He immigrated to New York City in the 1840's, but I haven't found a record of that immigration. I also haven't found James Pyle in the 1850 U.S. Census, but he is in New York City in the 1860 U.S. Census. He is married (to Esther Abigail Whitman) and has three young sons: James, William and Charles.
|Ancestry.com, database online. Year: 1860; Census Place: New York Ward 5 District 1, New York, New York; Roll: M653_790; Page: 385. Record for James Pyle.|
In the 1859 New York City directory, James Pyle is listed under Saleratus at 313 Washington Street.
In 1870, James Pyle is doing quite well and living in New York City. It looks like the valuation of his real estate is $10,000, his personal estate is $2,000, and he has three servants living in his household, which is pretty good for 1870! In addition to his three sons (my great grandfather, James T., William S., and Charles L.), he has a daughter, Sarah C. He is listed here as manufacturer of soap.
|Ancestry.com, database online. Year: 1870; Census Place: New York Ward 20 District 11, New York, New York; Roll: M593_1007; Page: 321. Record for James Pyle.|
Here he is in the 1880 U.S. Federal census, living at 337 West 29th Street, as Soap Manufacturer, with wife Hester, and sons James T. and William F. [sic], also in the soap business. (His third son, Charles Sumner Pyle, died in December 1873, at the age of 16.) His daughter, Sarah, is listed under her nickname of Sadie and is attending school.
|Ancestry.com, database online. Year: 1880; Census Place: New York (Manhattan), New York City-Greater, New York; Roll: T9_884; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 353; Record for James Pyle|
February 1884; perhaps this listing was as of the new year, before his wedding.) His second son, William Scott is listed with his home at 9 W. 49th Street. (He married in 1882.) By the time of the 1886 Trow's New York City Directory, James Pyle & Sons had moved its office to 436 Greenwich Street, where it remained for over 25 years.
Search Trademark page of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website.
Pyle initially called his soap "O.K. Soap" and placed an ad in the New York Times, October 23, 1862, which refers to James Pyle's O.K. Soap. The New York Times obituary of James Pyle says "Brought O.K. Into Popularity." It also states "He was the first to utilize in advertisements the letters 'OK' in their business significance of 'all correct'."
It looks like this document indicates that the O.K. Patent was renewed by the Procter & Gamble Company in 1947 and again in 1953.
There are different searches to be made at this website. I was able to find that the "Word Mark" of "Pearline" was used for "washing compounds and soap powder" and was first used in August 1877, though the filing date for the trademark wasn't made until November 21, 1899. It looks like the Pearline trademark was renewed by the Procter & Gamble Co. in 1946, and by the Hewitt Soap Company in 1983.
|Partial section of James Pyle's obituary|
The extract below is from the obituary of James Pyle, on page 5 of the January 21, 1900, issue of the New York Daily Tribune.
His two sons took over the business. However, it was not to last much longer. William Scott Pyle died at the age of 49 on January 1, 1906.
"Capacity Increased 10 Times"
"Made NECESSARY to supply the steadily increasing demand"
and the cursive on the left of the drawing reads "third time we've had to do this"
From the 1870's until about 1907, Pyle's Pearline was widely advertised. About this time, it was decided that the name of Pearline was well known enough that advertising could be discontinued for a time. (Perhaps the cost of the new manufacturing plant in addition to the cost of advertising was too much?) However, about two years after the second son, James Tolman Pyle died (at the age of 56 on February 8, 1912, in his office at 436 Greenwich Street), Procter & Gamble bought the rights to Pyle's Pearline, supposedly saving the company from bankruptcy. In 1917, there was mention of this decision written up in a business book of the time, Advertising Campaigns, Volume 13 of Modern Business, which can be found in Google Books.
What remains are the postcard, poster, and newspaper advertisements which can be found all over the Internet, if you search for "Pyle's Pearline". Some samples that are in my family's collection are interspersed throughout this posting.
The big marketing push was that Pyle's Pearline would make a woman's work easier and that smart women knew this and should buy Pyle's Pearline.
Thank you to my husband for taking photographs of these Pyle's Pearline ephemera in our collection.
Advertising cards were very popular in the 19th century. I include the fronts and backs of two that I have in my collection. (Thank you to my brother who gave these to me as a gift several years ago).
If you have additional information to share about the business, please let me know by posting a comment below.
My descent from James Pyle > James Tolman Pyle > Charles McAlpin Pyle > Charles McAlpin Pyle, Jr. > me.