Cause of death
Laura Celestia Spelman
September 9, 1839 (
Wadsworth, Ohio, U.S.
Harvey Buell SpelmanLucy Henry
John D. Rockefeller's wife
March 12, 1915, Pocantico Hills, New York, United States
John D. Rockefeller (m. 1864–1915)
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Alta Rockefeller Prentice
David Rockefeller, Nelson Rockefeller
Michael Rockefeller, Richard Rockefeller
John D Rockefeller, John D Rockefeller - Jr, Alta Rockefeller Prentice, Sophia B Packard, William Rockefeller Sr
Laura Celestia "Cettie" Spelman Rockefeller (September 9, 1839 – March 12, 1915) was an American abolitionist, philanthropist, schoolteacher, and prominent member of the Rockefeller family. Her husband was Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller. She is the namesake of Spelman College, founded to educate black women in the South, and the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial.
Life and work
Cettie Spelman was born in Wadsworth, Ohio to Puritan descendant Harvey Buell Spelman (September 15, 1811 — October 11, 1881) and Lucy Henry (February 28, 1818 — September 7, 1897), Yankees who had moved to Ohio from Massachusetts. Harvey was an abolitionist who was active in the Congregationalist Church, the Underground Railroad, and in politics. The Spelmans eventually moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Cettie had an elder adopted sister, Lucy Maria "Lute" Spelman (c. 1837 — February 6, 1920). In Cleveland, Lute and Cettie met John Davison Rockefeller while attending accounting classes together. He was the eldest son of con artist William Avery "Bill" Rockefeller (1810—1906) and Eliza Davison (1813—1889). They had five children:
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 in 1864. Following her wedding, Cettie remained active in the church (she joined Rockefeller's congregation, the Northern Baptists) and with her family. Once the family business, Standard Oil, began to take off, she further devoted her time to philanthropy and her children.
Throughout their lives, the Rockefeller family continued to donate ten percent of their income to charity, including substantial donations to Spelman College. Cettie died on March 12, 1915 at age 75 of a heart attack, at the family estate Kykuit in Pocantico Hills, New York.