California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


San Joaquin Brick Company

San Joaquin Brick Co. letterhead
Letterhead donated by Chris and Sandra Ingram

History

The San Joaquin Brick Company was organized in 1891 by Solomon L. Confer, who along with his brother, William Confer, ran a contracting business from their office at 278 Main St., Stockton. The Confers used the bricks in their own construction jobs in the Stockton area. The office of the brick company was located at 330 El Dorado St. The brickyard was 5.5 miles southwest of Stockton on the west bank of the San Joaquin River. The property of 20 acres, contained a clay deposit about 20 feet thick of Recent alluvial reddish-brown clay with a silty soil overburden.

The clay was excavated first by a steam shovel and later by a dragline and deposited in a stockpile. Cured clay from the stockpile was trucked to an underground bunker, where it was fed through a smooth-roll crusher and belt conveyed to an overhead hopper. The material was then screened and the chunks went to the Marcy mill and discharged to the conveyor belt. Fine material went to the Steel combination pug mill and extruder. The soft-mud machine had a capacity of 40,000 bricks per day. The extruded mud was cut in a revolving wire cutting machine and wet shapes were sent to the delivery table. The wet bricks were taken to a shed where they were air dried for several days. They then were carted to a coal-fired Hoffman 16-compartment continuous kiln and fired for about 24 to 72 hours.

The finished bricks were then stockpiled. The kiln had a capacity of 235,000 bricks every 12 days. A circular down-draft kiln was also used, which had a capacity of 30,000 to 35,000 bricks per week. The Hoffman kiln produced common red brick, some hand-molded and some machine made. The circular kiln produced stock and pressed brick. During the operating season, May to September, 80,000 brick per day were made. The bricks were shipped on barges to Stockton. This plant employed 35-40 men.

About 1914, this operation was consolidated with the Roberts Island Brick Company works, located a half mile further west, and expanding the property to 60 acres. In 1950, the Stockton Building Materials Company purchased the San Joaquin Brick Company and continued to manufacture red common brick until about 1964.

San Joaquin Brick Co. brickyard chimney
View of the chimney at the San Joaquin brickyard.

San Joaquin Brick

Common hand-molded brick is orange to orange-red with sand-struck surfaces giving a gritty texture. Clear mica flakes sparkle in the sunlight. No large grains visible, only fine sand grains. Slight lip is present on the top edge. Top face is pitted with transverse striations. Sides display faint transverse lines or mold abrasions. Corners are broken or rounded. Interior consists of 5 percent round yellow clay and orange-stained round quartz, less than 1/8 inch in diameter, in a fine sandy clay body. Soft mud and stiff mud processes used. Length 8 3/8, width 4, height 2 3/8 inches.

San Joaquin Brick Co. common brick
View of the bottom face of a San Joaquin brick.

San Joaquin Brick Co. common brick
View of the side of a San Joaquin brick, showing thin lip at top.

San Joaquin Brick Co. common brick
View of the end of a San Joaquin brick.

San Joaquin Brick Co. common brick
View of the top of a San Joaquin brick showing pits and strike marks.


References

Aubury, Lewis E., The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 38, 1906, p. 255.

Bradley, W.W., Brown, G.C., Lowell, F.L., and McLauglin, R.P., Mines and Mineral Resources of Portions of California, Part 4: The Counties of Fresno, Kern, King, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, California State Mining Bureau 14th Report of the State Mineralogist, for the Biennial Period 1913-1914, 1916, p. 429-634.

Clark, W.B., Mines and Mineral Resources of San Joaquin County, California Journal of Mines and Geology, v. 51, no. 1, p. 35-36.

Laizure, C.M., San Joaquin County, California State Mining Bureau 21st Report of the State Mineralogist, 1925, p. 188.

Ramos, Karen, Stockton Public Library, 2005.

Stockton City Directories, 1890-1905.

Watts, W.L., The San Joaquin Brick Company, California State Mining Bureau 11th Report of the State Mineralogist, 1893, p. 394.

U.S. Bureau of Mines, Minerals Yearbook 1964, v. 3, p. 207.

Copyright 2005 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.