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Jefferson County Tidbits # 31  Stonington

Found this in a pile of old newspaper clippings which were given to me by
Katherine Owen Tucker The date of the clipping was not noted.

Little Remains of the Brick Factory:  
   The fires went out in the kiln at Stonington almost 70 years ago, and even the tracks of the railroad that hauled the kiln away have been ripped from the rocky soil.
   A century ago  Stonington was supplying bricks for communities across the Deep South, but today the ruins of the company that put the Jefferson County settlement on the map cast shadows over the piles of broken brick and rubble.
   Stonington was a natural name for the Spanish Land Grant which Buckner Burch's family acquired in 1794, because outcroppings of sandstone and clay can be seen in profusion along the ridges and in the banks that border the old road beds.
   Great-grandson Isaac Washington Burch decided to capitalize on the rocks that had been dulling plows and making the land almost useless for farming.
   For a quarter century the family had talked about making the bricks from the clay on the arm, and in the late 1800's Isaac had some building stone and bricks manufactures.  But it was in 1894 before he got down to serious business.
   An account of the company's formation that appeared in the Vicksburg
Evening Post on Feb 26, 1894, said production was expected to begin in about 60 days.
   Drilling had shown a deposit of white clay to be 200 feet deep before hitting thin shale under which was another immense pit of undetermined depth. The clay was tested in furnaces in Alabama and in some northern states where it was found to be of a "superior Quality".
   Unlike most fire clay, it remained almost white after being burned.  In addition to being useful for pottery, the white clay would make fine ornamental bricks and enhance structures of traditional brick by using it artistically in combination with standard colors, the paper said.  The company also produced vases, flower pots and jugs.
   Nearby was a pit of red clay, ideal for making pressed brick, which were bringing $25. a thousand from the plant that could turn out 40,000 brick each day.
   By the spring of 1898, the Evening Post reported that the Stonington Co. was employing more than a dozen workers who were "Cheerfully pegging away from day to day with whistle and song".
    The fire clay business also was booming. In addition to making pottery, the company shipped the clay in bulk and barrel by the carload to cities around the country.  A side track of the Little J Railroad make shipment easy.
   One didn't have to go far to find that home folks were using Stonington
Brick, too.  When the Jefferson County Courthouse burned, Stonington Brick was used in the new building in 1902.
    The demand for brick construction began to wane, however, and with a dwindling market the Stonington Co. ceased production about 1916.
   Today only the ruins of the factory remain, located in a field on a country road about two miles beyond Harriston.

End of Newspaper article

Ann Brown

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