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Which are the Oldest Companies in the United States?

Discovering which American companies are the oldest reveals an intriguing historical journey. These businesses, which range from colonial-era institutions to surviving family legacies, have withstood centuries of transition and represent resiliency and legacy in the modern business environment. Here is the detail of the oldest companies in the United States.  

List of 11 Oldest Companies in the United States 

  • The Shirley Plantation 
  • The John Stevens Shop
  • The Rowland Company
  • Caswell-Massey
  • The Hartford Courant
  • Baker’s Chocolate
  • Laird & Company
  • BNY Mellon
  • D. Landreth Seed Company
  • King Arthur Flour
  • Cigna 

1- The Shirley Plantation 

Founded in 1613, Shirley Plantation is one of the oldest homes and farms in America, situated close to Richmond, Virginia, along the James River. The plantation has a history that spans hundreds of years, from colonial times to the Civil War to its recent past. It is the oldest family-owned company in North America, being run by the same family who started farming the land in 1638.

The plantation was part of a royal land grant given to the Virginia colony’s first royal governor, Sir Thomas West, Baron de la Warr. He named the land after his wife, Lady Cessalye Sherley, and even though he died just five years after receiving the land grant, the name “Shirley” remained. 

The current owners can date their family’s work at Shirley to 1638 when Edward Hill acquired the land. The Hill family merged with the legendary Carter family in 1723, and the current owners are the 11th and 12th generations of the Hill Carter family. In 2013, Shirley Plantation celebrated its 400th anniversary. 

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2- The John Stevens Shop

The John Stevens Shop dates back to its inception in 1705. Established by John Stevens, a skilled craftsman, the shop began as a modest silversmith and engraving business in Newport, Rhode Island. 

Over the years, the shop’s reputation for exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail grew and attracted a loyal clientele seeking high-quality silverware, jewelry, and decorative items. 

The John Stevens Shop expanded its offerings and clientele as the years passed.  Its growth was fueled by preserving traditional techniques while adapting to modern market conditions. The shop’s dedication to quality and innovation allowed it to thrive through various economic turmoils which solidified its position in the industry. Today, John Everett Benson and Nick Benson own this company.  

3- The Rowland Company

The Rowland Company, founded in 1732 by Benjamin Rowland, is the second-oldest company in the United States and the oldest continuing company in Pennsylvania. The company evolved over the years and became heavily involved in the distribution of automotive and truck parts in the mid-1900s. 

In the 1950s, the Rowland family sold all locations to outside interests, but the Philadelphia operation continued to distribute automotive parts and heavy-duty items such as power take-offs and driveshafts for the truck market. In 1962, Gulf & Western Industries purchased the company and separated the automotive and heavy-duty truck segments by moving the automotive portion to King of Prussia. The heavy-duty truck parts operation remained in Philadelphia 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. The company is known as “The Problem Solver” in power transmission applications. 

4- Caswell-Massey

Caswell-Massey is America’s first fragrance and personal care product company, with a history dating back to 1752. Founded by Dr. William Hunter in Newport, Rhode Island, the company initially operated as an apothecary shop selling medical supplies. Over time, Dr. Hunter expanded the products to cosmetics, personal care, hygiene products, and imported fragrances from Europe.  

The company has undergone several ownership changes throughout its history, eventually being run by John R. Caswell and William Massey in the early 1900s. It was during this period that the company adopted its current name, Caswell-Massey.  

Caswell-Massey’s products are known for their purity and transparency, with the company committed to using only paraben-free, sulfate-free, and phthalate-free ingredients. The brand manufactures all of its products in the USA. 

One of Caswell-Massey’s most iconic fragrances is Number Six, which was originally formulated in 1772 and became a favorite of America’s first president, George Washington. The fragrance has been re-mastered in recent years, using plant-based components and over 90% natural and sustainably produced oils. 

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5- The Hartford Courant

The Hartford Courant, America’s oldest continuously published newspaper, was founded in 1764 by Thomas Green in Hartford, Connecticut. Initially published as a weekly, it became a daily in 1837. The paper has a history of covering important events such as the American Revolution, the arrival of the steamboat, and Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign. 

Over the years, the paper has undergone ownership changes, with Times Mirror purchasing it in 1979 and Tribune Company acquiring Times Mirror in 2000. Despite changes in ownership and the challenges facing the newspaper industry, The Hartford Courant has remained committed to its mission of providing quality journalism to its readers.

The paper has won several prestigious awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism in 1992 and the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting in 1999. In 2013, it was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in the Breaking News category for its coverage of the school shooting in Newtown. The Hartford Courant remains a vital source of news and information for the people of Connecticut and beyond. 

6- Baker’s Chocolate

In 1765, Dr. James Baker and John Hannon started importing cocoa beans and making one of the earliest chocolate products in America in Dorchester, Massachusetts. This is when Baker’s Chocolate, a well-known brand of baking chocolate and confectionary items in the US, began. 

The firm progressed under their partnership until 1779 when Hannon tragically died while traveling to find cocoa beans. His widow then sold their share to Baker and changed the company’s name to the Baker Chocolate Company.

The Baker family’s dedication and innovation turned Baker’s Chocolate into a famous brand. In 1927, the company was acquired by General Foods and later became part of Kraft Foods (now Mondelez International) in 1989. 

The Baker’s Chocolate brand is known for its high-quality chocolate products, including unsweetened, bittersweet, semi-sweet, and German sweet chocolate, as well as white chocolate, chocolate chunks, and dipping chocolate. 

7- Laird & Company

Laird & Company, America’s oldest distillery, traces its roots back to 1780. It was founded by Robert Laird in Scobeyville, New Jersey. However, the Laird family’s legacy in distilling dates even further back to William Laird, who immigrated from Scotland to America in 1698 and began producing Applejack brandy, a spirit made from apples. The Laird family’s reputation for quality spirits grew, with their Applejack becoming renowned, especially during the Colonial Period

The Laird family has expanded into other industries. Laird Plastics, a company that prioritizes sustainability, has implemented recycling programs and collaborates with eco-conscious suppliers to minimize their environmental impact. They recycled over 100 million pounds of material in 2023. 

Laird Technologies, another venture of Laird & Company, is a leading designer and manufacturer of electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding, thermal interface, and wireless antenna solutions for various industries, including telecommunications, data-communications, computer, general electronics, network equipment, aerospace, defense, automotive, and medical equipment. 

8- BNY Mellon 

BNY Mellon, founded in 1784, is the oldest banking company in America. The Bank of New York, which was first established in 1784, is a significant part of BNY Mellon’s history. The bank was established to provide financial services to the growing shipping industry in New York City, which had previously lacked a bank of its own.

The other half of BNY Mellon, Mellon Financial, was founded in 1869 by retired judge Thomas Mellon and his sons Andrew W. Mellon and Richard B. Mellon. Mellon Financial started as a small investment firm and grew over time to become a significant player in the banking industry. In 2006, Mellon Financial merged with the Bank of New York which became the current BNY Mellon. 

In 2023, BNY Mellon’s Pershing unit launched Wove, a wealth management platform, and became an early adopter of the Federal Reserve’s instant payment rail, FedNow. 53,400 people were employed by the bank as of December 2023, and it operated in 35 countries including America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific. 

9- D. Landreth Seed Company 

D. Landreth Seed Company was founded in 1784, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by David Landreth. The company has contributed a lot to shaping the modern American agricultural market.  

David Landreth brought the zinnia from Mexico to the United States in 1798, introduced the first white potato in 1811, and the tomato in 1820. He perfected the first variety of yellow tomatoes and, in 1826, introduced a new kind of spinach, Bloomsdale, which continues to be popular today. 

In the early 2000s, D. Landreth Seed Company ran into financial difficulties, which led venture entrepreneur Barbara Melera to acquire it. Melera’s efforts revitalized the company but financial difficulties resurfaced and led to legal disputes with creditors. Subsequently, the company was auctioned off and acquired by American Meadows, Inc. in 2016.

10- King Arthur Flour

King Arthur Flour, founded in 1790, is one of the most popular flour and baking product brands in America. The company began as Henry Wood & Company, the first flour company to sell English-milled flour in the newly formed United States. In the 1820s, the company started producing 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.

The company’s name was inspired by the Arthurian legend which reflects the values of purity, loyalty, honesty, superior strength, and dedication to a higher purpose. The name was introduced at the Boston Food Fair on September 10, 1896, and became an immediate success. 

King Arthur Flour offers a wide range of baking products, including flour, baking mixes, cookbooks, and baked goods. The company sells its products directly to consumers through its catalog, website, and at its flagship store, The Baker’s Store, located in Norwich, Vermont. King Arthur Flour also runs a baking advice service, publishes cookbooks, and offers classes.

The company has been recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Vermont every year since the inception of the award in 2006. In 2020, the company introduced a new name, King Arthur Baking Company, and a new logo, the wheat crown, to better represent its heritage and quality.

The company’s dedication to its employees, customers, and the environment is reflected in its status as a B Lab-certified benefit corporation and its commitment to sustainability and social responsibility.

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11- Cigna

Cigna is a leading managed healthcare company, founded in 1792 when a group of prominent citizens formed the Insurance Company of North America (INA), the first marine insurance company in the U.S. and the parent company of the 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, the two companies merged their operations and health insurance businesses to form Cigna.

The company has been recognized among the top healthcare companies in the world. In 2023, Cigna ranked #15 in the Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. corporations by total revenue and #68 in the Forbes Global 2000 ranking.

In recent years, the company has formed strategic alliances with Priority Health to make health care coverage more affordable and with Envision Healthcare to renew its agreement to include Envision’s services in Cigna’s health plans.


The oldest companies in the United States have demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability during wars, depressions, recessions, and slumps. These companies have all played significant roles in shaping American history and industry. From plantation to flour and baking products, healthcare, banking, and seeds, these companies have proven that they can stand the test of time and continue to thrive in the changing market conditions. 


1- What is the Oldest Company in the United States?

Founded in 1613, Shirley Plantation is the oldest company in the United States. 

2- How many US Companies are 100 Years Old?

More than 1,000 companies in the US are over 100 years old. 

3- What is the Most Profitable Company in the US? 

The most profitable company in the United States is Apple, which generated a net income of $94.76 billion in 2023.  

4- Which is the Oldest Company in the World?

Kongo Gumi is the world’s oldest-running company. The company was founded in 578 AD in Osaka, Japan.

5- What is the Oldest Company in the UK?

Established in 886 AD, Royal Mint is the oldest company in the United Kingdom. 

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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