HISTORY CHANNEL: THE ROCKEFELLERS PART 1 OF 9
The Rockefeller family, founded by John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) ("Senior") and his brother William Rockefeller (1841-1922), is an American industrial, banking, and philanthropic family of British-French-German-American origin that made the world's largest private fortune in the oil business during the late 19th and early 20th century, primarily through the Standard Oil Company. The family is also known for its long association with and financial interest in the Chase Manhattan Bank, now JP Morgan Chase.
The name is an Americanized version of the German Rokkenfelder or Rockenfeller, meaning from Rockenfeld. This indicates the latter origins of the family, which can be traced back to the villages of Ehlscheid, Segendorf and Fahr, (all suburbanised to Neuwied). These are neighbored to the small settlement of Rockenfeld - part of Neuwied's quarter Feldkirchen. In Germany, the version Rockenfeller is known as a family name.
However, it is sometimes stated that the Rockefeller surname originated from the Roquefeuille, from the region of Limousin, France. If true, that may explain why they were located in the Midwest, where most of the French immigrants settled. This New France, which consisted of 15 states north of Louisiana, was home to more than 150,000 Frenchmen and women in 1803 when Louisiana was sold to the USA. In France, the version Roquefeuille is also known as a family name. Back in the 16th century, French nobles were Protestant and fled the absolutist Catholic regime to go to Germany. They dispersed throughout the German kingdoms and Switzerland. This is generally the favored version of historians to explain the ultimate roots of the Rockefeller name. The name may also come from the "Roquefeuil", a Catholic family from the region of Languedoc (France).