John Pike, the common ancestor of the branch of the Pike family residing in Connecticut, settled in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1664. He was the progenitor of Jonas Pike, of Sturbridge, Massachusetts, who married a descendant of Peregrine White, the first white child born in New England. Their four sons were: David, Ephraim, Jonas and Jesse. There was also one daughter, Amy. David married Elizabeth Pitman, of Newport, Rhode Island. Their children were two sons, William and James Pitman; and two daughters, Lucy, wife of David Bayless, and Nancy, who married Abijah Prouty. William Pike left Sturbridge in 1810 and settled in Sterling. He learned from his father, who was by trade a hatter, the art of coloring. In the year 1811 he began the dyeing of cotton yarns and later assumed the charge of the dye house of the Sterling Manufacturing Company. Removing to Pawtucket he introduced the bleaching of cottons by chlorine, and thus superseded the primitive method of bleaching in the sun. In 1814 he was employed by the Sterling Manufacturing Company, and a year later started the manufacture of pyroligneous acid for the use of the dyers’ art. About this date he established the firm of William Pike & Co., for the manufacture of the above acid, in Sterling. He married Lydia Campbell, to whom were born five children, the only survivors being James, the subject of this biography, and William.
James Pike was born December 31st, 1826, in Sterling, the scene of his lifetime business experiences. After a season at the public schools he became a pupil of the Plainfield Academy and the Scituate Seminary. Soon after he found employment in the mills of the Sterling Manufacturing Company, and subsequently aided his father in the manufacture of chemicals. Meanwhile, by a series of experiments, he discovered a process of coloring black, which for permanency and general excellence was superior to any dye in use. He at once organized the Sterling Dyeing and Finishing Company, in which he holds the controlling interest and for which he is the agent. So favorably received was this new process that the capacity of the works was soon inadequate to the demand, and extensive additions have since been made, most of the buildings being substantial stone structures. To this business his time and attention are exclusively given.
Mr. Pike was married on the 10th of May, 1813, to Mary E., daughter of Abram Shepard, of Brooklyn, Connecticut. Their children were: J. Edward, who is engaged with his father in business; Lydia Campbell, wife of Claramon Hunt; Mary E.; Harriet E., wife of George Call; and one who is deceased. Mr. Pike is a republican in politics. He served as railroad commissioner from 1868 to 1871, has held various town offices and while a member of the state legislature served on the committee on banks. He is a member of Moriah Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Danielsonville, and a supporter of the Congregational church.