California brick

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".

Addington brown jug
View of a brown jug made by J.W. Orr, early 1860s. Photo courtesy of Jan Strickland.

Addington mark on brown jug
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.

Addington Brick

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.

Addington brick
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.

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.

Copyright 2006 Dan Mosier

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