Laura Celestia Spelman Rockefeller
, (September 9
), (known as "Cettie"
), was a philanthropist, the namesake of Spelman College
and the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, and the wife of the founder of both Standard Oil
and the Rockefeller family
dynasty, John D. Rockefeller
Laura Spelman was born in Wadsworth, Ohio
in 1839 to Harvey Buel Spelman
and Lucy Henry Spelman
, who had moved to Ohio
. Harvey was an abolitionist who was active in the Congregationalist Church
, the Underground Railroad, and in politics. The Spelmans eventually moved to Cleveland, Ohio
. It was in Cleveland that Cettie met John D. Rockefeller
, where the two took accounting classes together at school. She later left Ohio to attend boarding school in New England, with plans to become a school teacher.
After returning to Ohio to teach, she married Rockefeller in 1864. Following her wedding, Cettie 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 entire lives the Rockefeller family continued to donate ten percent of their income to charity, including substantial donations to Spelman College.
Laura Spelman Rockefeller died on March 12, 1915 of a heart attack.
- Chernow, Ron. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. London: Warner Books, 1998.
- Stasz, Clarice. The Rockefeller Women: Dynasty of Piety, Privacy, and Service. New York: St. Martins Press. (1995).