Family-Owned Businesses are What Make America

Did you know that there are many family-owned businesses in the United States? Some that are even older than the United States?

There are hundreds and thousands of family-owned businesses of all sizes all over the United States. Many started by immigrants who had the simple dream of building a better life for themselves.

Check out just a few of this historical family-owned businesses!

Shirley Plantation

In the beginning, the Shirley Plantation grew various crops, now the Shirley Plantation is a historical landmark that is still a plantation and uses its status as part of a preservation effort for soil along the river as well as a museum that showcases local and American History.

Check out our full feature blog that tells the entire story of the Shirley Plantation and the role the family and the business has played in American history.

White Horse Tavern 

Like the Shirley Plantation, the White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island has been in existence since 1673.

If these walls could talk, they’d tell stories about the various Colonists, British soldiers, Hessian mercenaries, pirates, sailors, founding fathers and others who spent time at the tavern.

While the White Horse Tavern hasn’t stayed in one particular family, it’s been transferred to family entities and has been only owned by been owned by six people over its few century existence.


Do you own or ever owned a Ford automobile? Do you know who the famous Henry Ford is? Well, he didn’t invent the automobile but he invented a better way to mass produce them with the assembly line. This innovation made automobiles cheaper to produce which passed on savings to the public.

Henry Ford established the company in 1903 and the Ford family has retained ownership at various levels over the past century.

While the Ford company is technically owned by the Vanguard Group and Evercore Wealth Management, the Ford family still has 40% voting power.

Check out the Ford family tree from Automotive News that highlights the involvement of Henry Ford’s family.


Established in 1865, Cargill is the largest privately owned corporation in the United States that is a leader in the agricultural industry. The Cargill family owns 90% of this family business.

The main business of the company is purchasing and distributing grain, trading in energy, production of feed, etc.

Cargill is actually the main egg supplier for McDonald’s!


Hallmark is a company full of good feelings. The company started around 1906 when the founder started selling postcards. The small company shifted to greeting cards and expanded shortly after into wrapping paper and small gifts.

Over the past century, Hallmark has expanded their product line to include a multitude of products and even a cable station that plays feel-good movies (seasonal, holiday and any occasion)

Former Family-Owned Business

Here’s a short list of companies that started as family-owned but over the course of history became larger corporate entities.

  1. McDonald’s
  2. Wendy’s
  3. Walmart
  4. Binney & Smith (Crayola)
  5. Dick’s Sporting Goods

Starting any business is hard and if only the founders of some of these businesses could only tell you their stories. Good days, bad days, long periods of uncertainty. Fights and feuds with family but also great times of bonding and love.

Do you know of a family-owned business that’s been around for a long time? Do you maybe even own or work for one? Tell us your experience.