California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


John Cradwick

History


John Cradwick was a native of Northamptonshire, England, born in 1829. He married Miriam Pole in England and they had a son and a daughter. After coming to the United States, he was naturalized in 1856 and resided in Illinois. In 1866, he came to California and, in 1870, he was farming near Yountville, Napa County, California. In 1875, the Cradwick family moved to Winters in Yolo County, where John purchased 26 acres of land to raise vegetables and manufacture bricks. John Cradwick died in 1915 and is interred in the cemetery at Winters.

Cradwick manufactured bricks from the material on his property from 1875 to the 1890s. The material was a clayey loam with clay subsoil, about 20 feet thick, on the north side of Putah Creek. Red common bricks were formed in wooden molds and fired in open field kilns burning oak and pine wood. It required 50 cords of wood to burn 100,000 bricks. The bricks were consumed locally in the Winters area, where the market was relatively small.

View of the Cradwick Building at Winters.
View of the Cradwick Building at Winters.

View of the brickwork on the front Cradwick Building at Winters.
View of the brickwork on the front of the Cradwick Building at Winters.

Examples of Cradwick brick can be seen today in the Cradwick Building at 23 Main Street in Winters. This building survived the earthquakes of 1892 and 1906, though it suffered major damage and falling bricks killed a person in the rear of the building in 1892. In 1998, the building was renovated with seismic retrofitting.

Historic plaque on the Cradwick Building at Winters.
Historic plaque on the Cradwick Building gives the history of the building.

Brick

Common brick is orange-red and mostly uniform in color. Some may be partially or completely burnt to a dark gray color. The form is good with undulating surfaces and edges, which are sharp. Corners are dull. The bricks are distinctively thin. Surfaces contain some pits ranging up to 1/2 inch in diameter. The surface appears to be water-struck by the absence of sand. Transverse striations may be present on the sides. Thin irregular lip may be present around the top edges of some bricks, but most show no lip. Transverse cracks appear in some bricks. Faces were not observed for description. The interior consists of 1 percent subrounded white quartz, less than 1/8 inch in diameter, and about 3 percent round pores, in a fine orange-red clay body. This brick was made by the soft-mud process. Length 8 5/8, width 3 3/4, height 2 inches.

View of the sides of Cradwick brick in the side wall of the Cradwick Building at Winters.
View of the sides of Cradwick brick in the side wall of the Cradwick Building at Winters.

View of the sides of Cradwick brick in the side wall of the Cradwick Building at Winters.
View of the sides of Cradwick brick in the side wall of the Cradwick Building at Winters. Note the burnt
ends in the center row. Clay body interiors can be seen in the center top row and center bottom row.

References

California Death Index, 1905-1939.

Federal Census Records, 1870.

Federal Census Records, 1880.

Federal Census Records, 1910.

Find A Grave, John Cradwick, www.findagrave.com.

Gilbert, Frank T., The Illustrated Atlas and History of Yolo County, DePue and Company, San Francisco, 1879.

Watts, William L., Yolo County, California State Mining Bureau 10th Report of the State Mineralogist, 1890, p. 791-792.

Copyright 2016 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.