Community Press, July 2004

Historical Marker 
for Rockefeller's Boyhood Home

A historical marker was put in place Friday, July 2, to mark the site of John D. Rockefeller's former boyhood home at 3453 Route 17C in Owego. The house is about a half mile east of Tioga Gardens, on the north side of the road.

 Rockefeller was born in the Town of Richford in Tioga County on July 8, 1839, to William Avery and Eliza Davison Rockefeller. When Rockefeller was four-years-old, the family moved to Moravia, New York. 

 In 1850, the Rockefellers moved again to the Town of Owego on the La Monte Farm. At first they lived in a larger house for a few months, but then settled into the smaller one located today at 2453 Route 17C. 

 The Rockefeller children first attended the one-room district schoolhouse, just a short distance west of their home, but by 1852, John and his brother William were enrolled in the Owego Academy on Court Street, three miles from their home.

 Owego's upper class at that time consisted of the Averys, Pumpellys, Parkers, and Farringtons - all related by marriage, and all holding prominent positions that included lawyers and judges. However, the Rockefellers never made it known that they were part of these elite families (John D's grandmother was Lucy Avery), and that was probably because of Williams's reputation. In 1849, he was indicted - but not convicted - of rape charges in Moravia. It would be logical that the last thing either he or the Owego relatives wanted was to make a connection with each other, and some wonder if Owego's Judge Avery didn't quietly arrange for their move to Owego.

 In 1854, the Rockefellers moved again, this time to a small hamlet outside Cleveland, Ohio.

 John D. Rockefeller went on to become "The richest man in the world" in the oil industry, but he never forgot his hometown in Tioga County. He returned many times to Owego and Richford between 1894 and 1928. He would stay at the Ahwaga Hotel, visit  with old friends, and even visit his old house. Newspapers of the time would report how he gave out shiny, new dimes with the advice "now save this and someday you will be rich." 

 John D. Rockefeller's last visit to Owego was in 1928, when he was 89. He always wanted to live to be 100, but he didn't make it. He died May 23, 1937, just six weeks short of his 98th birthday.

 The Community Press
a free newspaper, published monthly
serving the Tioga County, New York, area
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