Thomas Andrew Mitchell
Thomas Andrew Mitchell was born in 1842 in Ireland. In 1854, he immigrated with his family to the United States, and
by 1870, he was manufacturing bricks in Bourbon County, Kansas.
About 1882, Thomas came to Ventura and opened a brickyard with his brother Edward. Thomas was the brickmaker
and Edward was the bricklayer and contractor. The clay quarry was located about one mile north of Ventura
on the east side of the river. The clay was hauled in wagons for a distance of a half mile west to the brickyard, located
on Ventura Avenue. Most of the brick structures in Ventura, constructed between 1882 and 1901,
were made of Mitchell brick. There is no description of the Mitchell brickyard. But the brick reveals that they used the soft-mud
process, where the brick was formed in a Damon brick molding machine and fired in field kilns.
Fine examples of Mitchell brick can be seen in the Mary Mitchell house (shown on the right) at 670 East Thompson Blvd.
in Ventura, where there are smooth face in the walls, rock face on the corners, and burnt ends in the point settings.
Mary Mitchell was a daughter of Edward Mitchell, who built the house in 1890. Other buildings known to contain
Mitchell brick include the John Mitchell house at 692 East Thompson and the Odd Fellows Hall. There may be many
brick foundations, chimneys, wells, and walls still standing around town.
In 1901, Thomas Mitchell sold his brickyard to Fred Volkam, a brickmaker in Oxnard, for $2,350. Volkam inturn sold
it for a quick profit to Herbert A. Gidding, of the Ventura Mill and Lumber Company, who continued to manufacture
bricks at the site. Shortly afterwards, Thomas and Edward Mitchell moved to Los Angeles, where they
continued to work as brick mason contractors.
Common brick is orange to orange red, mostly uniform in color. The surface is lightly sand coated and smooth.
The edges are irregular and dull. The corners are dull. The sides display fine transverse striations and pits.
Some have an irregular lip up to 1/4 inch around the edges of the top face. The top face is pitted and has faint
longitudinal strike marks. The bottom face is smooth and even. There were no brand marks on the bricks seen and
none are known to exist. The interior clay body has very few clasts of subrounded white quartz and clay, less
than 5 percent and up to 1/4 inch across. The pores, which are up to 1/4 inch across, constitute about 5 percent.
The interior clay is characteristically lumpy on broken or weathered surfaces. The brick spalls easily.
This brick was made between 1882 and 1901 by the soft-mud process. Length 8, width 3 3/4, height 2 1/2.
View of the side of Mitchell brick. The light gray on the surface is remnant paint.
View of the interior clay body of the Mitchell brick.
Rock Face Brick
Same as the common brick, but with one or two broken sides.
View of the side of a Mitchell rock face brick. The light gray is remnant paint in the surface depressions.
Brick and Clay Record, v. 12, no. 7, April 7, 1898, p. 23.
Copyright © 2010 Dan Mosier
Federal Census Record, 1870.
Federal Census Record, 1880.
Federal Census Record, 1900.
Federal Census Record, 1910.
Federal Census Record, 1920.
Great Register for Ventura County, 1890.
Oxnard Courier, August 31, 1901.
Oxnard Courier, September 7 1901.
San Buenaventura Conservancy, Home Tours and Histories, Ventura, 2009,
http://www.sbconservancy.org/reminiscing.htm (accessed 2010).
Ventura County Deeds, 1882.