Mention the name ‘Rockefeller’ and most people will, depending on their point of view, consider topics such as huge wealth, political influence, major banks, philanthropy or even the Illuminati and the New World Order.
However, the Rockefeller name became well known far before these other tags were put upon the family.
William Avery Rockefeller, father to John D Rockefeller Snr, specialised in snake oil long before the family name became synonimous with crude oil.
He was a womanising thief and adept scam artist who travelled the country selling herbal rememdies.
With one such cure he claimed that he could cure all forms of cancer that had not already become terminal.
Promoting himself as ‘William Rockefeller, the Celebrated Cancer Specialist’, he charged $25 a bottle for his magical cure.
At the time that equated to two months net pay for the average American.
The ‘cure’, based on a laxative mixed with petroleum, lived on for a great many years, becoming known as Nujol.
During his lifetime he fled many charges, including ones for swindling and horse stealing.
He was also indicted for raping a hired girl in Cayuga in 1849.
To evade capture he assumed the identity of Dr William Levingston from Philadelphia, a name he kept right up until his death in Illinois on May 11, 1906.
Buried in an unmarked grave in Freeport, he was married to Eliza Davison but it was his housekeeper, Nancy Brown, who bore him the Rockefeller dynasty that is so well known today.