California brick

William Buckley


William Buckley was born in Massachusetts about 1825. He learned the trade of bricklaying and brickmaking in Charlestown, Massachusetts, where he worked for 8 to 10 years. His wife was Augusta Lovejoy and they had raised four children. By 1860, William had moved his family to San Francisco, where he embarked in bricklaying with a younger James Buckley, who may have been a brother. By 1863, William and James had established a brickyard, which they operated for about two years, located northwest of Larkin and Greenwich streets in San Francisco. By 1865, William apparently had left the city for parts unknown and did not return until about 1870.

The Buckley brickyard at Larkin and Greenwich was not described. From the brick bat, which was found near the brickyard site, the material was extracted from surface deposits on the property. The material probably was not crushed or screened, but thrown directly into the pug-mill. The bricks were probably formed using wooden molds, which were lubricated with sand. The bricks were probably fired in a field kiln using wood or coal to fuel the fire. William was listed as the brickmaker and James was the kiln burner. All of Buckley's bricks was probably sold and used in San Francisco. By 1875, it was reported that Buckley had made over 30 millions bricks, which included their second yard opened in 1870 on the northeast corner of Green and Polk streets in San Francisco.

During the 1880s, William was involved with the Broadway Cable Railroad Company. He was listed in the city directories as a brickmaker until 1892. Since 1893, he apparently continued working as a bricklayer until his death before 1897. Today, residences cover the site of the Buckley brickyard at Larkin and Greenwich streets.

William Buckley Brick

William Buckley common brick is dark orange-red with a heavy coating of sand on the surface. The sand consists of subrounded orange-stained quartz, black magnetite, and subangular cream feldspar. The sides undulate slightly and display minor pits and clasts. An irregular lip of 1/8 inch in thickness occurs on the top edges. The edges and corners are dull. The top face is rough with large pits and visible clasts and a longitudinal strike. The bottom face is rough, flat, and bumpy with abundant visible clasts. The interior contains about 20 percent subrounded to subangular clasts as much as 1 inch in diameter. The clasts include, in decreasing order of abundance, red chert with white veins, white chert, black shale, greenstone, and red sandstone. These are in a porous (5 percent pores), quartz-magnetite-rich, sandy-clay body. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Length ?, width 4 1/8, height 2 1/4 inches.

View of the side of the William Buckley common brick bat.

View of the end of the William Buckley common brick bat.

View of the bottom face of the William Buckley common brick bat.

View of the rough top face of the William Buckley common brick bat.

View of the interior of the William Buckley common brick bat.

Microscopic view of the interior of the William Buckley
common brick bat (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).


A New Cable Road Incorporation, Daily Alta California, June 19, 1887.

Federal Census Records, 1860.

Federal Census Records, 1870.

New City Hall Bricks, Daily Alta California, May 6, 1879.

Rice Family Tree,, 2014.

Sale of Newark Lot, Daily Alta California, May 22, 1875.

San Francisco Call, January 28, 1897.

San Francisco City Directories, 1861-1893.

Copyright 2014 Dan Mosier

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