(Last Updated On: December 15, 2014)
Names like the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts are the first things that we think about when considering traditionally wealthy, reputable American families. The world of the American Elite looks like a fantastical, glittering one, with ‘old money’ families mingling to make a focus of beauty and wealth in the middle of the nation. However, as Forbes’ recent compilation of the richest American families as of 2014 – 2015 catalogs, American families are new and old alike. The fortunes of the same started a long time ago in the eighteenth century while some of the richest families only began to accumulate their billion as recently as the last fifty years.
0.5% of the United States’ entire wealth are represented by the following twenty families alone, with a combining net worth of a whooping $252.1 billion.
20. The Brown family – $11.6 billion
Coming in at the twenty spot is the Brown family. This family has wealth which is one-hundred and forty-four years old. Where they got their net worth of eleven point six billion dollars is the liquor market. Brown-Forman, the family company, was created in 1870, and it is one of the biggest liquor companies in the US today. This wealth is shared by around twenty-five family members.
19. The Mellon Family – $12 billion
A family with Irish heritage took the 19th spot. The Mellons have increased their wealth mostly through banking. Nowadays worth twelve billion dollars, the Mellon family first started making serious money during the 1840s, after Judge Thomas Mellon left Ireland. He started to work with the land, real estate and banking, his work in each of these has been carried on by future generations. Business building is the focal point of the current generation of the Mellons.
18. The Dorrance family – $12.8 billion
At number eighteen is the Dorrances, with a net worth of twelve point eight billion dollars. They have accumulated their money from the Campbell Soup Company, which started in 1897 when John T. Dorrance thought of the renowned recipe for condensed soup. Campbell Soup is a huge company all over the world today, and has a revenue of over eight billion dollars. A lot of members of the Dorrance family still sit on the Campbell board. There are at least eleven members sharing the collective wealth of the Dorrance family today.
17. The Busch family – $13 billion
Coming in at number seventeen is the Busch family, with a net worth of thirteen billion dollars. The source of wealth for this family is company Anheuser-Busch, which famously produces Budweiser. The production of the same started in the late 1800s. It was, for a while, almost put out of business during the Prohibition but went from strength to strength from there. The Busches had complete ownership of the company until the late twentieth century, when they sold around twenty percent off to Anheuser-Busch.
16. The Charles & Rupert Johnson family – $14 billion
Worth fourteen billion dollars is the Charles & Rupert Johnson family, coming in at number sixteen. They got their wealth from mutual funds and their ties to Franklin Resources. The family started in the mid-twentieth century making money when Rupert Johnson set up a Wall Street retail brokerage firm. Nowadays, the company is run by Johnson’s son and his half-brother, and is a mutual fund manager and global investment management firm known as Franklin Templeton Investments.
15. The Ziff family – $14.3 billion
In the fifteenth spot we have the Ziff family with an approximate wealth of around fourteen point three billion dollars. Having increased their riches through publishing, the Ziffs made company Ziff Davis in the early twentieth century. The group is now famous for such well-known brands as PC Magazine. The three Ziff brothers each received a fortune in the 1990s, when the company was sold off, and now manage their wealth through investments.
14. The Hunt family – $15 billion
Coming in at fourteen is the Hunt family with an estimated net worth of fifteen billion dollars. The oil business made the family rich, and has been one of the richest in America constantly since the 1960s. H. L. Hunt had an outstanding fifteen children, each of whom has their own fortune today, be it through Hunt Oil or through another venture, such as Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.
13. The Du Pont family – $15 billion
With an approximate wealth of fifteen billion dollars, the DuPont family are at number thirteen. They got their riches from the DuPont Company, which was previously a gunpowder manufacturer that later expanded into making dynamite, plastics and dyes, amongst other products. The business started when E.L. Dupont left France during the Revolution and came to America. The DuPont family no longer owns the company, but holds a large number of its shares. There are an surprising three thousand, five hundred cousins in the family, most of whom don’t know each other – unsurprisingly!
12. The Lauder family – $15.5 billion
At number twelve, we have the begetters of famous brand Estee Lauder, the Lauder family. Around fifteen and a half billion dollars is their collective net worth. They started to earn their money when Queens-native Estee herself began selling homemade skin creams. The company currently produces thirty high-end cosmetics brands, like Bobbi Brown and Clinique. Even though Estee Lauder has been sold to different buyers, the family still owns thirty nine percent of the company.
11. The Newhouse family – $17 billion
The Newhouse family got the number eleven spot, with a net worth of about seventeen billion dollars. The money was gotten from newspapers and magazines. Publishing group Advance Publications was set up by Sam Newhouse, which was inherited by his sons in 1979, after his death. The brothers split the duties, with one overseeing the newspaper side and the other running Conde Nast, which makes magazines such as Vanity Fair and Vogue. Also, they own a cable TV and Internet service provider.
10. The Duncan family – $25.4 billion
Energy tycoons Duncans are at number ten, with a considerable net worth of around twenty-five point four billion dollars. Dan Duncan was born in rural Texas, and was able to make a good amount of money through natural gas, oil and petrochemical pipelines. His children inherited his almost ten billion dollar estate after his death. Thanks to the rising stock prices and generous dividends, they increased their net worth by fifteen billion dollars.
9. The S.C. Johnson family – $25.5 billion
At number nine, we have the Johnson family. They were able to make their twenty five and a half billion dollars – to be exact – through cleaning products. Today, they make well-known brands such as Windex and Ziploc bags. In the late nineteenth century, they made the original Johnson’s cleaning products industry, and it was inherited by the S.C. Johnson’s son Herbert. Herbert’s estate was divided 60-40 between his two children after his death. Nowadays, the family retains full ownership of the company, giving credence to their famous company slogan, ‘SC Johnson: A family Company’.
8. The Pritzker family – $29 billion
The Pritzker family comes in at number eight with a total net worth of twenty-nine billion dollars made over the last seventy-eight years through hotels and investments. Abram Nicholas Pritzker and his brother Jack, began the family fortune by amassing considerable wealth in the early 1900s through various investments. Abram’s sons increased the wealth in the twentieth-century through hotels, buying the Hyatt House hotel in 1957 and building around one hundred and fifty new branches. Today, the family has outstanding real estate holdings and owns numerous businesses, including Royal Caribbean Cruises.
7. The Cox family – $32 billion
Coming in at number seven is the Cox family, who have made a total of thirty-two billion dollars. They got their wealth mainly because of the media industry, their first foray into which was James M. Cox’s purchase of the Dayton Evening News in the last couple of years of the nineteenth century. The company has expanded massively over the last century and now includes Cox Media Group and Cox Communications. A lot of family members have a significant hold in the business, and sit on the board of directors.
6. The Hearst family – $35 billion
The Hearst family is at number six, with a net worth of thirty-five billion dollars. They got their wealth from the Hearst Corp., and they began making money when William Randolph Hearst became proprietor of the San Francisco Examiner in 1887. Hearst media empire today is made up of forty-nine newspapers and three hundred and forty magazines, and has shares and stakes in such media as channels Lifetime and ESPN.
5. The Edward Johnson family – $39 billion
The number five spot goes to the Edward Johnson family, not to be confused with the Johnsons mentioned before. This family has gathered up their cool thirty-nine billion dollars from money management. IN 1946, the family made their wealth management company Fidelity, and since then have continuously had significant shares in what is currently the second-largest mutual fund company in the US. Fidelity is the operator of funds Magellan and Contrafund, and also has one point seven trillion in assets under management.
4. The Cargill-MacMillian family – $43 billion
The Cargill-Macmillan is fourth on this list with a net worth of forty-three billion dollars. Their fortune was made through Cargill Inc., the biggest private company in the US. Cargill Inc. focuses on processing crops, food sales and providing financial risk management, amongst other things. The company was founded at the close of the American Civil War and until 1995, it was family-owned before the final Cargill stepped down. Six Cargill-MacMillans are individual billionaires.
3. The Mars family – $60 billion
Mars family is at number three with a total net worth of sixty billion dollars. They accumulated their wealth through the candy industry, and today, Mars is the largest confectionery company around the planet. The company was made in 1911 and came up with the recipe for the nougat which now forms the base of numerous of the company’s candy bars, for example Milky Way and Snickers, in 1929. Apart from producing candy, Mars also makes pet foods and Uncle Ben’s rice.
2. The Koch family – $89 billion
The Koch family is the second richest family in America, with approximately eighty-nine billion to its name. The family is made up of industrialists and business people, and their company Koch industries is a large American private company which has around one hundred and fifteen billion dollars in sales. In the past few years, unrest amongst the Koch family saw two brothers being left out in the cold, in spite of spending ten years suing for more money, while Republicans Charles Koch and David – the remaining wealthiest brothers – are two of the most politically powerful billionaires in the world today.
1. The Walton family – $152 billion
The Waltons are the richest family in America, with a hooping net worth of one hundred and fifty-two billion dollars. Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is their source of wealth. Wal-Mart has over four hundred and seventy-six billion dollars in revenue. The Walton family holds fifty-one percent of the company’s shares, and collectively own the fortune left to then by their respective fathers, Sam and James Walton, after they started their first store in 1962.