Robert J. Baptista Collection, 1915-1918


Title: Robert J. Baptista Collection, 1915-1918

Collection Number: Kingsport Community Manuscript Collection (KCMC) 323

Physical Description: 2 boxes (4 folders, 46 negatives, 2 CDs, 2 8 x 10 photographs)

Creator: Robert J. Baptista

Repository: Archives of the City of Kingsport



Provenance: Robert J. Baptista donated the materials to the Archives of the City of Kingsport in February and March 2008.

Access/Restrictions: There are no restrictions on use of this collection for research purposes. The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Processed by: Brianne Johnson processed the collection and developed the finding aid in March 2008.



This collection should be cited as:

Robert J. Baptista Collection, 1915-1918. KC Manuscript Collection 323, Archives of the City of Kingsport, Tennessee.



The Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Corporation was incorporated in Delaware on October 4, 1915, with an impressive capitalization of $15 million. The company acquired 200 acres of land in Kingsport, Tennessee bordering the HolstonRiver and served by the recently completed Carolina, Clinchfield, and Ohio Railroad.  The ambitious plans included production of dyestuffs, pharmaceuticals, and even inorganic chemicals such as barium chloride and blanc fixe. Construction was started in November 1915 and by the end of 1916 the company had erected 29 buildings for the production of chemicals, intermediates and dyestuffs.  This was the first manufacturing facility built in Kingsport.

The site was strategically located for the supply of the basic raw materials for coal tar dyes:  coal, sulfur, and salt.  The plant produced caustic soda, chlorine, sodium, hydrochloric acid (40,000 pounds daily capacity), and nitric acid.  The electrochemical unit consumed 5,000 kw of
electricity in its operation.  Labor conditions were very favorable for this location.  The staff consisted of 35 chemists and 1,000 workers.  Since Kingsport was undeveloped at the time, the company built its own guest house for visitors, a two-story building with sleeping porches.  The
facility also served as a clubhouse for entertaining executives.

On August 15, 1918 the plant was sold to a syndicate consisting mainly of the New York noteholders.  The company was named Union Dye and Chemical Corporation, with capitalization of $3 million and an office in New York.  Everly M. Davis was President.  The assets of Federal Dyestuff and Chemical were acquired for $1 million.  Union Dye and Chemical said it would spend $600,000 for expansion of the plant and that it had government contracts to supply sulfur blues and khaki dyestuffs.

In January 1919, Chester A. Jayne, vice president of Ralph L. Fuller & Co., was elected president.  The company began specializing in Sulfur Blue 4 Conc., one of the best sulfur blues offered.  The sale of the product was through the company’s agent Ralph L. Fuller & Co., New York. But when the war ended in November 1918, Union Dye and Chemical was burdened by high inventory of dyestuffs and cancellation of orders for explosives.  In June 1919, the company suspended plant operations until its claim for $2 million against the government could be collected. Manufacturing was resumed in November 1919, but on a reduced scale with only 150 workers in the sulfur black and aniline units.

Union Dye and Chemical went bankrupt in 1921 and was sold at auction for only $200,000.  The interests that purchased the plant planned to operate under the name of Kingsport Color Corporation.  This venture also failed. A portion of the plant property is now occupied by the
adjoining Eastman Chemical company, then known as Tennessee Eastman.  The remainder of the site was eventually demolished and became a residential area.


**Information obtained from, written and maintained by Robert J. Baptista.



The Robert J. Baptista Collection contains copies of incorporation documents for Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Corporation in the Delaware and Tennessee. The collection also contains 46 negatives depicting the Union Dye and Chemical Company plant and employees. The negatives were purchased by Mr. Baptista from a seller who obtained them from the estate of James J. Bajda, technical director of the plant. There are two CDs that contain scanned images of the negatives and two 8 x 10 photographs.



Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Corporation (Kingsport, Tenn.)
Union Dye and Chemical Corporation (Kingsport, Tenn.)
Kingsport (Tenn.)–Industries.


Box 1.

1. a. Certificate of incorporation in State of Delaware, October 2, 1915

b. Certificates of amendment, November 12, 1915

c. Certificate of dissolution, September 18, 1916

2. a. Certificates of incorporation in the State of Tennessee, May 22, 1916

b. Certificate of amendment, May 29, 1916

c. Certificate of amendment, December 14, 1916

3. a. State of Tennessee, file record of corporate fees paid, circa, 1917

b. State of Tennessee: Foreign Corporation #96: Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Corporation,

circa. 1918

4. a. Photograph, James J. Bajda, 1918

b. Photograph, worker at ump, 1918

c. CD # 1, negatives 1-22

d. CD # 2, negatives 23-46


Box 2 (Negatives – all dated 1918)

1. Workers discharge product

2. Distillation tower

3. Worker at horizontal tank

4. Worker at pump

5. Rotary Mixer

6. Tanks and wood barrels

7. Hot air dryer and wood barrels

8. Worker posing at clarification filter press

9. Worker near belt drive

10. Worker at pipe valve

11. Worker at platform railing

12. Working standing on platform

13. Worker (foreman) at steam turbine

14. Foreman and workers at coal-fired boiler

15. Two unidentified men in lab

16. Lab supervisor and technician

17. James J. Bajda, technical director, in lab

18. Lab supervisor at desk

19. Unidentified men in lab

20. Lab supervisor and man in lab

21. Lab equipment on bench

22. Unidentified woman at desk

23. Vertical chute to horizontal dryer below

24. Beehive shaped equipment

25. James J. Bajda on horse

26. Company men with horses, James J. Bajda in center

27. Insulated reactors

28. Worker inside equipment

29. Electric motor control center

30. Distillation tower

31. Worker

32. Worker at chain sprocket drive

33. Process piping

34. Process equipment

35. View of reactor top

36. Swieco compressor

37. Equipment on upper platform

38. Filter press to collect wet dye

39. Worker atop hot air or vacuum shelf dryer

40. Air compressor

41. Steam engine for equipment drive shaft

42. Chain driven equipment

43. Agitated wood tank on platform

44. Small horizontal tubs

45. Tanks on upper platform

46. Worker looking down at equipment