, active race, possessed of resourcefulness, shrewdness in business affairs, and executive ability. In some lines, too, they have been known for their imagination, love of beauty, and literary talents.” – Media Research Bureau of Washington, D.C.

I just realized I married into one of this country’s greatest family dynasties – the Rockefellers. That strikes me as a bit, um, rich. Yes, The Putterer’s great-great-grandmother is a Rockefeller and 3rd cousin of John D. Rockefeller. John D. founded Standard Oil and is widely considered to have been the richest American of all time.1

John D. Rockefeller c. 1900. (Wikimedia Commons)

The information in this post comes primarily from an official genealogy compiled by Henry Oscar Rockefeller, M.D. and published by the Rockefeller Family Association, Inc. (downloaded from Family Search).2 I have not verified every fact, but the genealogy includes The Putterer’s line down to his great-grandmother, Emma Elizabeth (Pierson) Lyon, daughter of Clarinda (Rockefeller) and Samuel C. Pierson.

(No, we’re not listed, but then it was published in the early 20th century – a little before our time.)

Clarinda Rockefeller and Samuel C. Pierson in 1909 – The Putterer’s 2nd great-grandparents. Does “celebated” mean no sex was allowed at the party? (Bureau County Tribune, March 19, 1909 – via Newspapers.com)

The Rockefellers of America trace their lineage back to Goddard Rockenfeller of Germany. A grandson and a great-grandson emigrated to America in the early 1700s. The grandson, Johann Peter Rockenfeller, settled in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

Johann Peter’s grandson, John Rockefeller, served as a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary War, which I will delve into in a later post. This John is also one of The Putterer’s ancestors.

“With the mighty names and minds of our Revolutionary ancestors we can now only converse in history, and review their deeds of valor and patriotism, but they still live in the hearts of the nation. Our heritage is a prized possession.” – Henry O. Rockefeller

John’s brother, William, is the ancestor of the aforementioned John D. Rockefeller. In other words, my husband is from the “poor” side of the family. Actually, John D. came from a poor family, too, and could claim to be a self-made man.

Following down the line from John, the patriot, is his eldest son, Godfrey Rockefeller and his wife, Annie Gordon. Little is known about their lives in New Jersey. His estate upon his death in 1814 was worth a little over $1,000.3 Next is his son, Agesilaus Jesse Rockafeller [sic].

Agesilaus Jesse Rockafeller and his third wife, Mary Jane Wright Scott. (Courtesy of rdpace59 on Ancestry.com) Note: I have doubts about the identification of this photograph based on the apparent age of the man and the location being in Los Angeles.

Agesilaus and his first wife, Parmelia Young, grew up and married in New Jersey, but later moved to Indiana.4 In 1848, Agesilaus purchased land from the government in Bureau County, Illinois, where he relocated his family in 1854.5 Parmelia died the same year as their move.6 She and Agesilaus are the parents of Clarinda Rockefeller Pierson.

Though Clarinda remained in Bureau County (where The Putterer was born), her father eventually had two other wives and moved to Kansas, where he died in 1892.7

Now that I’ve established our bonafides as part of the Rockefeller clan, the question is: When do we get our lifetime passes to the Rockefeller Center?

Feature image: Sunset view of Manhattan, including the Rockefeller Center (Wikimedia Commons)


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_D._Rockefeller 
  2. Rockefeller Genealogy. Undated. Compiled by Henry Oscar Rockefeller, M.D., Historian of the Rockefeller Family Association, Inc. Brooklyn, N.Y. 
  3. Godfrey Rockafellar. New Jersey, U.S., Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817. New Jersey State Archives. New Jersey, Published Archives Series, First Series. Trenton, New Jersey: John L Murphy Publishing Company. – via Ancestry.com. 
  4. History of Labette County, Kansas, and Representative Citizens. 1901. Hon. Nelson Case, editor. Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, IL, p. 638. 
  5. Agesilaus Rockafeller. U.S., General Land Office Records, 1776-2015. United States. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records. Automated Records Project; Federal Land Patents, State Volumes. http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/. Springfield, Virginia: Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 2007 – via Ancestry.com. 
  6. See note 2, p. 77. 
  7. See note 5. 

40 thoughts on “The Dynasty

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  1. I’d rather be rich in happiness than dollars and cents any day! Nice catch on the newspaper article, lol! I noticed a few different spellings of the name Rockefeller. Was the name changed when they arrived in America?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very cool! My claim to the Rockefellers is that for over 40 years my parents lived down the street from the Rockefeller Estate in Pocantico Hills, NY. My parents were far from wealthy, but the Rockefellers created a village for the people who worked on the estate, and my parents built a house not far from there.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Looks worthy of a visit! Too bad William’s mansion is gone now. That might have been interesting to see. The last time I was in San Simeon, though, I canceled my tour of Hearst Castle in favor of watching elephant seals on the beach. The natural world always seems to interest me more.

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  3. How fancy! The family must surely have enough money to share some with you!

    John D Sr. is buried in Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery, which I frequented in my teens and early 20s, so I’ve been to his grave many times. It’s definitely big (kind of like a smaller Washington Monument), but not quite as ostentatious as you’d expect, given how rich he was.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Cleveland was the place to be back then (don’t ask me why)! The old Millionaires’ Row houses are fabulous, and all that money helped give Cleveland an amazing art museum, so I guess it’s good it was popular with the society set for a bit.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Holy crap! My ancestors and those of the gardener are such losers in comparison! hahaha What amazing news. I guess if I want to find people like this in my search I need to start on my DIL’s as I already saw she’s got Mayflower connections.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course I wrote this a bit tongue-in-cheek, as I couldn’t care less about the fact my husband has a famous, wealthy relative. But it’s just a fun thing to find anyway. Maybe you’ll find some reflected glitter from your DIL’s tree!

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  5. So I now know someone with a connection to the rich and famous (emphasis on the rich). I liked your last line “When do we get our lifetime passes to the Rockefeller Center?” At least you are legitimately related so that is not such a far-fetched idea. Through the years, I can remember my mother being wistful about something being nice, but too expensive and saying “well I’m not Rockefeller’s daughter, so I guess it’s out of the question.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What fun! And curiously, I was just thinking how amazing it is to have connections to famous people, because one of my daughters is dating a descendant of the Montgolfier brothers, and she and the boyfriend are going on a hot air balloon with one of his uncles tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

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