How John D Rockefeller Despised Our Relative
John H Alexander, brother of our ELIZABETH ALEXANDER (m THOMAS SIFLEET), was one of John D Rockefeller's most despised competitors. Rockefeller put him out of business in the Cleveland Massacre of 1872. See the details below. The primary source is
Ron Chernow, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr, Random House, NY, 1998.
Citing this source:
p 130: "Rampant speculation had so overbuilt the industry that total refining capacity in 1870 was triple the amount of crude oil being pumped. By then, Rockefeller estimated, 90 percent of all refineries were operating in the red. At this bleak impasse, a leading Cleveland rival, John H. Alexander, offered to sell his interest to William Rockefeller at ten cents on the dollar, as the entire industry faced ruin."
pp 142-143: "… Rockefeller engineered his most important coup: the swift, relentless consolidation of Cleveland's refineries, which gave him irresistible momentum. … Between February 17 and March 28, 1872 … Rockefeller swallowed up twenty-two of his twenty-six Cleveland competitors. During one forty-eight-hour period alone in early March, he bought six refineries. As one refiner, John H. Alexander, recalled:
'There was a pressure brought to bear upon my mind, and upon almost all citizens of Cleveland engaged in the oil business, to the effect that unless we went into the South Improvement Company we were virtually killed as refiners; that if we did not sell out we should be crushed out … It was said that they had a contract with railroads by which they could run us into the ground if they pleased.' "
pp 146-147: "During the Cleveland Massacre, Rockefeller savored a feeling of sweet revenge against some of the older men who had patronized him when he started in business. This was especially true of his negotiations with Alexander, Scofield and Company, whose partners included his original boss, Isaac L. Hewitt. After Hewitt came to Rockefeller's Euclid Avenue home to plead for mercy, they strolled down Euclid Avenue together, and Rockefeller told him his firm would never survive if it didn't sell out to Standard Oil. He made a cryptic statement to Hewitt that entered into Rockefeller folklore: 'I have ways of making money you know nothing about.' Disconcerted by such assertions, Hewitt and his partners finally sold out for $65,000, though they believed their business was worth $150,000. Rockefeller felt merciful toward Hewitt and loaned him money to buy Standard stock, but he despised Hewitt's partner, John H. Alexander, who still viewed him, he thought, as Hewitt's former clerk. As Rockefeller put it, 'How could this conceited Englishman ever conceive it possible that a young man who had been a bookkeeper, and especially at a time when he had been employed in an oil refinery, be qualified to lead in a movement of this kind?' "
p 195: "Frank [Rockefeller] entered oil refining as a competitor to Standard Oil after he married the tall, handsome Helen E. Scofield in 1870. The Scofields were a relatively old Cleveland family, and Helen's father, William Scofield, was a partner in Alexander, Scofield and Company, one of the major refiners that John absorbed during the 1872 Cleveland Massacre. That Frank married the daughter of one of John's chief competitors could only have been interpreted by John as a provocation.
…Frank testified before a congressional committee … and charged John with heavy-handed tactics in buying out Alexander, Scofield. … Frank electrified reporters with John's warning, 'We have a combination with the railroads. We are going to buy out all the refiners in Cleveland. We will give every one a chance to come in. We will give you a chance. Those who refuse will be crushed. If you don't sell your property to us it will be valueless.' According to Frank the experience of Alexander, Scofield wasn't unique. 'There are some twenty men in Cleveland who sold out under the fright, and almost any of them would tell you that story.' "
p. 196: "… Rockefeller … did bear a special grudge against Scofield. When Standard Oil bought out Alexander, Scofield in 1872, the selling partners pledged to steer clear of refining. Nevertheless, a year later—in what Rockefeller considered an unforgivable breach of faith—Scofield organized a new refining company, Scofield, Shurmer and Teagle."
My Great Aunt Arlien Sifleet's notes—she married THOMAS SIFLEET’s grandson—have John Alexander with Scofield, Teagle & Alexander Oil Co of Cleveland and then with Standard Oil. Perhaps this is a confusion of the two companies (see evidence above) Alexander, Scofield and Company and the later Scofield, Shurmer and Teagle. That he would join Standard Oil seems surprising, from reading the Rockefeller evidence, but that is apparently what happened.