Charles Morris was an early brickmaker in San Francisco, California. He was in San Francisco briefly from 1856 to
1859. In 1856, he had a brickyard at the corner of Bryant and Essex (now Rincon Alley) streets.
This yard was on the southeast side of a low hill made of Mesozoic sedimentary rocks overlain by yellow clay
Morris hired ten workers at his brickyard. The yellow clay was dug and thrown directly into a pug mill, which was
powered by a horse. When sufficiently mixed with water and sand, the material was thrown into wooden molds to
form bricks. After drying in the sun, the bricks were fired in two large rectangular field kilns, each holding
about 200,000 bricks. It required 70 cords of wood to fire each kiln. After firing, the bricks were ready
for the market, where they sold at $9 to $10.50 per thousand bricks. These were red common bricks in the crudest
Morris made about 400,000 bricks at this brickyard in 1856. These bricks were used locally and it is
doubtful that any buildings containing them have survived up to the present. The sample shown below is from
a partially buried remnant foundation at the brickyard site. In 1857, Morris moved to a new location at Brannan
and 3rd streets in San Francisco and probably made the same style of brick from similar materials. He closed
that yard in 1859 and left San Francisco to parts unknown.
View of part of a remnant brick foundation at the Morris brickyard site.
The common brick is orange-red and mottled with patches of yellow, orange, and red. The brick has an
uneven form with undulating or curved sides, some badly warped. The edges and corners are dull. Some of the
bricks are underfired and spalls easily, while others are partly burnt to dark gray or black. The surface
of the brick is coated with sand and is lumpy, caused by
the large clasts that protrude the surface of the brick. The sides have stack indentations, which are quite
deep, indicating over-stacked bricks, which contributed to deformation of the form. The bottom face has a
smooth but lumpy surface. The top face is heavily pitted with no discernable strike direction on the samples
seen and a thin, 1/8 inch thick, irregular lip around the top edges. The interior contains 15 percent subangular
white quartz, subangular red chert, subrounded gray sandstone, all up to 5/8 inch across, in a sandy, porous,
orange-red clay body. This brick was made using the soft mud process. Length 8 1/4, width 3 1/2 - 4, height 2 1/2 inches.
View of the side of the Morris brick.
View of the bottom face of the Morris brick.
View of the top face of the Morris brick, partly covered by white mortar.
View of the interior of the Morris brick.
Daily Alta California, Manufacture of Bricks, June 13, 1857.
Copyright © 2010 Dan Mosier
Federal Census Records, 1860.
San Francisco Directories, 1856-1860.