Graham N. Gleysteen, "Dyes at Marietta, Ohio", in Williams Haynes, American Chemical Industry, Vol. IV, D. Van Nostrand Co., New York, 1945, pp. 538-539:
In 1914 a small company in Marietta known as the Obex Labs. made finishes for straw hats. It was headed by George LaVallee, then in his early twenties, son of C. J. LaVallee, president of the Marietta Paint & Color Co. National Gum & Mica Co., through which LaVallee sold, interested him early in the war in making dyes from logwood and in 1915 a plant was started. The chemist brought in was one Irving Spencer Clope, who later disappeared from all eyes including those of the Department of Justice which was looking for him since 1917 as a suspected German agent.
The plant grew rapidly, but after the United States entered the World War the importation of logwood from Haiti became very irregular and finally stopped altogether. The company went bankrupt, causing a loss of about $750,000 to Marietta citizens. A committee of investors with one representative from each of Marietta's four banks attempted to run the company. Development work had been done on benzaldehyde and on malachite green. G. E. Hayward, president of one of Marietta's banks and an ex-engineer (civil), saw possibilities. With three partners he was the owner of a small oil-producing company, the Marietta Refining Co. He made an offer for the renting of the buildings and the assets of the Obex Co., and about the end of 1918 the Marietta Refining Co. took over.
Just at this time the plant of the Katzenstein family in Nyack, which had been manufacturing malachite green, burned. Hayward made a deal with them and brought their chemist, Nicholas Kalman, to Marietta. Dr. Kalman was given the management of the plant. He brought with him his assistants, Jacob Friedman and Morris Ellis.
Malachite green was soon made on a large scale. At the Chemical Show in Chicago in 1919 enormous crystal aggregates were exhibited. But in the summer of 1920 the market broke from $3.75 per pound to $1.05. The Marietta Refining Co. became insolvent, although it never went through a formal bankruptcy.
The company had worked out a process for auramine and to salvage what they could, the stockholders formed a new company, the Kerin Manufacturing Co., employing as manager A. J. Kerin, a Marietta business man, and as chemists, Ellis and Friedman. Dr. Kalman brought suit for breach of contract, but when the case was finally tried in Columbus in 1925, he lost.
At that time there were only two auramine makers in America and so this turned out to be a very profitable product even though yields were very low. The company also made malachite green. For these two dyes it bought dimethylaniline from Calco and became a substantial customer. In 1924 Friedman and Ellis resigned together with the sales manager, Joseph Hollywood, to form their own company, Coal Tar Dyes, Inc., which manufactured in Newark, N. J. This company discontinued in 1925.
When Messrs. Friedman and Ellis left, the Kerin Co. was in a difficult position. It employed G. N. Gleysteen as chemist and plant manager. While negotiating with him, Calco was asked to supply a chemist. This Calco was unable to do, but it did take an option on the company good for one year. The next year was extremely profitable and Calco saw fit to exercise its option.
In the meantime the dye rhodamine B had been worked out in the Kerin laboratory. When Calco bought the plant it was not interested in acquiring the rhodamine B process, being apparently desirous of taking only the dyes which used its important intermediate dimethylaniline. This seems odd since so many small companies and some larger ones had tried unsuccessfully to make this expensive dye. In fact only three companies in the United States ever successfully made rhodamine B; the two others, Newport and du Pont, by purchased processes.
Calco moved the machinery and stocks to Bound Brook. It left all the personnel and the buildings which were owned by the defunct Obex Co. bond holders. The Marietta Chamber of Commerce was extremely interested in retaining the business in Marietta. It backed Gleysteen in raising capital for a plant to make rhodamine B, using the personnel and buildings of the old Kerin Co. At the same time the newly organized General Dyestuff Corp. requested the new company to make auramine for it. So the Marietta Dyestuffs Co. was organized in 1926, with Charles F. Strecker, president of the Marietta Chamber of Commerce, as president, and Gleysteen as chief chemist and works manager.
The Marietta Dyestuffs Co. turned out to be a very profitable company. With Dr. Fierz-David, under whom Gleysteen studied at Zurich, as consultant, one by one it added other dyes: rhodamine 6GDN, the quinoline yellows, malachite and brilliant green acetate rayon colors, lake colors, such as permanent orange and lake red C, and others.
Update from ColorantsHistory.Org:
Graham N. Gleysteen (1898-1971), a native of Chicago, received a B. A. in chemistry at the University of Michigan in 1918. He began his career in chemistry with the Chicago dyestuff division of the Sherwin-Williams Co. and then worked for the American Vat Colors Co. From 1926 to 1940 Gleysteen was chief chemist and plant manager at the Marietta Dyestuffs Co., which manufactured products exclusively for the General Dyestuffs Corporation, which also sold dyes on behalf of the General Aniline and Film Corporation.
After leaving Marietta Dyestuffs, Gleysteen joined the Calco Chemical Co., owned by American Cyanamid, where he held the position of technical superintendent of the Bound Brook, New Jersey plant. In 1949 he joined the Grasselli (Linden), New Jersey plant of General Aniline & Film Corporation to improve production control and inventory management.
In 1920 Marietta Refining was making a range of dyes of which the most important were auramine yellow, malachite green, and brilliant green for paper and cotton. Sales were $650,000 and the annual payroll was $113,000. It is estimated the firm had around 50 wage employees and 10 salaried. The wage employees were paid $6.50 per day. The production of these dyes involved toxic raw materials and generated hazardous wastes.
Marietta Dyestuffs introduced methlyene blue, used for coloring paper, cotton and as a bacteriologic stain.
The synthetic steps in the manufacture of methylene blue generally include (1) nitrosation of dimethylaniline, (2) reduction to p-aminodimethylaniline, (3) oxidation in the presence of an excess of sodium thiosulfate to form 4-dimethylamino-1-amino-2-benzenethiosulfonic acid, (4) oxidation in the presence of dimethylaniline to form indamine thiosulfonic acid, and (5) ring closure to form methylene blue. Methylene blue is isolated by adding sodium chloride to make the zinc-free dye, or if the zinc salt is needed, zinc chloride is added to form the double salt [Kirk-Othmer, 1978].
In 1944 American Home Products acquired Marietta Dyestuffs Co. as a wholly owned subsidiary. American Cyanamid purchased the business in 1946. American Cyanamid exited the dyes business in the early 1980s. The 55-acre Marietta site is now owned by Cytec, successor to the chemical business of American Cyanamid. The dye buildings were demolished in the late 1990s.
The insecticide DDT was manufactured at the site from approximately 1937 to 1945. DDT has been found in water, sediment and fish in nearby Duck Creek. Over the years dye wastes were discharged in two lagoons and two solid waste disposal areas on the property. The site is currently undergoing environmental remediation under the guidance of the Ohio EPA. The Toll Compaction Group LLC recently announced a plan to utilize remaining Building No. 10 for blending, compacting and grinding chemicals into a powder form that is bagged for use by Cytec.
1) Testimony of George E. Hayward, Hearings Before the Committee on Finance, United States Senate, Tariff Act of 1921, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1922 2) "Former Altonite Has Important Job", Alton (Iowa) Democrat, February 3, 1949 3) "Ohio EPA Sampling Reveals Insecticide in Duck Creek", News Release of Ohio EPA, May 9, 2001