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Abby and John Rockefeller Marriage Profile

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The long lasting marriage of Abby and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. made newspaper headlines from the day their engagement was announced. Here is information on how they met, their wedding, children, and more.

Born:

John Davison Rockefeller, Jr: January 29, 1874 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Abigail "Abby" Greene Aldrich: October 26, 1874 in Providence, Rhode Island.

Died:

John: John died at the age of 86 of pneumonia on May 11, 1960 in Tucson, Arizona.

Abby: On April 5, 1948, Abby died of a heart attack at the age of 73 at their Park Avenue apartment. John was by her side when she died.

John and Abby's ashes were interred next to one another in the family cemetery in Tarrytown, New York.

How John and Abby Met:

Abby and John met in the fall of 1894 at a college dance.
"The love affair of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., began when he was a student at Brown University ... There are those who still remember when the senator's daughter first met the oil king's son. It was at Sayles memorial hall, at one of those college functions ... it soon became a matter of comment that the scion of the house of Rockefeller had fallen a victim to the charms of the Providence belle."
Source: "A College Love Affair." Cedar Rapids Republican. 9/22/1901. pg. 9.

After seven years, John finally proposed by moonlight.

Wedding Date:

John and Abby were married in a lavish ceremony on October 9, 1901 at her parents' summer home in Warwick Neck, Rhode Island. Abby's sister Lucy was her maid of honor. In his Memoirs, David Rockefeller wrote that the media considered the marriage of his parents to be "the union of the two most powerful families in America ..." (pg. 14)
"Headlines through the nation heralded the event: Croesus Captured, Dances Led to His Marriage, Son of Richest Man in the World Gives Up Church and Goes in for Dancing to Win Miss Aldrich, Beauty to Wed Wealth ..."
Source: Raymond Blaine Fosdick. John D. Rockefeller, Jr: a portrait. 1956. pg. 102.

"The original intention of both families was to surround the ceremony with ultra-exclusiveness. Young Mr. Rockefeller and his father were particularly anxious that none but relatives and close friends should be bidden to the wedding, but with Senator Aldrich the case was different. He found out that unless he sent out at least 650 invitations there would be trouble ..."
Source: "Heir to Oil King's Millions Weds Tomorrow." The Newark Advocate. 10/08/1901.

"Rev. James Vose, who married the parents of the bride, performed the ceremony, and the future richest man in the world ceased to be the greatest catch in the world."
Source: "Rockefeller Marriage." Portsmouth Herald. 10/11/1901. pg. 2.

"The marriage ceremony was performed at 11:30 o'clock in the ballroom of the tea house, a handsome stone structure recently erected on the estate. It was witnessed only by the immediate relatives of the bride and bridegroom. The ceremony was followed by a wedding breakfast, served at 12 o'clock, in a marquee adjoining the tea house, erected for the purpose, ... The bride's gown was of ivory white satin, Princess style, fastening down the back. It was cut en train, the skirt being perfectly plain. The bodice was high cut, with a yoke made of shirred tulle and high collar of point lace ... The tulle veil was caught with orange blossoms ... the bride carried a superb bouquet of white orchids ..."
Source: "J.D. Rockefeller, Jr., Weds Miss Aldrich."The New York Times. 10/10/1901.

John and Abby honeymooned at the Plaza Hotel in New York City and then spent a month at their Pocantico estate.

Residences:

Abby and John had several homes throughout their marriage.
  • New York City mansion at 10 West 54th Street until 1938.
  • New York City 40-room apartment at 740 Park Avenue.
  • Bassett Hall, Williamsburg, Virginia.
  • Kykuit, Pocantico Hills, Mt. Pleasant, New York.
  • The Eyrie, Seal Harbor, Maine. It was demolished in 1961.
  • JY Ranch, Grand Tetons, Wyoming.

Occupations:

John: Businessman, philanthropist.

Abby: Socialite, philanthropist.

John's Second Marriage:

  • Martha Baird Allen: Martha was born on March 15, 1895 in Madera, California. John and Martha, a concert pianist, were married on August 15, 1951. Martha's first marriage to Adrian van Laar in 1920 ended in divorce in 1925. She married her second husband, Arthur M. Allen, on May 20, 1930. Arthur, a friend and university classmate of John, died on May 6, 1950. Martha died on January 24, 1971.

Children:

Abby and John had six children.

Quotes About the Marriage of John and Abby Rockefeller:

Abby Aldrich Rockefeller: "I am happy and contented whereever your father happens to be. He means home to me. I really feel sorry for the unhappy people who cannot find companionship in their married lives. I do not believe that it is something that happens, I think it is something that is achieved."
Source: Mary Miley Theobald. "Our little colonial house." ColonialWilliamsburg.com. Autumn 2002.

David Rockefeller: "Father [John] had been taken with my mother [Abby] from their first meeting, but he agonized over whether to propose to her for an almost fatal length of time ... That Father did make Mother happy, and she him, I have no doubt. They were exceedingly close ... and I believe they loved each other very much. Mother brought to Father and to the marriage a sense of joy and fun that he desperately needed."
Rockefeller, David. Memoirs. 2002. pg. 14.

David Rockefeller: "His marriage, despite his initial doubts and hesitation, was a godsend ... He wanted her to be with him always -- if not immediately by his side, then immediately available. He wanted to retreat with her into their own private circle of two. From one point of view it was romantic, and I believe their relations with each other were extremely intense and loving. From another point of view the bond they shared was exclusive of all else, including the children."
Rockefeller, David. Memoirs. 2002. pg. 16.

John: "Marriage either makes or breaks a life. I felt I couldn't afford to make a mistake."
Robert F. Dalzell, Lee Baldwiin Dalzell. The House the Rockefellers Built: A Tale of Money, Taste, and Power in Twentieth-Century America. 2007. pg. 17.

Abby: "... marriage is an art and not an experiment."
Source: Mary Ellen Chase. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. 1950. pg. 75.

Abby: "I am so grateful that I didn't marry the man who asked me when I was eighteen, or even the later ones. I was nearly twenty-seven where your father and I were married; and I am sure I was better able at that age to judge the kind of man I really loved. Our greatest happiness has always lain in our perfect companionship, which has nothing to do with material things."
Source: Mary Ellen Chase. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. 1950. pg. 25.

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