California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


William Mocker

History


William Mocker was born in Germany in 1827. He immigrated to the United States with his parents probably in the 1840s and, in 1850, they farmed at Cape Girardeau, Missouri. While in Missouri, William worked as a carpenter. In 1852, William went to San Francisco, where he formed a partnership with Henry Zimmermann in a butcher shop. He married Mary Kaiser and raised five children. He was naturalized in 1860. In 1875, he opened a brickyard in San Jose. Little is known about Mocker's brickyard.

Mocker's brickyard was located on Berryessa Road on the west bank of Coyote Creek in San Jose, Santa Clara County. Here he mined the clay from the creek bank. Red common brick was manufactured by the soft-mud process. The clay was probably screened and thrown into a pug mill to be tempered. The bricks were probably formed using wooden molds. After the bricks were formed, they were set out on the ground to dry. Field kilns were likely used to fire the bricks. The quantity of bricks made from 1878 to 1887 is unknown. According to Glory Laffey, Mocker had a sales yard at San Carlos and Prevost (now Woz Way) streets in San Jose. Mocker and his family did not reside in San Jose. He commuted from San Francisco. So it is possible that some of his bricks were shipped to the city as well.

In 1887, Mocker sold his brickyard to the San Jose Brick Company for $2,500. Mocker retired to his home in San Francisco and lived there until he died in 1898. The site of Mocker's brickyard has been erased by modern development in the area. Brick bats shown below are from the site of Mocker's sales yard near San Carlos Street and Woz Way.


Mocker Brick

Common brick is pale red to orange-red and uniform in color. The surface is coated with sand containing mostly subangular white quartz and subrounded red and gray chert, and minor subangular cream feldspar and round black magnetite. The form is good with slightly undulatory nearly sharp edges and dull corners. A 1/4 inch lip may be present around the top edges. The top face is pitted with visible clasts and has a longitudinal strike. The bottom face is even and smooth. Interior consists of 3 percent subrounded red chert, subrounded yellow clay, and subangular white quartz, all less than 1/4 inch in diameter, in a fine sandy clay body. There are about 5 percent irregular shaped pits ranging up to 1/8 inch in diameter in the interior clay body. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Range of sizes are noted. Length 8?, width 3 3/4 - 4, height 2 1/8 - 2 1/4 inches.

View of the sides of Mocker brick bats.
View of the sides of Mocker brick bats.

View of the top faces of Mocker brick bats.
View of the top faces of Mocker brick bats.

View of the bottom faces of Mocker brick bats.
View of the bottom faces of Mocker brick bats.

View of the end of Mocker brick.
View of the end of Mocker brick.

View of the interior of Mocker brick.
View of the interior of Mocker brick.

View of a chert pebble in Mocker brick.
View of a chert pebble in Mocker brick.

References

Buried Alive, San Francisco Chronicle, August 29, 1880.

Court Notes, San Francisco Chronicle, January 5, 1899.

Federal Census Records, 1850.

Federal Census Records, 1870.

Federal Census Records, 1880.

Great Register, Register 2d Precinct, 38th Assembly District, San Francisco County, 1896.

Laffey, Glory Anne, Nineteenth Century Brick Making in Santa Clara County, San Jose State University Geography Report, 1980.

San Francisco Call, December 26, 1898.

San Francisco City Directory, 1862.

San Francisco City Directory, 1863.

San Francisco City Directory, 1878.

San Francisco City Directory, 1887.

San Francisco City Directory, 1891.

San Francisco City Directory, 1898.

Copyright 2016 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.