Bricklayers

Richards Brick Company in Edwardsville, circa 1912-1920.

Workers setting the brick in the Haigh tunnel kiln at Richards Brick Company circa 1912-1920. The company is still is business, but the Haigh kiln has been replaced with two Allied car tunnel kilns. MCHS photograph.

The Edwardsville brick works that bricklayer Benjamin Richards bought into in 1890 had been around for about ten years. In 1895, Richards became full owner. The company made bricks by the dry press method: a steam engine powered giant mechanical pressers to press ground-up clay into molds. As of 2019, the company is still making bricks on the east side of Edwardsville.

Sidewalk brick made by Banner Clay Company

Sidewalk brick made by Banner Clay Company. Have you seen any of these bricks on the sidewalks in Edwardsville? MCHS object 2010-005-0001.

On the west side of Edwardsville, Banner Clay Works made paving and sidewalk blocks beginning in the early 1900s. The company converted to making facing brick using a stiff mud extrusion process in 1923, after it was purchased by Alton Brick Company. The Great Depression shut down the plant in 1932.

Bricklayers and Masons Local Union No. 58, circa 1890-1900

Bricklayers and Masons Local Union No. 58, circa 1890-1900. Back row: Rudolph C. Spanholtz (third from right), George W. Putnam (far right). MCHS photograph.

Rudolph Spanholtz, the son of Prussian immigrants, lived his whole life in Edwardsville. Rudolph supported his wife and seven children working as a bricklayer. Although the work wasn’t always steady, Rudolph owned his home on North Main Street. He is in his mid-30s in this photograph (back row, third from right).

George Putnam served in the Union Army during the Civil War, first as a 17-year-old drummer and later as a private. After the war, he returned to Edwardsville and worked as a bricklayer until he retired circa 1910. A confirmed bachelor, George lived at the St. James Hotel for over twenty years before he died at age 79. He is about 50-55 years old in this photograph (back row, far right).


Sources

Alton Telegraph. Various articles.

Edwardsville Intelligencer. Various articles.

Gerdt, David W. The History of Brick Making in Edwardsville by David W. Gerdt. May 11, 1966. Manuscript. Available at the Madison County Archival Library.

Illinois State Archives. Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls (database). Accessed February 6, 2019. http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/databases/datcivil.html

National Park Service. The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database. Accessed February 6, 2019. https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/soldiers-and-sailors-database.htm

Richards, R.W. Brick-making (Brief History). June 1966. Manuscript. Available at the Madison County Archival Library.

Richards Brick. Accessed August 30, 2019. http://www.richardsbrick.com/About-Us/about-us.html

United States census records and other public records.

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