The first person to drill for oil in the United States. He also founded an oil refinery in Pittsburgh.
He grew up on farms in New York state and Vermont and began working for a Connecticut railway in his late teens.
He was hired by Seneca Oil to look into the possibility of finding oil deposits in Pennsylvania. During the course of this assignment, he not only found oil, but also developed a revolutionary way of drilling for it.
He was married twice: to Philena Adams, who died during childbirth in 1854, and to Laura Dowd.
He and Armand Hammer were both famously involved in the petroleum business.