Absalom M. Addington
Addington & Son
In 1859, Absalom M. Addington and J. W. Orr built brick kilns on Pony Brown Road, Michigan Bar, to
start a pottery firm which later became known as Addington & Son. This pottery was said to have been the
largest of its kind in California at that time. However, little is known about this pottery and its
workings. Thanks to Jan Strickland, an example of one of their products is shown below. It is a gallon
salt-glazed brown jug marked on the upper side with "J.W. Orr, Michigan Bar".
View of a brown jug made by J.W. Orr, early 1860s. Photo courtesy of Jan Strickland.
View of the mark of J.W. Orr, Michigan Bar. Photo courtesy of Jan Strickland.
Absalom Morgan Addington was born in Wayne County, Indiana, on September 28, 1824. In 1840, he began
to learn the trade of potter in Green County, Wisconsin. After two years, he went to work for two years
at a pottery in Fountain, Indiana, and attended school during the winter seasons. Over the next six years
Addington worked at different potteries in the East. The lure of gold brought him to California in 1850.
He returned to Knoxville, Illinois to marry Miss Martha Boyd in 1852. They returned to California and
had three sons and a daughter. Addington resumed mining for eight years, until he went to Michigan Bar
to help J. W. Orr build a pottery in 1859. Addington worked for Orr as a potter until 1865, when he
bought the pottery and land from Orr.
The clay was obtained from the clay pits in Michigan Bar and Amador County. Yellow firebrick
was made probably in field kilns and it is among the earliest firebrick made in California. Thanks to
Melody McDonald, an example of the Addington firebrick is shown below. One of Addington's
sons, Charlie Boyd Addington, learned the potter's trade from his father, and thus they became known
as Addington & Son starting about 1882. Addington & Son ceased operations in 1884, when he sold
his business to J. B. Williams. Addington later moved to Oakland.
Firebrick is yellow, mostly uniform in color. Surface contains minor white feldspar and black iron spots.
Interior clay body contains white and brown grog. Edges are straight, but corners may be rounded.
Brand name is stamped in block letters recessed in the center of the face. Outline of the name plate may be
visible. Dry pressed process. No measurements available.
View of the brand name on the face of Addington firebrick. Photo courtesy of Melody McDonald.
California Department of Parks and Recreation, California Historical Landmarks, Sacramento, 1979.
Copyright © 2006 Dan Mosier
Davis, W. J., An Illustrated History of Sacramento County, California,
Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago, Illinois, 1890, p. 487-488.
McDonald, Melody, written communications, 2004.
Strickland, Jan, written communication, 2011.
Thompson and West, History of Amador County, California, Oakland,
California, 1881, p. 192.