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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Johnson, Burdette Jay 1826 - 1902

Definition: soap manufacturer, b. Ellicottville, Cattaraugus County, N.Y. He moved to Milwaukee in 1864 where he established the B. J. Johnson Co., manufacturing soap, candles, and cheese. Through the introduction of white bar soap, which became widely popular, and such innovations as the manufacture of his own boxing equipment, Johnson soon made soap the company's leading product. In 1894 the name of the firm was changed to the B. J. Johnson Soap Co., and soap was manufactured exclusively. His son, CALEB ELLIOTT JOHNSON, b. Buffalo, N.Y., began his career with the B. J. Johnson Co. in 1879. He served as vice-president (1894-1902) and president (1902-1924) of the company. In 1917 the firm was changed to The Palmolive Co., and it was largely through the efforts of Caleb E. Johnson that Palmolive soap gained a nationwide market through large-scale magazine advertising. W. G. Bruce, Hist. of Milwaukee (3 vols., Chicago, 1922); Natl. Cyclopaedia Amer. Biog., 29 (1941); Milwaukee Journal, Aug. 23, 1902, Aug. 8, 1924.

[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]
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