Oliver Burr Jennings

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Oliver Burr Jennings
Oliver Burr Jennings.png
Born(1826-06-03)June 3, 1826
DiedFebruary 12, 1893(1893-02-12) (aged 66)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Esther Judson Goodsell
(after 1854)
Children5, including Walter, Oliver
RelativesBrewster Jennings (grandson)
Hugh D. Auchincloss (grandson)

Oliver Burr Jennings (June 3, 1825 – February 12, 1893) was an American businessman and one of the original stockholders in Standard Oil.

Early life[edit]

Jennings was born in 1825 in Fairfield, Connecticut, to Abraham Gould Jennings and Anna (née Burr) Jennings.[1] His brother was Frederick B. Jennings.[2] At a young age he came to New York to learn the dry goods business.[3] Through his great-grandfather, Peter Burr, he was distantly related to U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr.[4][2]


In 1849, he headed West to seek his fortune in the California Gold Rush. He set up a general mercantile store in San Francisco with Benjamin Brewster and amassed a considerable fortune by outfitting prospecting camps along the coast and around Sacramento.[5]

Standard Oil[edit]

In 1862, he returned to New York with the intention of retiring from all business activities. Due to his close relationship with his wife's brother-in-law, William Avery Rockefeller, Jr., he became interested in the affairs of the Standard Oil Company.[3] In 1871, when Standard Oil was incorporated in Ohio, Jennings was one of the original stockholders. Of the initial 10,000 shares, John D. Rockefeller received 2,667; William Rockefeller, Henry Flagler, and Samuel Andrews received 1,333 each; Stephen V. Harkness received 1,334; Jennings received 1,000; and the firm of Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler received 1,000.[6]

Jennings served as a director of Standard Oil of Ohio and then as a trustee of the Standard Oil Trust that resulted from the company's reorganization in 1882.[7]

Personal life[edit]

On December 13, 1854, he married Esther Judson Goodsell (1828–1908) in Fairfield. Her younger sister, Almira Geraldine Goodsell, was the wife of Standard Oil co-founder William Rockefeller, Jr.[7] Together, Oliver and Esther had five children:[1]

Jennings died in 1893 at his residence in New York City.[3] His estate amounted to US$10,000,000 (equivalent to $301,592,593 in 2021), which he left entirely to his family.[16]


Jennings's grandchildren include businessman Benjamin Brewster Jennings (1898–1968) and stockbroker Hugh Dudley Auchincloss, Jr. (1897–1976), who married Janet Lee Bouvier.[17] and Anne Burr Auchincloss, who married Wilmarth S. Lewis and spent her fortune to setting up the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University, devoted to the life and works of Horace Walpole, the builder of Strawberry Hill House.


  1. ^ a b Ward, George Kemp (1910). Andrew Warde and His Descendants, 1597-1910. A.T. De La Mare. pp. 117, 189.
  2. ^ a b c "WALTER JENNINGS DIES IN THE SOUTH | Son of One of Associates of John D. Rockefeller Sr. in - Original Standard Oil. | A POWER IN N. J. STANDARD | Was a Descendant of Aaron Burr | A Philanthropist, Patron of Art and Prominent Clubman". The New York Times. January 10, 1933. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Oliver Burr Jennings". The New York Times. 1893-02-13. p. 4. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  4. ^ Michael J. Pauley (April 9, 1982). "National Register of Historic Places Nomination: Peter Burr House" (PDF). National Park Service. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ Men of Progress. New England Magazine. 1898. pp. 402–3.
  6. ^ Dies, Edward (1969). Behind the Wall Street Curtain. Ayer. p. 76. ISBN 9780836911787.
  7. ^ a b McCash, June Hall (1998). The Jekyll Island Cottage Colony. University of Georgia Press. p. 220. ISBN 978-0-8203-1928-5.
  8. ^ "MISS JENNINGS LISTS 11 KIN AS CHIEF HEIRS | Servants and Charities Also Share in $6,000,000 Estate". The New York Times. August 2, 1939. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Annie Burr Jennings: Philanthropist 1855-1939 · Wonder Women of Fairfield · Fairfield Photos". fairfieldmuseum.omeka.net. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  10. ^ "Walter Jennings Dies After Heart Attack At Jekyll Island" (PDF). The Long Islander. January 13, 1933. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  11. ^ "MRS. WALTER B. JAMES: Widow of Academy of Medicine Leader Headed Day Nursery". The New York Times. 16 August 1946. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  12. ^ Times, Special to The New York (19 April 1927). "GIFTS TO THREE COLLEGES.; Dr. W.B. James Wills $25,000 to Columbia -- Estate, $2,000,000". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  13. ^ "MRS. AUCHINCLOSS: PHILANTHROPIST, 80; Widow of Hugh D. Auchincloss, a Merchant, Dies in Home at Fairfield, Conn. AARON BURR DESCENDANT Contributed $25,000 to the Presbyterian Hospital Here -- Active in Garden Club". The New York Times. 12 September 1942. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  14. ^ "HUGH D. AUCHINCLOSS DIES.; Apoplexy Ends Life of Well-Known Merchant". The New York Times. 22 April 1913. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  15. ^ "Oliver Jennings, Capitalist, Dead. Director of Many Companies, 71, Had Been on Board of Bethlehem Steel. Was Former Legislator. Served in Connecticut House of Representatives. Brother of Mrs. Walter B. James". New York Times. October 14, 1936. Retrieved 2010-11-02.
  16. ^ "All in the Family; Provisions of the Will of Oliver Burr Jennings of this City". The New York Times. 1893-02-26. p. 4. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  17. ^ Buck, Albert H. (1909). The Bucks of Wethersfield, Connecticut. Stone Printing and Manufacturing Co. pp. 120–3.