Oldest Companies in America

10 Oldest Companies in America

The United States wasn’t founded until 1776, but many companies on this list predate the formation of the country and date back to the early colonial period. Amazingly, every company on this list has been in continuous operation for at least 200 years and in the case of the oldest company on this list, over 300 years! The companies on this list span across various industries and all provide invaluable services to America.

As of December 2019, all of the companies on this list are still in operation.

10. Cigna

Year Founded: 1792
Founder(s):  Unspecified
Headquarters:  Bloomfield, Connecticut
Industry:  Managed health care

Cignaphoto source: Flickr via ICMA Photos

Cigna traces its history to 1792 when a group of prominent citizens formed the Insurance Company of North America (INA). INA was the first marine insurance company in the U.S. and is the parent company of Insurance Company of North America, the country’s first stock insurance company.

The other half of Cigna is the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, which was founded in 1865 by a special act of the Governor of Connecticut. In 1982, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company and INA merged their operations and health insurance businesses to form Cigna. Since then, Cigna has grown into one of the largest managed health care companies in the world.

Did You Know?

After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Insurance Company of North America (Cigna’s predecessor) was one of only 51 insurance companies (out of a total of 202) to pay claims in full – INA paid out $650,000.

9. King Arthur Flour

Year Founded: 1790
Founder(s):  Henry Wood
Headquarters:  Norwich, Vermont (founded in Boston, Massachusetts)
Industry:  Food (flour and other baking products)

King Arthur Flourphoto source: Flickr via Mike Mozart

King Arthur Flour is one the most popular flour and baking product brands in America and is found across grocery shelves in the country. The company began as Henry Wood & Company and it was the very first flour company in the newly formed United States.

In the early days, King Arthur Flour didn’t mill its own wheat, the company sold and imported English-milled flours. Finally, in the 1820s, King Arthur Flour started producing its own flour made from American-grown wheat. In 1996, the company was restructured as an employee-owned business and its name was changed to King Arthur Flour.

Did You Know?

King Arthur Flour, which is still employee-owned today, has been named one of the Best Places to Work in Vermont every year since the inception of the award in 2006.

8. D. Landreth Seed Company

Year Founded: 1784
Founder(s):  David Landreth
Headquarters:  Shelburne, Vermont (founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Industry:  Seeds

D. Landreth Seed Companyphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Landreth Seed Company is America’s oldest seed company and has sold countless seeds since the company was founded in 1784. The company was started by David Landreth, a British immigrant who moved to Canada to become a seed salesman. But the weather in Montreal was too cold and Landreth moved to Philadelphia and finally started his seed company.

Although D. Landreth Seed Company had been providing seeds for several centuries, in the early 2000s the company was close to shutting down. The company was purchased by venture capitalist Barbara Melera, who helped turn the company around, but Melera was later sued by creditors. D. Landreth Seed Company was then put up for auction and has been owned by American Meadows, Inc. since 2016.

Did You Know?

At one point, D. Landreth Seed Company was so famous that it supplied seeds to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Joseph Bonaparte, who bought seeds when they were in Philadelphia for the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

7. BNY Mellon

Year Founded: 1784
Founder(s):  group including Alexander Hamilton (Bank of New York) and the Mellon Family (Mellon Financial)
Headquarters:  Manhattan, New York City, New York
Industry:  Banking

BNY Mellonphoto source: Flickr via daveynin

BNY Mellon is the oldest banking company in America through its Bank of New York predecessor. Bank of New York was first founded in 1784 after the shipping industry in New York City suffered without a bank of its own. Alexander Hamilton wrote the Bank of New York’s constitution and became one of its first directors.

The other half of BNY Mellon, Mellon Financial began in 1869 by retired judge Thomas Mellon and his sons Andrew W. Mellon and Richard B. Mellon. Mellon Financial and Bank of New York merged in 2006 and is now one of the largest and oldest banks in the world.

Did You Know?

The Bank of New York provided the first loan ever made to the American government, in the amount of $200,000, during the bank’s early years.

6. Laird & Company

Year Founded: 1780
Founder(s):  Robert Laird
Headquarters:  Scobeyville, New Jersey
Industry:  Distillery

Laird and Companyphoto source: Flickr via daveynin

Laird & Company is the oldest distillery still operating in the United States. The company cites its official founding date as 1780 when Robert Laird recorded the first commercial transaction at the distillery. However, the Laird family has a long history of distilling, starting with William Laird, who immigrated to America from Scotland in 1698. The Laird family also opened an inn and the fame of their Applejack brandy spread. Today, the Laird family continues to run Laird & Company and Applejack is still their best-selling product.

Did You Know?

To keep Laird & Company afloat during Prohibition, then owner Joseph T. Laird, Jr. focused on selling other apple products like applesauce and sweet cyder. In 1933, the Laird family was granted a federal license under the Prohibition Act to make Apple Brandy for “medicinal purposes.”

5. Baker’s Chocolate

Year Founded: 1765
Founder(s):  Dr. James Baker and John Hannon
Headquarters:  Deerfield, Illinois (founded in Dorchester, Massachusetts)
Industry:  Confectionary

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Baker’s Chocolate is one of the most used brands of baking chocolate and other confectionary products in the United States. In 1765, John Hannon and James Baker began importing cocoa beans and making one of the first chocolate products in America in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Hannon and Baker ran the company for several years before Hannon passed away during a sailing trip to purchase more cocoa beans in 1779. Hannon’s wife sold their half of the business to Baker and renamed it the Baker Chocolate Company.

The Baker family turned Baker’s Chocolate into a household name, and they continued to run the business for several decades. The company was sold in 1927 to General Foods and Baker’s Chocolate has been owned by Kraft Foods (now the spin off branch Mondelez International) since 1989.

Did You Know?

Although Baker’s Chocolate is now known for it’s baking chocolates, the company did not start advertising adding its chocolate products to baked goods and desserts until the 1800s.

4. The Hartford Courant

Year Founded: 1764
Founder(s):  Thomas Green
Headquarters:  Hartford, Connecticut
Industry:  Newspaper

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

As The Hartford Courant proudly boasts, this daily newspaper is older than the United States! The Hartford Courant was established in 1764 by a printer named Thomas Green in Hartford, Connecticut. In addition to being one of the oldest companies, it is the oldest continuously published newspaper in America.

In 1979, The Hartford Courant was purchased by the Times Mirror, a Los Angeles-based media and information company. Since 2000, Times Mirror and The Hartford Courant have been owned Tribune Company, a Chicago-based media company with operations in television and radio broadcasting, publishing, and interactive ventures.

Did You Know?

Noah Webster’s first dictionary, the “Blue-Backed Speller” was first published in The Hartford Courant in the late 18th century.

3. Caswell-Massey

Year Founded: 1752
Founder(s):  Dr. William Hunter
Headquarters:  Edison, New Jersey (founded in Newport, Rhode Island)
Industry:  Perfume

photo source: Caswell-Massey

Caswell-Massey is the first fragrance and personal care product company in America and has been in continuous operation since 1752. The company was founded by Dr. William Hunter in Newport, Rhode Island as an apothecary shop selling medical supplies. Eventually, Dr. Hunter added cosmetic, personal care, and hygiene products to his shop. Dr. Hunter also imported fragrances from Europe.

The company changed ownership a few times before being run by John R. Caswell and William Massey in early 1900s. Around this time, the company changed its name to Caswell-Massey and still the brand still retains this name today.

Did You Know?

Cawell-Massey has made and sold fragrances to many American historical figures, including George Washington, Dolley Madison, John F. Kennedy, and Jacqueline Onassis.

2. The Rowland Company

Year Founded: 1732
Founder(s):  Benjamin Rowland
Headquarters:  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Industry:  Manufacturing and assembly of industrial power transmission products

The Rowland Companyphoto source: The Rowland Company

The Rowland Company is the second oldest company in the United States and has been around since 1732. It was started by Benjamin Rowland as a tool manufacturing company and has gone through several evolutions. At one point, the Rowland Company became involved with the distribution of automotive and truck parts and opened additional branches in Georgia and Florida. These various branches were spun off and the Philadelphia business stayed open and was sold to the Yost Family in 1967. Today, The Rowland Company specializes in the distribution and fabrication/assembly of industrial power transmission products.

Did You Know?

The original founder of The Rowland Company, Benjamin Rowland, was a descendant of John Rowland, an early American colonist who arrived with William Penn in 1682.

1. The John Stevens Shop

Year Founded: 1705
Founder(s):  John Stevens
Headquarters:  Newport, Rhode Island
Industry:  Stone Carving

photo source: Swampyank at English Wikipedia

The John Stevens Shop was founded in 1705 by English immigrant John Stevens. The stone carving and engraving business has been in continuous operation since then, making The John Stevens Shop the oldest company in America. Over the years, The John Stevens Shop has worked on many historical projects, including the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Stevens family ran the business for more than 220 years before selling it to John Howard Benson, the father and grandfather of current owners, John Everett Benson and Nick Benson.

Did You Know?

Although The John Stevens Shop is over 314 years old and owned by a different family, the company still uses many traditional hand carving techniques.



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