Benjamin Silliman, Jr. was born 4 December 1816 in New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, United States to Benjamin Silliman (1776-1864) and Harriet Trumbull (1783-1850) and died 14 January 1885 New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, United States of unspecified causes. He married Susan Forbes (1819-1878) 14 March 1840 in New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, United States.


Benjamin Silliman, Jr. was a professor of chemistry at Yale University and instrumental in developing the oil industry.

His father Benjamin Silliman Sr., also a famous Yale chemist, developed the process of fractional distillation that enabled the economical production of kerosene. In 1855, Silliman Jr. wrote a report for $526.08 on Pennsylvania rock oil and its usefulness as an illuminant that convinced investors to back George Bissell's search for oil.

Benjamin Silliman Sr. was clearly the largest inspiration in Benjamin Silliman Jr.’s career. Both Sillimans were eminent chemists and professors of the subject at Yale University. The father was the first professor of chemistry at Yale in 1802, and studied the subject at the Medical College of the University of Pennsylvania. He was also professor of natural history -- which was defined as geology, mineralogy, zoology, and botany -- all of which he studied at the University of Edinburgh. His work in those areas established Yale’s rock and mineral collection as the most significant in America at the time. With his help, Yale became the foremost center of science in 19th-century America. Benjamin Silliman Sr. is considered by many to be the father of American chemistry. With the exception of Silliman Jr.’s involvement in the oil boom, there are many similarities between the careers of both Sillimans.


Offspring of Benjamin Silliman, Jr. and Susan Forbes (1819-1878)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Susan Forbes Silliman (1841-1890)
Benjamin Silliman (1843-1843)
Eleanor Strong Silliman (1843-1843)
Alice Trumball Silliman (1846-1890) 3 June 1846 New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut 9 November 1890 New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut William Richardson Belknap (1849-1914)
Benjamin Silliman (1849-1901)
Edith Silliman (1851-1866)
Mabel McClellan Silliman (1854-1927)
Eleanor Root Silliman (1856-1930)


Footnotes (including sources)

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