Henry Flagler from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

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FLAGLER, HENRY M. – The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History


FLAGLER, HENRY M. (2 Jan. 1830-20 May 1913), a developer of STANDARD OIL CO. (OHIO), was born in Hopewell, N.Y., to Elizabeth Harkness and itinerant Presbyterian minister Isaac Flagler. He attended school through the 8th grade, and at 14 went to live with his Harkness relatives in Republic, Ohio. In 1852 he joined Dan and Lamon Harkness in buying out F. C. Chapman’s interest in Chapman & Harkness, forming Harkness & Co., a distillery which made $50,000 for Flagler by 1863. During the CIVIL WAR he worked as an agent dealing in provisions. After losing $100,000 in the salt industry in Michigan, Flagler moved to Cleveland in 1866, briefly selling barrels to oil refiners, then becoming a commission merchant. By 1867 he had enough money to establish H. M. Flagler & Co.

In 1867 STEPHEN HARKNESS invested $100,000 in JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER‘s oil business, placing Flagler in charge of his investment; the firm became Rockefeller, Andrews, & Flagler. Flagler developed the idea of absorbing smaller refineries, and of replacing the partnership with a joint stock company in 1870 and with the Standard Oil trust in 1879. Flagler was secretary and treasurer of the corporation, and vice-president of Standard Oil until 1908 and a director until 1911, but ceased playing an active role after ca. 1881, when he moved to New York and began investing heavily in Florida, developing Palm Beach and Miami. Flagler married 3 times: Mary Harkness in 1853; Ida Alice Shourds in 1883 after Mary’s death; and Mary Lily Kenan in 1901 after divorcing Ida. He had 3 children: Jennie Louise, Carrie, and Harry. Flagler died in West Palm Beach and was buried in the Flagler Mausoleum in St. Augustine, Florida.

Chandler, David Leon. Henry Flagler (1986).

Akin, Edward N. Flagler (1988).

Martin, Sidney W. Florida’s Flagler (1949).

Last Modified: 16 Jul 1997 01:39:52 PM



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