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CALIFORNIA BRICKS


George D. Nagle

History


George D. Nagle

George Dedrick Nagle (also spelled Nægle) was a pioneer brickmaker and bricklayer in Sacramento. Nagle was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1821. He came to California in 1849 and worked as a contractor in Sacramento. Nagle preferred to manufacturer his own bricks for his brick jobs. His bricklayer and brickmaker advertisement first appeared in the Sacramento Transcript on June 13, 1850. This ad ran until February 18, 1851. Afterwards, Nagle advertised only as a bricklayer. For a couple of months in 1851 he was in partnership with S. Getz as bricklayers. However, he was manufacturing bricks in Sacramento as late as May 1852, and possibly to the spring of 1853. With a good stock of bricks on hand, he was prepared to build fireproof buildings, ovens, and chimneys.

George D. Nagle Ad
From Sacramento Transcript, 1850.

His brickyard was located near his residence, east of the present Johnson Park, on the blocks bound by E, F, 11th, and 12th streets in downtown Sacramento. He used mud from the valley floor, just 5,000 feet from the Sacramento River. Common bricks were formed in wooden molds and he also made pressed face bricks using a brick press. The bricks were probably air dried before being fired in field kilns. The bottom of the molds contained his initials "G.D.N." laid backwards to mark his bricks. His bricks went into a number of buildings and structures in Sacramento, such as his brick building on K Street between 2nd and 3rd streets and two brick buildings of Brown, Henry & Co., on J Street. Some of his bricks were shipped to San Francisco and Vallejo. His pressed face brick went into the Marine Hospital in San Francisco in 1852.

George D. Nagle Ad
From Sacramento Transcript, 1851.

By 1853, Nagle had relocated to San Francisco to set up his contracting business and he continued to make bricks at various locations in the city. Nagle was active politically in Sacramento with the Whig party and represented the Third Ward. He also let rooms to rent in his brick building on K Street. Although Nagle worked as a contractor throughout the state, he remained a resident of San Francisco until his death in 1891 at the age of 71 years.

George D. Nagle Ad
From Sacramento Transcript, 1851.

Nagle Brick

Common brick is pale brownish red. It has irregular form with dull edges and corners. The surface is coated with very fine sand of orange-stained quartz, black magnetite, and flashy mica. Cracks and pits are present. Irregular lip is present around the top edges about 1/4 inch thick. The sides may display longitudinal ridges and irregular clumps of clay giving an uneven surface. The top face is rough and pitted and has a strong longitudinal strike. The bottom face is flat and even. Centered on the face are the raised initials "G.D.N." that span 3 3/4 inches and stand 1 inch in height. The letters are backwards, reading from right to left, with round raised periods, which may be difficult to see. The interior is lacking in clasts and has a porous sandy red clay body. The body contains about 5 percent pores. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Length 8, width 3 3/4, height 2 3/8 inches.

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View of the marked bottom face of Nagle's Sacramento common brick. Donated by Mike Peters.

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View of the top face of Nagle's Sacramento common brick. Donated by Mike Peters.

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View of the side of Nagle's Sacramento common brick showing
expansion cracks on the far right. Donated by Mike Peters.

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View of the end of Nagle's Sacramento
common brick. Donated by Mike Peters.

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View of the interior clay body of Nagle's
Sacramento common brick. Donated by Mike Peters.

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Microscopic view of the surface of Nagle's Sacramento
common brick displaying mostly orange-stained quartz and
scattered black magnetite sand (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).

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Microscopic view of the interior clay body of Nagle's
Sacramento common brick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).

References

Delinquent List, Sacramento Transcript, December 1, 1851.

Dissolution, Sacramento Daily Union, March 20, 1851.

Fort Point National Historic Site, San Francisco, CA.

Garcia, David, written communications, 2011.

Peters, Mike, written communications and brick donation, 2015.

Sacramento Daily Union, September 28, 1852.

Sacramento Face Brick, Sacramento Transcript, May 26, 1852.

Sacramento Transcript, June 13, 1850.

Sacramento Transcript, July 2, 1850.

Sacramento Transcript, February 18, 1851.

Sacramento Transcript, February 25, 1851.

Sacramento Transcript, February 26, 1851.

Sacramento Transcript, March 1, 1851.

Sacramento Transcript, March 20, 1851.

San Francisco City Directories, 1861-1872.

Whig Central Committee, Sacramento Transcript, June 3, 1851.


Copyright 2015 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.