John Dustin Archbold
July 26, 1848-December 5, 1916
John Dustin Archbold was one of the titans of the Gilded Age. Archbold was born in Ohio, the son of Rev. Israel Archbold and his wife Frances. Israel Archbold died in 1859 and young John became the man of the family. The family moved to Salem, Pennsylvania, which was not far from the soon-to-be-developed oil fields of Pennsylvania. He saved a meager amount of money, and then in 1864 he moved to Titusville, Pennsylvania in the heart of the oilfields. By age nineteen his small investments were paying off; so much so that he was able to buy a home for his mother and send his sister to college. He worked at and invested in oil fields for the next 11 years. During that time John D. Rockefeller’s company, Standard Oil was hungrily gobbling up smaller companies and was setting its sites on Archbold’s company, Acme Oil Company of Titusville. The two men engaged in a spirited and very public battle but peace was made and Archbold was offered a position at Standard Oil. Over the years he held positions of vice president and president and served on the board of directors. In later life, Archbold devoted himself to educational and philanthropic works. His most significant donation was $6 million to Syracuse University.
The Archbold mausoleum had one very interesting temporary guest. When John D. Rockefeller’s wife Laura died, the newspapers reported that he asked his old friend John Dustin Archbold if he would house Laura’s remains for a while before transferring her to the John D. Rockefeller plot in Cleveland’s Lakeview Cemetery. “1 want to keep her with me as long as I can.” The newspapers reported. Ah, how romantic and touching. Alas, Rockefeller’s sentiments just may ring a bit hollow since something else was preventing him from going to Lake View Cemetery: as soon as he crossed the state line into Ohio he would have been served a summons for a court case he had been avoiding. Laura remained in the Archbold mausoleum for four and one half months while Rockefeller’s lawyers worked things out with tax officials in Ohio.
Archbold’s one-of-a-kind mausoleum was fabricated of green granite by Troy Granite in Worcester, Massachusetts. It measures 36 feet by 36 feet and is 32 feet tall. It contains 12 crypts. The contractor/builder was the Norcross Brothers, which charged $31,308 for the building. The mausoleum including the bronze doors was designed by the New York firm of Morris, Butler and Rodman Architects. The glass mosaic ceiling was crafted by Otto Heinigke (1850-1915). It contains a number of iconic Christian symbols including winged depictions of the four evangelists, the Agnes Dei (lamb of God), doves, angels and crosses.
Text and photo © Douglas Keister Visit Doug’s Author Page