Monday, March 16, 2020

John Gillis Smith, William Burton Elliott and The Salisbury Brick Company

In 1913 John Gillis Smith (1842-1923) was a farmer north of Delmar.  His farm was in the general area of Old Race Track Road and the Railroad tracks. 

He was the son of Marshall Smith (1817-1851) and Sally Ann Perdue (1810-1880).  In 1881 he married Genova Handy Waller (1858-1924), who was the daughter of  Jonathan James Waller (1813-1895) and Rachel Ralph Waller (1815-1891).  Genova and John had children;

1)Edna Smith (1882-1884) would die at age 20 months from a heart disease.

2)Minnie Ellen (1884-1974) would marry in 1912 Calvin Lee Oliphant.  They lived on the Whitesville Road.  Her husband would die in 1967, she would follow him in 1974.  They had two sons Russell and Roland.

3)John Hartland Smith (1889-1977) who remained single his entire life. He was a farmer.  He would die in 1977 at age 88 at the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically ill.

4)Rachel Alma 1891-1986) would marry in John A. Cordrey and they would live in Millsboro.  She would die in 1986 preceding her husband who died in 1949.  They had two sons; John S. and Richard S. 

John G. Smith, for a farmer, had a number of land transactions.  Because his land was close to the Railroad and the Laurel-Delmar highway (Bi-State blvd) he sold small pieces to the state to widen the road or to the railroad for sidings.  In 1912 he sold 25 acres to William B Elliott and in 1913 he sold 8 acres to the Salisbury Brick company for their new brick works.  William B Elliott also sold his 25 acres to the Brick works.

William Burton Elliott (1858-1950) in 1912 had closed his brick works in the town of Delmar.  At that time he was the bailiff of Delmar. Before that he was associated with Mitchell German and Daniel H Foskey brick works in Delmar.  

above 1880 ad
In 1913 William B Elliott sold the equipment from his brick works and 25 acres of land north of Delmar to the Salisbury Bricks Works. 

William Burton Elliott (1858-1950) was the son of William Elliott and Amelia Jane Gordy.  He would marry in 1880 Mary Ellen German (1860-1946) daughter of George W. German and Matadila Hastings.  They would have as children Albert Harlan (1881-1955), Walter Lee (1885-1951), Lilly Esther (1883-1885), William h, (1888-1889), Robert C, (1890-1890) and Hattie Ellen (1898-1973).
William Elliott, after he got out of the brick business, was a bailiff for the town of Delmar, a general store owner and contractor in Delmar. 

The Salisbury Brick Works was started by Joseph and Thomas H. Mitchell in 1900.  They had their brick works on the west side of Salisbury.  In 1913 they decided to expand into Delaware and purchased land north of Delmar.  Not that much is known about the operation.  It appears to have been in business from 1913 until the 1940s.  From newspaper articles we know it was designed to turn out 30,000 bricks a day.  It had machinery to dig the clay, an electric tram to haul to clay to the grinders, four kilns fired by coal, two drying sheds of one hundred feet length and a railroad siding.  It seems to have been plagued by lack of workers such as brick setters, burners, wheelers and shovelers. 

The sandy clay Salisbury Brick used was from the geographic Wicomico deposit formation that Delmar sits on.  The formation consists of loam, sand, gravel and a few scatter rocks.  The clay is good for common building bricks.  It was dug by pick and shovel, hauled to a pug mill ( basically a really big auger mixer) where the clay may have other material such as shale added to it. The pug mill also removes air in the clay.  The mixed clay was molded using the stiff mud process. The two molding methods used are soft mud and stiff mud with the amount of water mixed with the clay being the deciding factor.  Stiff mud uses a small amount of water in comparison to the soft mud method.  The stiff mixture of water and clay is extruded in a continuous column of clay through a die.  As the column exist the machine, wire cutters cut the clay into bricks.  Once the bricks could be handled the “greenware’ was hauled by electric tram to the dryer shed where once sufficiently dry would be moved to the beehive kiln on metal pallets.  There they were fired at 2,000 degrees.  Once removed from the kilns the bricks would take a week to cool down so they were placed back into the dryer shed.
above the drying shed at Dover Brick used as an example of drying sheds

 From there they were shipped by rail or truck depending on where the customer was. 

It is surprising how little is left of this operation. 

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