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Mon, 09.09.1839

Laura Spelman Rockefeller, Abolitionist born

Laura Spelman Rockefeller

*Laura Spelman Rockefeller was born on this date in 1839.  She was a white-American abolitionist, philanthropist, and schoolteacher.  

Laura Celestia Spelman was born in Wadsworth, Ohio to Puritan descendants Harvey Buell Spelman and Lucy Henry, Yankees who had moved to Ohio from Massachusetts. Her father was an abolitionist who was active in the Congregationalist Church, the Underground Railroad, and politics.  Her family eventually moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Spelman had an elder adopted sister, Lucy Maria "Lute" Spelman.  

In Cleveland, Lute and Spelman met John Davison Rockefeller while attending accounting classes together. He was the eldest son of William Avery "Bill" Rockefeller and Eliza Davison.  She later returned to New England to attend Oread Institute, with plans to become a schoolteacher. After returning to Ohio to teach, she married John, the Standard Oil co-founder in 1864.  

Following her wedding, Spelman remained active in the church (she joined Rockefeller's congregation, the Northern Baptists) and with her family.  Together, they were the parents of five children; Elizabeth ("Bessie") Rockefeller, Alice Rockefeller, Alta Rockefeller, Edith Rockefeller, and John D. Rockefeller Jr.  Once the family business, Standard Oil, began to prosper, she further devoted her time to philanthropy and her children.  

She is the namesake of Spelman College, founded to educate black women in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial.   Throughout their lives, the Rockefeller family continued to donate ten percent of their income to charity.  Laura Spelman Rockefeller died on March 12, 1915, at age 75 of a heart attack, at the family estate in Pocantico Hills, New York.  

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