Birthplace: Herefordshire, Herefordshire, England
Location of death: Cincinnati, OH
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, OH
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Party Affiliation: Republican
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Co-Founder of Procter & Gamble
William Procter left England for America in 1830, after his London woolens shop was destroyed by fire and burglary. He worked as a candlemaker in New York City, then headed west with his wife, Martha, to settle in the new frontier. When she became ill they stopped in Cincinnati to seek emergency medical help, and there she died of cholera. Procter remained in Ohio, where he continued as a candlemaker. He soon met the woman who would be his second wife, Olivia Procter, whose sister Elizabeth was married to James Gamble, a soapmaker. Eventually the sisters' father suggested that Procter and Gamble should merge their businesses, saving on larger quantity purchase of lye and sharing the ash and meat scraps they both used in preparing their products. The two men established their first storefront at Cincinnati's Main and Sixth streets on 12 April 1837, and their location -- near the Ohio River in a city that was a major rail hub -- allowed the business to expand quickly.
In 1851 an early version on Procter & Gamble's familiar moon-and-stars trademark -- needed to identify their products in a time when many customers were illiterate -- debuted on boxes of their Star brand candles, and the company's annual sales first surpassed $1M in 1859. As the US Civil War approached, Procter and Gamble worried that war could interrupt their supply of a certain kind of Southern pine sap used to make rosin, a key ingredient in several of their products, so the partners sent their sons, William Alexander Procter and James Norris Gamble, to purchase huge quantities of pine sap in Louisiana. This shrewd move allowed P&G to dominate the market during the Civil War, with a lucrative contract to provide numerous products for the Union Army.
Several years after Procter's death, his son William became President of P&G, and after his 1907 suicide Procter's grandson William Cooper Procter took charge of the business. According to company folklore, another of Procter's sons, Harley Procter, came up with the name "Ivory" for the company's new floating soap in 1858, inspired by the Biblical mention of "ivory palaces whereby they have made thee glad" (Psalm 45:8).
Wife: Martha Peat Procter (d. cholera)
Wife: Olivia Norris Procter (b. circa 1814, d. 19-Oct-1893)
Son: William Alexander Procter (P&G President from 1890, b. Aug-1834, d. 1907 suicide)
Daughter: Elizabeth (b. circa 1836)
Daughter: Sarah (b. circa 1837)
Daughter: Elaine (b. 1838)
Daughter: Jane (b. circa 1839)
Daughter: Olivia (b. 1840)
Son: Harley Thomas Procter (P&G executive, b. 1841)
Son: Oliver (b. circa 1841)
Son: George (b. 1842)
Daughter: Harriet (b. 1845)
Son: Edwin (b. circa 1849)
Son: Percy (b. 1851)
Procter & Gamble Co-Founder & President (1837-84)
Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce
Naturalized US Citizen 1830
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