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Locke Brickyard

History


Luthur Locke Building at Lockeford
View of the Luthur Locke Building at Lockeford built in the 1880s and the
Ambrose General Merchandise Store built in 1882-1883 in the background.


Dean Jewett Locke, the founder of the town of Lockeford in San Joaquin County, established a brickyard on the southeast side of town about 1856. Dr. D.J. Locke was a native of Langdon, New Hampshire, and was born on April 16, 1823. He graduated from the medical department of Harvard College in 1849. He joined the California gold rush in April of 1849 and arrived in Sacramento in September of that year. Here he practiced medicine for a short time before heading for Downieville to try his luck at mining gold. Unsuccessful in finding gold, he settled on the Mokelumne River at the future site of Lockeford to maintain a ford and run a ferry service across the river. In 1854, Dr. Locke returned East to bring back his new bride, Miss Delia M. Hammond, and they had 13 children.

Dr. Locke had started a town near his ford and he needed bricks. In 1856, he hired a Chinese contractor and Chinese laborers to work at his brickyard. Six kilns were built next to the clay pit. Trees were cut for fuel. Common bricks were made for all of the original brick buildings in town.

In 1859, Locke's bricks were sent to be used in the Harmony Grove Church, which was erected by builder James Tallmadge. In 1862, the bricks were used to face the granary behind the Locke house. In 1865, Dr. Locke replaced his wooden house with a brick house on Elliott Road. In 1882-1883, Locke's bricks were used in the Ambrose (Goehring) general merchandise building on the northwest corner of Main and Tully Road. In the 1880s, the eldest son of Dr. Locke, Luther Locke, built the two-story brick building on the southwest corner of Main and Tully Road.

The character of the Locke brick changed over the 27-year period of the brickyard's operation. This may be due to mining different clay pits or obtaining materials from different sources and using different brickmakers. The bricks made in 1859 contain rocks such as sandstone and dark igneous rocks, and the surface was struck with water rather than sand. The bricks made in the 1880s contain mostly quartz and were struck with sand.

The brickyard probably closed after the last brick building was erected in 1883. Dr. Locke passed away on May 4, 1887 at the age of 64 years. Fortunately, many of the original brick buildings still stand in the Lockeford area today making this study possible.

Harmony Grove Church near Lockeford
View of the Harmony Grove Church near Lockeford built in 1859.


Locke Brick

The 1859 common brick is orange to orange red with a water struck surface. Some dark and light shades on the sides indicate side stacked bricks during firing. The brick is noticeably thin. The form is irregular with dull corners and edges. The top edges of the brick display an irregular lip up to 1/4 inch thick. Some bricks display an unusual thin bottom lip as well. The sides are smooth but often deeply pitted and heavily gouged and some contain cracks. Transverse striations are displayed on the sides. The top face is heavily and deeply pitted and most contain transverse or slanted strike marks, though some longitudinal strike marks are also present. This brick spalls easily and when the interior is exposed to weather it turns to powder. The interior of the brick is mostly a light orange fine clay with minor white quartz sand. When clasts are present they are subangular white quartz, red sandstone, and dark igneous rocks up to 1/4 inch across and constitute no more than 5 volume percent. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Length 8 1/2, width 4 1/4, height 2 1/8 inches.

Locke common brick
View of the sides of the Locke common brick made in 1859 for the Harmony Grove Church.
Note the lip on the top and bottom edges of some of the bricks, which is unusal.


Locke common brick
View of the sides of the Locke common brick made in 1859. Note the transverse striations and deep pits.


Locke common brick
View of the top face of the Locke common brick made in 1859. Note the transverse and slanted strike marks.


Locke common brick
View of the top face of the Locke common brick made in 1859. These have the longitudinal strike marks.


Locke common brick interior
View of the interior clay body of the Locke common brick made in 1859. Note the paucity of clasts.


The 1880s common brick is orange-red with a coating of sand on the surface. Paint masks the brick from additional examination of the surface features. The form is irregular with dull corners and edges. The top edges contain an irregular lip up to 1/2 inch thick. Some display an unusual lip around the bottom edges as well. The interior contains about 5 percent subangular white quartz, cream feldspar, and mica flakes ranging in size up to 1/16 inch across in a fine orange powdery clay. The interior when exposed to weather powders easily. The clay body contains round pits up to 1/8 inch across. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Length 8 - 8 1/2, width 3 3/4, height 2 1/4 - 2 3/8 inches.

Locke common brick
View of the sides of the Locke common brick made in the 1880s.


Locke common brick interior
View of the interior of the Locke common brick made in the 1880s. The white minerals are quartz.


References

Boynton, Gladys R., Brick Making In San Joaquin County, San Joaquin Historian, v. 4, no. 2, March 1968.

Farrow, Ross, Lockeford MAC to discuss unoccupied 19-century building, Lodi News-Sentinel, http://lockeford.com/history01.htm (accessed 6 January 2013).

Lea, Ralph, Lockeford: A Town Rich In History, Lodi News-Sentinel, http://lockeford.com/history.htm (accessed 6 January 2013).

Tinkham, George H., History of San Joaquin County California with Biographical Sketches, Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California, 1923.

Copyright 2013 Dan Mosier

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Please send email to Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.