J.F. Pyle Cannery

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Summary
Business

Dried Fruit Packer
Main Location

San Jose
Active

< 1901 - 1923
Brands

Rely, Kantreli[1], R-bst
Aliases

J.F. Pyle and Son
Successors

Barron-Gray Packing Company

The J. F. Pyle Cannery was an early San Jose canner. Pyle was a San Jose orchardist with land on King Road at Maybury Road in Berryessa, at other sites on the east side of the valley[2]. The principal behind the cannery was John Francis Pyle, with assistance from his sons Frank and Harry Pyle. Pyle was growing tomatoes on land near Story and McLaughlin, and also had apple and other fruit orchards in Watsonville and Pacheco Pass. When one year's tomato crop was not purchased by a local cannery, Pyle decided to try canning his own tomatoes, and began the business[3]. J.F. Pyle & Son was officially incorporated in 1904[4]. The company operated at the farm until 1907, when they moved to a plant at Martha and Fifth.

Western Canner and Packer described a large addition to their cannery planned in 1918, probably the former Figprune Cereal Co. plant[5]. In 1922, 300 people worked there during the season. The manager in 1922 was Harry Pyle[6], and superintendent was E. G. Pyle. They started construction of a new building at Fourth and Margaret in 1922, encouraged by a large tomato pack the previous year[7]. A "George T. Pyle" worked for the cannery, and left in 1919 to work at the Seabright cannery in Santa Cruz[8]. The company also apparently canned pineapple, with references to pineapple thefts by a roofer in December 1922[9].

John Francis Pyle died on July 8, 1921[10]. The company was sold to Barron Gray in early 1923[11]. Harry Pyle declared that they might reopen the cannery at some point, but the family had been frustrated at being stuck between high labor costs and high fruit prices[12]

"While we have not yet signed papers with Mr. Barron and Mr. Gray," said Harry Pyle today, "we have just come to terms. We are selling just our plant - nothing else. Our labels, trade, etc. we retain... we are getting out at present because we are tired of being squeezed... When it comes to hiring labor and making improvements we have the American plan on one side and the labor unions on the other. Then when it comes to buying and selling our fruit we have the fruit associations, who as a steep price for their fruit, on one side and the fruit jobbers on the other and we are between the upper and lower mill stones and are squeezed. So we don't want any more of the game for the present."

The Pyle family retained the labels and brands, and claimed that some of the money would be used for patent disputes. The plant eventually became the Dole cannery. Harry Pyle went on to run the United States Products cannery upon its opening.

Locations

Location Years Address Details
San Jose 1901, 1902, 1904 King Road at Mabury Road[13]
San Jose 1906, 1923, 1924 Martha and Fifth St

Sold to Barron Gray

San Jose 1907, 1922 Fourth and Martha

Northeast corner.

References

  1. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents, 1916.
  2. January 29, 1902 Evening News
  3. Pyle Plant of Interesting Pioneer Origin: July 25, 1919 San Jose Evening News
  4. February 26, 1904 San Francisco Call: "SAN JOSE, Feb. 25.— J. F. Pyle & Son today filed articles of incorporation, with a capital stock of $30,000. for canning fruits and vegetable?, with place of business In this city.
  5. Pyle Plant of Interesting Pioneer Origin: July 25, 1919 San Jose Evening News
  6. Berryessa: Eugene T. Sawyer, History of Santa Clara County, California, 1922, Historic Record Co.
  7. Pyle Cannery to Build Extension: February 12, 1919 San Jose Evening News
  8. January 9, 1919 Santa Cruz Evening News
  9. Stole Pineapple: December 5, 1922 San Jose Evening News. "His appetite for canned pineapple yesterday proved the undoing of Ernest Grubert, who for several days had been employed as a roofer at the Pyle cannery. Several tins of the pineapple were missing and yesterday, according to the officers who made the arrest, Grubert was caught in the act of stealing them."
  10. One of San Jose's Pioneer Canners Passes Away: July 16, 1921 California Fruit News
  11. Northern California Canneries: March 1923 Western Canner and Packer
  12. Pyle Cannery Will Change Ownership: February 9, 1922 San Jose Evening News.
  13. 1901 San Jose City Directory