John D. Rockefeller(1839 - 1937) raised himself up to become the richest man in the history of the world. At one point, he possessed the equivalent of $1 trillion dollars today's money -- and there were no income taxes then. He started as a bookkeeper, went into groceries and eventually bought refineries & oil wells, which became Standard Oil. For awhile he owned almost all the oil fields & facilities in America. He spent the last 40 years of his life supporting charities and good causes.
John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) with his only son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. circa 1920 Rockefeller, Sr. is frequently listed as the richest man in history (depending on which list you look at) in company with the likes of Andrew Carnegie, Tsar Nicholas II and William the Conqueror.