Amole Mexican Soap Co. Became Ohio's House of Lowell Cosmetics

The Mexican Amole Soap Company of Peoria Illinois eventually became the House of Lowell Cosmetics Company in Ohio.

But first, what's AMOLE? 

[Bud and flower of the Wavy-leafed Soap PlantChlorogalum pomeridianum. Clipped and reduced from a photograph taken by Stephen Lea]
Wikipedia tells us: Mexican Amole is a plant with scientific name Chlorogalum. They are native to western North America, from Oregon to Baja California, and are mostly found in California. Commonly referred to as SOAP ROOT. It is its own species now, but was originally classified in the Lily family.
Soaproot had a diverse range of uses. The tough fibers surrounding the underground bulb were used for creating the predominant brushes used by so many Native California Groups used in the processing of the important food of acorn flour. The second most important use of soaproot was the use of the raw soaproot bulb as a shampoo or soap for body cleansing. The saponins present in the raw bulbs would produce a substantial lather when agitated with water. These same saponins also worked as an effective fish stunning chemical. The Native California groups would pulverize the bulb, mix it in water to create a foam, and then add the suds to a stream. This would incapacitate the fish by blocking the oxygen absorption in the gills, which would cause the fish to be stupefied and to float to the surface for easy gathering.

Other companies had products that used Amole in the name, but we're just going to look at the Mexican Amole Company, started by Abraham Brayshaw.

"The Mexican Amole Soap Company of Peoria, of which Abraham Brayshaw is President and General Manager, is entitled to more than passing consideration, for the manner of its conduct, and the excellence of its productions.

From a long line of ambitious ancestors, devoted to the manufacture of cloth, Mr. Brayshaw inherits the requisite force of character, tact, and knowledge of human nature, for the management of a concern fast attaining a world-wide reputation. He was born in England, December 21, 1838, and is a son of Benjamin and Anna (Berry) Brayshaw, who were also born and reared in England. It was but natural that Abraham Brayshaw should emulate the example of his forefathers, and, for some time at least, engage in the manufacture of cloth. Of the twelve children in the family he was the one exception who found a larger field of enterprise in America, and he came hither when thirty years of age as superintendent of the woolen mill of James Standring, in New York. At the expiration of two years he came to Illinois and located in Peoria, and until 1884 engaged with varying success in the carpet business. In the meantime, about nineteen years ago, he became interested in the prospects of a company organized for the manufacture of a high-grade soap, and which was incorporated under the firm name of Albaugh’s Mexican Soap Company, the president being M. H. Haverhill. The realization of the original promoters falling far short of expectations, and more or less money being lost in a venture at bottom containing real merit, an emergency was created into which the shrewd business sagacity and common sense principles of Mr. Brayshaw came in recognition of an undeveloped opportunity. When the new order of things was brought about the name also was changed to that under which the firm now conducts its business.

The Mexican Amole Soap Company’s products have long since passed the experimental stage, and have stood the test and approbation of several years. At the present time the company does a business amounting to $100,000 per annum, and, judging from the unprecedented increase within the last two or three years, much larger returns may be expected in the near future. Much of the soap manufactured is composed entirely of vegetable ingredients derived from the Mexican Amole Soap tree, the peculiar qualities of which are utilized by a patent process. Aside from bath and toilet soaps, the latter of which is best represented by the fragrant and refreshing Amole-ine, a shaving soap has been perfected by the company which not only gives a fine and lasting lather, but is as well a great skin tonique. The Amole Shampoo is most efficacious for all scalp disorders; the Amole Rose Cream is an excellent balm for the skin, and the Amole-ine Washing Powder is unexcelled for the laundry. As evidencing the more than local prominence of the articles manufactured by this enterprising firm, it is necessary only to state that the United States Army specifications for 1901, for supplies to be furnished to the post commissaries of our American and foreign possessions, call for an amount of Amole soap larger than all other kinds combined, the soap specified being the Amole Diamond King. The soaps turned out from this factory, which has the most modern equipments possible, are in demand in all parts of the world, large shipments being made daily to different parts of the United States, Canada and Cuba, as well as frequent consignments to England, France, Germany, Australia and the Philippines. It will thus be seen that, in the war of competition, Peoria may boast an enterprise in this line based upon genuine superiority, and therefore of lasting benefit at home and abroad."*
*This info is from the Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, Volume 2, Part 2 By Newton Bateman, Paul Selby, published in 1902 / read it here on googlebooks / page 485 was transcribed by Danni Hopkins here:


Joe Clevenger shares with us his research, below, on how Brayshaw's company became Ohio's House of Lowell Company, known to bottle collectors by its common but interesting cosmetics and perfume bottles, figural or in cobalt blue glass.

This is an image - read the article as a pdf with a few more photos, here.

Read about the Amole Company's bankruptcy here.

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