Stephen Vanderburgh Harkness (1818-1888)

Stephen V. Harkness, of Cleveland, Ohio; Founding Partner in Standard Oil

He was born in Fayette, New York. He was brought up by his stepmother and her second husband (Rev. Isaac Flagler) after he lost both his parents by the age of eight. He started life as a harness-maker before establishing a distillery at Monroeville, Ohio. In 1864, its success led him into partnership with William Doan, providing crude oil to refineries. Two years later, he moved into Cleveland and built an Italianate mansion at 6508 Euclid Avenue. From 1870, he became one of the three major partners in John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil company along with his stepbrother, Henry Morrison Flagler, and Samuel Andrews. As its second largest shareholder, he died with a fortune of $150 million. He had seven children by two marriages, but only four survived childhood. He left $50 million to his widow, Anna, whose wealth had grown to $85 million by the time she died in 1926, despite having given away $40 million to charity. 
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 23/05/2020 and last updated on 28/02/2023.