Pure Oil

Last updated
Vintage Pure Oil sign located at Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Richfield, Ohio. Pure Oil sign.jpg
Vintage Pure Oil sign located at Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Richfield, Ohio.

Pure Oil Company was an American petroleum company founded in 1914 and sold to what is now Union Oil Company of California in 1965. The Pure Oil name returned in 1993 as a cooperative (based in Rock Hill, South Carolina since 2008) which has grown to supply 350 members in 10 Southern states. [1]



Postcard showing a Pure Oil station and a lunch counter, ca. 1930-1945. Palmer's Lunch, U.S. Highway 21, Byesville, Ohio.jpg
Postcard showing a Pure Oil station and a lunch counter, ca. 1930-1945.

Three companies operating in the United States have used the Pure Oil name. The first began as a group of independent oil refiners, producers, and pipeline operators, in fall 1895 in Butler, Pennsylvania, with headquarters in Pittsburgh, although it was incorporated in New Jersey. Pure was organized by independent interests to counter to the dominance of Standard Oil Company in the Pennsylvania oil fields, and was the second vertically integrated oil company (after Standard) in the region. [2] Operations were based in Oil City, Pennsylvania. David Kirk was elected the first president. He was succeeded in 1896 by James W. Lee.

Pure Oil sold illuminating oil in Philadelphia and New York City. The company also built bulk terminals in Amsterdam and Hamburg and competed in Europe with Standard Oil, the Nobel and Rothschild families, and Deutsche Bank.

Pure Oil Producing Co. was incorporated in 1902. In 1904 a refinery was built on the Delaware River which received 600 barrels per day (95 m3/d) from the United States Pipe Line. This increased to 1,800 barrels per day (290 m3/d) by 1906. The Pennoil tanker delivered oil to Europe.

Beman Gates Dawes and his brothers, whose Columbus-based Ohio Cities Gas Company had begun in 1914, made an offer of $24.50 a share for the company. Dawes was building an Oklahoma refinery, and Pure Oil had production capabilities there which would benefit his company. The Pennsylvania company accepted the offer and made $22 million in profit on the sale. [3]

A standard cottage-style service station in Monroe, Wisconsin, built in 1935. Freitag's Oil Service Station.JPG
A standard cottage-style service station in Monroe, Wisconsin, built in 1935.

In 1920, Ohio Cities Gas Company's name changed to Pure Oil. In 1926, the headquarters moved to Chicago. Refineries were located in Ohio, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Texas. A Pure Oil Gas Station, built in 1933 and located at Saratoga Springs, New York, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. [4]

In the late 1920s Pure Oil made a contract to deliver gasoline and oil to another Ohio gasoline company, Hickok Oil Corporation of Toledo Ohio. The contract called for Pure Oil to be paid in stock such that on August 1, 1945, Pure Oil would own Hickok. When Pure Oil took control of Hickok they rebranded the "Hi-Speed" gas stations as "Pure". The Hi-Speed stations were built of white-glazed brick, with an iconic square tower over the door, about 1/4 the width of the building and slightly taller than the height of the rest of the building which had a flat roof. [5] [6]

By the 1960s, sales were $700 million a year, and Pure Oil ranked as one of the country's 100 largest industrial companies. Over 1,000 worked in the Chicago area. The headquarters at that time were located in unincorporated Palatine, Illinois now Schaumburg, Illinois, in a building which is now a campus of Roosevelt University. The company motto was "Be sure with Pure."

Union Oil Company of California purchased Pure Oil in 1965. Shortly after acquisition by Union Oil, Pure Oil's Refining & Marketing operations became the Pure Oil Division of Union Oil Company of California with the Pure Oil name continuing in full force. By 1970, the Pure Oil brand was phased out, and remaining service stations and auto/truck stops were rebranded as Union 76. The Pure Oil Division was merged with Union Oil's west coast Refining & Marketing division to become the Union 76 division.

After 1970, the Pure Oil name was retained as a registered trademark, while the Firebird brand name was retained and used primarily for motor oils and lubricants that were not extensively marketed toward consumers.

In 1992, Unocal announced plans to end Southeast operations. [7] The 76 brand is currently owned by Phillips 66 while Unocal was later bought by Chevron Corporation.

In 1996, Pure Oil became the holding company for three independent pipeline companies. By 1997, operations in Europe ended.

Pure, and later Union 76, was "The official fuel of NASCAR", a relationship that lasted over 50 years, ending in 2003. [8] Sunoco has since replaced 76 as the official fuel of NASCAR.

Pure Oil Jobbers Cooperative

The Southeastern Oil Jobbers Cooperative, Inc., began as a result of Unocal's departure from the Southeast. Independent operators wanted a cooperative "of marketers, by marketers, and for marketers", which would let members make decisions on their own. Each member joins by buying a share of stock and paying an initiation fee. Since 1996, the members have received a dividend every year. [9]

The cooperative provides signs and images to member stations for consistent marketing of its products. It has the right to the Pure brand name and Firebird logo for selling Pure and SOJO petroleum products in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. It also has the right to expand the use of the name and trademark anywhere in the United States. [10] [11]

In 2008, the cooperative had changed its name to Pure Oil Jobbers Cooperative and moved its headquarters to Rock Hill. [12]

See also

Pure Oil Service Station (disambiguation) Pure Oil Service Stations

Related Research Articles

Exxon American oil company

Exxon Corporation, formerly known as the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey until 1973, was an American oil company and descendant of Standard Oil which merged with Mobil to form ExxonMobil in 1999. Once one of the Seven Sisters that dominated the global petroleum industry, Exxon was one of the largest companies in the world, being one of the top five companies on Fortune 500 between the first edition of the list and the year of its merger with Mobil and reaching the #1 spot on the list a few years between 1970 and 1995.

Mobil Corporation was an American oil company that merged with Exxon in 1999 to form ExxonMobil. Prior to its merger with Exxon, Mobil was one of the Seven Sisters that dominated the global petroleum industry from the mid-1940s until the 1970s. As one of the 34 original companies to descend from the breakup of Standard Oil, Mobil was originally known as the Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony). Mobil credits itself with being the first company to introduce paying at the pump at its gas stations, as well as the first company to introduce a mobile payment device, today known as Speedpass.

Standard Oil Company, Inc., was an American oil production, transportation, refining, and marketing company that operated from 1870 to 1911. At its height, Standard Oil was the largest petroleum company in the world, and its success made its co-founder and chairman, John D. Rockefeller, one of the wealthiest Americans of all time and one of the richest people in modern history. Its history as one of the world's first and largest multinational corporations ended in 1911, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was an illegal monopoly.

Gulf Oil American oil company

Gulf Oil was a major global oil company from 1901 until March 15, 1985. The eighth-largest American manufacturing company in 1941 and the ninth-largest in 1979, Gulf Oil was one of the so-called Seven Sisters oil companies. Prior to its merger with Standard Oil of California, Gulf was one of the chief instruments of the Mellon family fortune; both Gulf and Mellon Financial had their headquarters in Pittsburgh.

Sunoco American distributor of motor fuels

Sunoco LP is an American master limited partnership organized under Delaware state laws and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, that is a wholesale distributor of motor fuels. It distributes fuel to more than 7,300 Sunoco-branded gas stations, almost all of which are owned and operated by third parties. The partnership is controlled by Energy Transfer Partners.

Union Oil Company of California, and its holding company Unocal Corporation, together known as Unocal was a major petroleum explorer and marketer in the late 19th century, through the 20th century, and into the early 21st century. It was headquartered in El Segundo, California, United States.

Esso Oil and gas company

Esso is a trading name for ExxonMobil. Originally, the name was primarily used by its predecessor Standard Oil of New Jersey after the breakup of the original Standard Oil company in 1911. The company adopted the name "Esso", to which the other Standard Oil companies would later object.

Chevron Corporation American multinational energy corporation

Chevron Corporation is an American multinational energy corporation. One of the successor companies of Standard Oil, it is headquartered in San Ramon, California, and active in more than 180 countries. Chevron is engaged in every aspect of the oil and natural gas industries, including hydrocarbon exploration and production; refining, marketing and transport; chemicals manufacturing and sales; and power generation. It was also one of the Seven Sisters that dominated the global petroleum industry from the mid-1940s to the 1970s.

Tesoro Corporation American energy company

Tesoro Corporation, known briefly as Andeavor, was a Fortune 100 and a Fortune Global 500 company headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, with 2017 annual revenues of $35 billion, and over 14,000 employees worldwide. Based on 2017 revenue, the company ranked No. 90 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.

76 (gas station) American gas station chain

76 is a chain of gas stations located within the United States. The 76 brand is owned by Phillips 66. Unocal, the original owner and creator of the 76 brand, merged with Chevron Corporation in 2005.

Shell USA United States-based subsidiary of Shell plc

Shell USA, Inc. is the United States-based wholly owned subsidiary of Shell plc, a transnational corporation "oil major" of Anglo-Dutch origins, which is amongst the largest oil companies in the world. Approximately 80,000 Shell employees are based in the U.S. Its U.S. headquarters are in Houston, Texas. Shell US, including its consolidated companies and its share in equity companies, is one of America's largest oil and natural gas producers, natural gas marketers, gasoline marketers and petrochemical manufacturers.

Marathon Petroleum American petroleum refining, marketing, and transportation company

Marathon Petroleum Corporation is an American petroleum refining, marketing, and transportation company headquartered in Findlay, Ohio. The company was a wholly owned subsidiary of Marathon Oil until a corporate spin-off in 2011.

Phillips 66 American multinational energy company

The Phillips 66 Company is an American multinational energy company headquartered in Westchase, Houston, Texas. It debuted as an independent energy company when ConocoPhillips executed a spin-off of its downstream and midstream assets. Its name dating back to 1927 as a trademark of the Phillips Petroleum Company, the newly reconfigured Phillips 66 began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on May 1, 2012, under the ticker PSX. The company is engaged in producing natural gas liquids (NGL) and petrochemicals. The company has approximately 14,000 employees worldwide and is active in the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Hess Corporation American global energy company

Hess Corporation is an American global independent energy company involved in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. It was formed by the merger of Hess Oil and Chemical and Amerada Petroleum in 1968. Leon Hess served as CEO from the early 1960s through 1995, after which his son John B Hess succeeded him as chairman and CEO.

Diamond Shamrock

Diamond Shamrock Corp. or Diamond Shamrock Refining and Marketing was an oil refinery and gas station company in the United States, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas.

Pennzoil American motor oil brand

Pennzoil is an American motor oil brand currently owned by Shell plc. The former Pennzoil Company had been established in 1913 in Pennsylvania, being active in business as an independent firm until it was acquired by Shell in 2002, becoming a brand of the conglomerate.

Humble Oil Defunct American oil company

Humble Oil and Refining Co. was an American oil company founded in 1911 in Humble, Texas. In 1919, a 50% interest in Humble was acquired by Standard Oil of New Jersey which acquired the rest of the company in September 1959 and merged with its parent to become Exxon Corporation in 1973.

Tosco Corporation

Tosco was an independent US based petroleum refining and marketing corporation based in Stamford, Connecticut. It was founded in 1955 in Santa Monica, California by A&P heir Huntington Hartford, and originally focused on extracting oil from oil shale and developing alternative energy sources.

United Refining Company American oil company

The United Refining Company (URC) is an oil company in Warren, Pennsylvania. The company operates an oil refinery in Warren that can process 70,000 barrels of oil into gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum distillates per day. It distributes gasoline under the Kwik Fill and Keystone brands. In early 2019, the American Automobile Association noted that Warren had the most expensive gasoline in Western Pennsylvania, despite the presence of the refinery in the town and a gasoline station just outside the refinery, the root cause of which remains undetermined.

Clark Brands

Clark Brands, formerly Clark Oil, began as Clark's Super Gas and was a 20th-century oil company headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


  1. "Be Sure with Pure". Pure Oil Jobbers Cooperative. Archived from the original on 1 February 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  2. Yergin, Daniel (2008). The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power. New York: Free Press. pp. 64–65. ISBN   978-1439110126.
  3. "Pure Oil Company". Oil Region Alliance. Archived from the original on 9 April 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  4. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  5. Image of Hi-Speed station at
  6. Hickok Oil Corporation V. Commissioner Of Internal Revenue. (1941-06-05). "HICKOK OIL CORPORATION v. | 120 F.2d 133 (1941) | 0f2d1331218". Leagle.com. Retrieved 2022-08-12.
  7. "A Pure History". Pure Oil Jobbers Cooperative. Archived from the original on 23 August 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  8. "NASCAR News & Media". NASCAR Media Group. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  9. "The Founding of the SOJC". Pure Oil Jobbers Cooperative. Archived from the original on 9 September 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  10. "The Pure Brand and Firebird Trademark". Pure Oil Jobbers Cooperative. Archived from the original on 14 September 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  11. "Branding a Pure Site". Pure Oil Jobbers Cooperative. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  12. "Southeastern Oil Jobbers Cooperative changes name to PURE Oil Jobbers Cooperative, Inc" (PDF). The Pure Agenda. Vol. 1, no. 1. Spring 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2009-03-19.