Claude P. Hancock (C.P. Hancock and Son), Riverside Yard
Riverside Machine Brick Company
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. Over the years, Hancock apparently mined clay from several different pits around
Riverside. The earliest one was in the vicinity of North Market Street, another near 14th and High streets,
and the last was at the north end of Lemon Street. One of the clay deposits was described as loam five feet thick
and covered six acres of ground. The pit near 14th and High streets covered 14 acres of ground. The red clay was
mined with a steam shovel to depths of 10 or 20 feet.
In 1900, the Riverside Machine Brick Company was organized by C.P. Hancock as president, A.A. Caldwell as
secretary, and C. Kennedy as treasurer, with a capital of $10,000. This company built a plant near 14th and High
streets. They used an Anderson horizontal brick machine with a capacity of 25,000 to 40,000 bricks per day. A 30 h.p.
engine was used to force the flames through the kilns and oil was used as fuel. They had planned to install a press to
make fancy bricks.
By 1908, Hancock had moved to the clay pit near Lemon Street. The brick plant was powered by a 35-h.p. engine and
equipped with an 80-h.p. boiler. Initially, a Potts soft-mud brick machine was used to mold the bricks, but this was
changed to a stiff-mud extruder and wire-cutter in the 1920s. The wet bricks were air-dried and burned in open kilns.
Initially, oil was the fuel used in the kilns, but that was changed to natural gas in the 1920s. The plant started with a
capacity of 36,500 bricks per day, but by 1928, it had increased to 43,000 bricks per day.
The Hancock brickyard operated with 20 to 30 men, depending on demand. They produced only red common brick and
some of the earlier bricks were marked with the name HANCOCK on the face of the brick. When son Donald came of age
in the 1920s, he became the proprietor of the Hancock 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 Highrove (see Hancock Brick Co. under San Bernardino
County for details). Hancock bricks supplied most of the building bricks in Riverside and vicinity. Today, only the
depressions of the abandoned clay pits in Riverside can be seen and are now covered with residential homes.
Hancock Common Brick
Common brick is a pale red, uniform color, with sand-struck surfaces, some displaying sparkly mica flakes. The edges are
slightly undulatory and dull and the corners are dull. The sides and ends show no marks. The top face is pitted with minor
cracks and transverse striation marks. Stack indents were seen on the top face of one sample. The bottom face is marked with
a beveled rectangular frog, 6 3/8 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 1/16 to 1/4 inch deep. Centered in the frog are raised
block letters of HANCOCK, with the name found in varying sizes. In the smaller marked brick, the letters span 5 1/2 inches
in length and 3/4 inch in height. In the middle range, the letters span 5 3/4 inches in length and 1 1/8 inches in height.
In the larger marked brick, the letters span 6 inches in length and 1 1/4 inches in height. The clay body is very fine with
occassional (3 percent) rounded, clear to white quartz up to 1/16 inch across. I estimate that these marked bricks
were probably made between 1908 and 1925, using the hand-molded, sand-struck, soft-mud process. Length 8 - 8 1/4, width 3 3/4,
height 2 3/8 - 2 1/2 inches.
View of the marked face of a Hancock brick. Donated by Marcia Miller.
View of the side of a Hancock brick.
View of the end of a Hancock brick.
View of the pitted top face of a Hancock brick covered in part with white mortar.
Hancock Wire-Cut Brick
Hancock wire-cut bricks were reported by Ronald and Josh Higgins, who sent pictures of a wall of a restaurant in Orange,
California. The bricks came in shades orange red mottled with white, brown, blue, and green coatings. The sides are smooth and the faces
show wire-cut marks. The edges are straight and sharp. The corners are sharp, if not broken. Some sides display a worm texture (rounded long depressions),
pits, transverse grooves, and white lime splashes or streaks. Some are coated with a unique bluish or greenish tint. This brick
was made using the stiff-mud process, extruded, and wire-cut. No dimensions are available.
View of the sides of Hancock bricks showing a range of colors and textures. Photo courtesy of Josh Higgins.
View of the sides of Hancock bricks showing the unique fired bluish and
greenish coatings that the company invented. Photo courtesy of Josh Higgins.
Aubrey, Lewis E., The Structural and Industrial Materials of California,
California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 38, 1906, p. 252.
Copyright © 2008 Dan Mosier
Brick and Clay Record, v. 32, no. 1, July 1899, p. 34.
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.
Higgins, Josh, written communications, 2012.
Miller, Marcy, 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.