Henry Flagler Biography & Net Worth
|Popular Name:||Henry Flagler|
Henry Morrison Flagler
January 2, 1830
Hopewell, New Y
|Age:||Died on May 20, 1913 (aged 83)|
Mary Lily Kenan (m. 1901–1913)
Alice Shourds Flagler (m. 1883–1901)
Mary Harkness Flagler (m. 1853–1881)
|Net Worth:||$60 Million|
Henry Flagler was an American industrialist who was famous for being one of the founders of Standard Oil. He also played a significant role in the development of Florida’s Atlantic coast. Also known as the father of Palm Beach and Miami, Florida, this businessman founded what became known as the Florida East Coast Railway. He accomplished so much during the peak of his career alongside business partner John Rockefeller. Here’s the complete biography of Henry Flagler, as well as other details of his businesses, personal life, and other intriguing facts.
Henry Flagler’s Biography & Career
Henry Morrison Flagler is the son of Presbyterian minister Isaac Flagler and his wife, Elizabeth Caldwell Harkness. He was born on January 2, 1830 in Hopewell, New York, in the United States, and attended local schools until eighth-grade. His half-brother Daniel who had left Hopewell to live with and work for his uncle Lamon G. Harkness, who had a business in Republic, Ohio, eventually recruited Henry to join him, and the lad moved to Ohio at age 14, where he started working in 1844 earning a salary of $5 per month. By 1849, he was promoted to the post sales staff and had his salary raised to $40 per month. Later on, he joined his brother Daniel in a grain trade started with his uncle Lamon.
In 1862, Flagler founded the Flagler and York Salt Company with his brother-in-law Barney Hamlin York. It was a salt mining and production company in Saginaw, Michigan. Down the line, Henry discovered that salt mining required more knowledge than he had and he could not keep up with the company until it collapsed when the Civil War undercut demand for salt. This prompted him to make a return to Bellevue in Ohio having lost his initial $50,000 capital and an additional $50,000 he had loaned from Daniel and his father-in-law.
After the failure of his salt production business, he reentered the grain business in Bellevue in 1866 as a commission merchant working with the Harkness Grain Company. During this time his main aim of working was to pay back the loan he collected from his stepbrother Stephen Harkness. It was through this business that he became acquainted with John D. Rockefeller who was a commission agent with Hewitt and Tuttle for the grain company.
By the mid-1860s Cleveland in Ohio had become the heart of America’s oil refining industry and Rockefeller left the grain business in a deliberate move to start his own oil refinery. Needing capital for the new venture, Rockefeller met Flagler in 1867. Flagler’s stepbrother Stephen Harkness decided to invest $100,000 on the condition that Henry Flagler would be made a partner. The Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler partnership was formed with Henry in charge of Harkness’ interest. The partnership eventually became known as the Standard Oil Corporation. By 1872, it led the oil refining industry in America and was producing 10,000 barrels daily.
In June 1870, Flagler and Rockefeller established the Standard Oil of Ohio, which quickly became the most profitable oil refiner in Ohio. The company grew to become one of the country’s leading shippers of oil and kerosene. In under four months in 1872, in what was known as “The Cleveland Massacre” or “The Cleveland Conquest”, Standard Oil had engrossed 22 of its 26 Cleveland competitors. The business was growing vertically and horizontally. It added its own home delivery network, pipelines, and tank cars, and ensured to keep oil prices low to ward off competitors. It also made products affordable to average households, and sometimes sold below cost to increase market penetration. Toward the end of the 1870s, Standard Oil was refining over 90% of the oil in the United States.
By means of horizontal integration, Standard Oil gradually gained almost complete power of oil refining and marketing in America. In the kerosene industry, Standard Oil substituted the old distribution system with its vertical system, and supplied kerosene by tank wagons then delivered fuel to retail customers, and tank cars that supplied it to local markets, and, thus bypassed the network of wholesale jobbers. Standard Oil’s most potent weapons against rivals were differential pricing, underselling, and secret transportation rebates, and this made sure that the firm faced thorough attacks from journalists and politicians all through its existence. Through Henry Flagler’s help, Standard Oil gained an aura of invincibility, and always prevailing against competitors, and critics, as well as political enemies. It had become the richest, largest, most feared company in the world, seemingly invulnerable to the boom and bust business cycle, consistently raking in profits year after year. Its massive American empire included 5,000 tank cars, 4,000 miles of pipeline, 20,000 domestic wells, and more than 100,000 employees.
Although Flagler continued to serve on the Standard Oil board of directors, he gave up his daily involvement in the company to pursue his personal interests in Florida. He focused on making other kinds of investments which he considered profitable. Thus, he engaged in the construction of hotels and resorts, and railways when he realized the need for a solid transportation system to sustain his hotel ventures. He also co-owned Florida newspapers at that time.
Flagler was 83 years old when he passed on in 1913. His death was caused by injuries he sustained when he fell down a flight of stairs at Whitehall in May that year. He never recovered and died on May 20.
Henry Flagler Net Worth
One of America’s greatest industrialists, Henry Flagler net worth was $60 million at the time he passed away in 1913. In today’s dollars, that figure is the same as around $1.6 billion. Flagler earned his wealth as one of the founders of the Standard Oil Corporation which at the peak of its reign, was considered the richest and largest business venture in the whole world. Henry Flagler also invested in real estate and hotels and resorts. He may have died centuries ago, but his legacy lives on as one of the most prominent and influential men who gave Florida a name. Little wonder why he is known as the father of Palm Beach and Miami, Florida.