California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Hancock Brick Company (C.P. Hancock and Son), Highgrove Yard

History


In the 1890s, Claude P. Hancock, born in 1867 and a native of Indiana, was a building contractor who opened a brickyard in Riverside. He married Margaret Welbourne in 1893, and they had two children, Beatrice and Donald. Their residence was at 1330 Lemon Street in Riverside. When son Donald, born in 1900 and a native of Riverside, came of age in the 1920s, he became the proprietor of the Hancock Riverside brickyard, and the firm's name was changed to C.P. Hancock and Son. It was at this time that the brick plant was modernized. By 1928, the clay deposit in Riverside had been exhausted and a new deposit was found in Highgrove, San Bernardino County. The clay was trucked to the Riverside plant from Highgrove until 1956, when the plant was moved to Highgrove.

The Highgrove brickyard was located at 21516 Main St., near the intersection with Highland Avenue, in the western part of Highgrove. The loam deposit was mined from a large pit. The brick plant was built east of the pit. There is no description of this plant, but the samples of bricks found on the site reveal that it was a modern brick plant using stiff-mud extruding machines and wire cutters, with dies to make different shapes. Both face-cut and end-cut bricks were made here. This plant did not mark the bricks. The number and type of kilns used here are unknown. The bricks made at the Riverside yard from 1928 to 1956 are probably indistinguishable from those made at the Highgrove yard, both using the same clay and similar extruding machines.

In 1956, the company was run by Donald Hancock. He changed the name to the Hancock Brick Company. Like the early Riverside yard, they probably operated the brickyard on demand. They made common brick, textured brick, and bricks and blocks of odd shapes. The Hancock Brick Company operated into the 1960s. Donald Hancock passed away in Riverside in 1974. He married in 1923 to wife Neva and they had a daughter Elizabeth. The clay pit remains as the only evidence of the Hancock brickyard in Highgrove.


Hancock Bricks

Common Brick

Common brick is a dull orange, uniform color, with smooth extruded surfaces and curved wire-cut faces. The edges are straight and sharp, though often chipped, and the corners are dull. The sides and ends are smooth with fine transverse striations and minor pits. The faces display a slight velour texture with pits and about one percent white to clear, rounded quartz, up to 1/8 inch across. The clay body is fine, compact, and contains some scattered rounded white quartz. This brick was made using the extruded, wire-cut, stiff-mud process. Length 8 1/4, width 3 7/8, height 2 1/2 inches.

Hancock common brick
View of the wire-cut face of a Hancock common brick.

Hancock common brick
View of the smooth side of a Hancock common brick.


Hancock common brick
View of the smooth end of a Hancock common brick.


Perforated Brick

The perforated brick is a dull orange, uniform color, with smooth extruded surfaces and curved wire-cut faces. The edges are straight and sharp, though often chipped, and the corners are dull. The sides and ends are smooth but somewhat lumpy, with minor pits and cracks. One sample showed stack indentation on one side. The faces display a slight velour texture with pits and about five percent white to clear, rounded quartz, up to 1/8 inch across. Centered on the face are three round perforations spanning a length of 4 5/7 inches. The perforations are 7/8 inch across and 7/8 inch apart from each other. This brick was probably made from 1950 to 1960s, using the extruded, wire-cut, stiff-mud process. Length 8, width 3 5/8, height 2 1/2 inches.

Hancock perforated brick
View of the face of a Hancock perforated brick.


Rug Brick

The rug brick is a dull orange, uniform color. The edges are straight and sharp, though often chipped, and the corners are dull. The faces display curved wire cut marks with a slight velour texture, along with pits and about five percent white to clear, rounded quartz and cream to yellow feldspar, up to 1/8 inch across. One side is smooth with longitudinal striations and stack indentations. The other side and one of the ends have deep transverse grooves about 1/16 inch wide and 1/4 inch apart. There are about 5 grooves per inch. The end display 15 evenly spaced transverse grooves. The clay body is granular with scattered quartz and feldspar. This brick was made using the extruded, wire-cut, stiff-mud process. Length broken, width 3 7/8, height 2 3/8 inches.

Hancock rug brick
View of the end of a Hancock rug brick.


Bark Textured Long Brick

The bark textured long brick is a dull orange, uniform color, of unusual length of 9 inches. The edges are straight and sharp, though often chipped, and the corners are dull. The faces are smooth with longitudinal grooves, minor pits, and about three percent white, rounded quartz, cream to yellow feldspar, black iron, and red brick fragments, up to 1/4 inch across. One of the sides is smooth with some lumps and displays a belt impression. The other side displays a rough bark texture. Both ends show curved wire-cut marks, a slight velour texture, and minor pits. This brick was made using the extruded, wire-cut, stiff-mud process. Length 9, width 3 3/8, height 2 1/8 inches.

Hancock bark-textured long brick
View of the pitted and grooved face of a Hancock bark textured long brick.

Hancock bark-textured long brick
View showing the bark textured side of a Hancock bark textured long brick.

Hancock bark-textured long brick
View of the wire-cut end of a Hancock bark textured long brick.


Bark Textured Block

The bark textured block is a dull orange, uniform color. The edges are straight and sharp, though often chipped, and the corners are dull. Two adjacent sides are smooth with longitudinal cracks, minor pits, and one displays a belt impression. The other two adjacent sides display a rough bark texture with a few longitudinal grooves. The ends display curved wire-cut marks, slight velour texture, and minor pits. The clay body is very fine with about five percent white, rounded quartz, cream to yellow feldspar, black iron, granitic rock fragments, and red brick fragments, up to 1/16 inch across. This brick was made using the extruded, wire-cut, stiff-mud process. Length broken, width 3 1/2, height 3 1/2 inches.

Hancock bark-textured block
View of the bark textured side of a Hancock bark textured block.

Hancock bark-textured block
View of the smooth and pitted side of a Hancock bark textured block.

Hancock bark-textured block
View of the wire-cut end of a Hancock bark textured block.


References

American Ceramic Society Bulletin, v. 44, no. 5, 1965, p. 471.

Aubrey, Lewis E., The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 38, 1906, p. 252.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 32, no. 1, July 1899, p. 34.

Davis, Fenelon F., and Goldman, Harold B., Directory of Mineral Producers In California For 1960, 1961, and 1962, California Division of Mines and Geology, 58th Report of the State Geologist, 1966, p. 138.

Dietrich, Waldemar F., The Clay Resources and the Ceramic Industry of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 99, 1928, p. 181.

Federal Census Records, 1900.

Federal Census Records, 1910.

Federal Census Records, 1920.

Federal Census Records, 1930.

Freedner, James, written communications, 2008.

Symons, Henry H., California Mineral Production for 1927, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 101, 1928, p. 264.

Symons, Henry H., and Davis, Fenelon F., Directory of Mineral Producers In California During 1956, California Division of Mines, California Journal of Mines and Geology, v. 54, no. 1, 1958, p. 128.

Copyright 2008 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.