Procter and Gamble

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William Procter

(Born December 7, 1801 at Herefordshire, Herefordshire, England – Died at Cincinnati, Ohio April 4, 1884)

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James Gamble

(Born April 3, 1803 at Enniskillen, Ireland – Died April 29, 1891, at Cincinnati, Ohio)

The names Procter and Gamble are forever linked because of the company William Procter and James Gamble founded in 1837 at Cincinnati, Ohio.

William Procter was a candle maker by trade and James Gamble made soap. They were married to sisters. William was married to Olivia Norris and James was married to Elizabeth Ann Norris. Besides both being good at what they did and being married to sisters, they had one other thing in common—a father-in-law named Alexander Norris who had a pretty good business head on his shoulders. Lye is a main ingredient in candles and soap. Alexander reasoned that if William and James went into business together, they would be able to purchase lye in greater quantities and be able to reduce their costs by buying in bulk and increasing their profits. It made sense and the rest, as they say, is business history.

And, history they made—Procter and Gamble was well on the way to being a large company with annual revenues over a million dollars when it was awarded a lucrative government contract to supply the Union Army with products. The contract and its brand marketing allowed Procter and Gamble to dominate the market.

One of the most famous P&G brands is Ivory soap which, and, according to company lore, both families had a hand in. In 1879, James Gamble’s son, James Norris Gamble, a chemist, devised the original formula for the company’s Ivory brand soap and William Procter’s son, Harley Procter, named it. Harley looked to the Biblical passage Psalm 45:8 for inspiration, “ivory palaces whereby they have made thee glad”. And so it was named.

As the brand grew and the product line became more diverse, the company began to advertise in many different forms of media including the fledgling new media called radio. In the 1920s and 1930s, radio became very popular including radio programs known as daytime dramas. P&G sponsored many of these radio which became known as “soap operas”.

Both of the founders are buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery at Cincinnati. William Procter is buried underneath a modest gray marble gravestone about two to three feet high.

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James Gamble, however, has a soaring light gray granite obelisk that marks where his family is buried.

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