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The Great Hudson River Brick Industry
by George V. Hutton
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The background for this page is from bricks found in the Hudson River area of New York State. where hundreds of brick-making factories existed from the late 1700s into the 1940s.

During the last Ice Age in the Hudson Valley area, blankets of ice weighing millions of tons crushed the rocks of many mountains into a spectacular deposit of flour-textured, rich blue clay. This came to rest in the bays and coves of the newly carved Hudson River. In 1928, test borings made in the Hudson off the old Cofferdam in southern Haverstraw, drilled 100 feet deep and still did not drill through the clay.

The extent of the industry

(interactive maps may take awhile to load)

At its height, the brick industry along the Hudson River comprised over 130 brick yards.

On the East shore, New York towns, operators and brands included:

(Clickable Map)

Schodack Landing:


Newton Hook:
William N. CARY (yard)
EMPIRE Brick Co.

Robert MAIN

ATLAS Brick Co.,
Bartlett Bros. (B B), Antonio Colarusso (A.C. Co.),
James Fitzgerald (FITZ-G)

Clickable Map

Poughkeepsie (and Arlington):
Matthew Vassar,
William H. HAIGHT,
Poughkeepsie Brick corp. (PBCORP),
Flagler & Allen (F & A),
TOWEY Brick Company (?),
Allen and Terwilliger (A & T),
Allen Townsend & Mack (AT&M),
Norton I Pennock (NIP)

McCabe & McGrath

F. Watrous,
Shackett & Roubellard (S & R),

Beacon (Dennings Point):
Homer Ramsdell, Dennings Point Brick Works (D.P.B.W.) (DPBW) (DPBCo)

Fishkill, Fishkill Landing and Dutchess Junction:
William K. HAMMOND, (W K H), Hammond & Freeman (H & F),
Francis Timoney (F.T.),
W.D. BUDD (W D B),
Anchor Brick Co.,
Constant De Cesere,
Thomas DINAN
Gormley & Son (G & SON)
Barnacue & Dow (B & B)
Also: O'Brien, Vaughey & McConnell had yards in Fishkill and stores in Verplanck

Clickable Map
Daniel J. Haight,
William Mabie (Haitam and Mabie),
Peekskill Fire Brick Works

Verplanck (and Crugers):
Patrick O'BRIEN (P O), O'Brien & McConnon (O & MC), O'Brien & Vaughey,
Cyrus Travis,
Patrick King & Sons, L. H. Lynch Co., King & Lynch (K & L),
BONNER Brick Co.,
East Shore Brick Company (E S B Co),
Hudson River Brick Company (H R B),
James D. AVERY

Montrose (and George's Island):
Matthew GORMLEY,
Edward D. Bellefuille (E D B),
Francis Timoney,

Croton (and Croton Landing):
William A. Underhill (W.A.U., IXL),
James S. Van Cortlandt (The Croton Brick Company),
George & Eliza A. Morton (The Croton Landing Brick Co.), John MORTON,

James Wood

Along the West shore, towns, operators and brands included:

Mechanicville and Half Moon:
Mechanicville Brick Co.
Best Brick Co.
The CARY Brick Co. (CA+RY) (with CBMA Symbol),
Hudson Valley,
Duffney Brick Co. (DB+CO)
(with CBMA Symbol),
Mohawk Brick Co.
Champlain Brick Co.
Ferris Paving Brick Co. (FPBCo)
New England Brick Co (NEBCo)

William N. CARY (yard)

Isaac I. Fryer
Peter Quackenbush

Clickable Map

Conrad F. Suderly,
Sutton & Suderly (SSBCO),
Sutton & Sinsabaugh
Adamo Brothers (ADAMO-B),
Corwin & McCullough,
Powell & Minock,
Robert LENT,
Hardwick & Walsh,
Ziegler & Ziegler, Ziegler Bros. (ZZZ),

Fitzgerald (FITZ-G)

W., W. Rider, Jr.,

Jerome Walsh,
George W. Washburn (XXX),
(F & C) possibly custom made for Foote and Cummings building supply,
Ferrier & Golden,
B. Goldin & Son,
C.C. Abeel,
Catskill Shale Brick and Paving Co. AKA: Eastern Paving Brick Co (1901) (CATSKILL),
Kaaterskill Paving Brick Co. (1906),
Catskill Vitrified Brick Co. (1910),
and Tidewater Paving Brick Co. (1917) (TIDEWATER),

Clickable Map

Alva STAPLES (1903-1958) (Yard 2),
Bishop Yards,
Farrel & Cooney

Saugerties (incl. Glasco):
Robert LENT (1850s)
Henry CORSE (1870s)
WASHBURN Bros. (1867-1949)
Empire Brick & Supply Co.,
Alpha Brick & Holding Co.,
Robert MAIN,
S. J. & T. J. Smith,
John Maginnis (1840s)
Gardner & Goldsmith (G & G),
Dwyer Bros.
Alonzo Rose (1890s)
Gaston Wilbur (1860s)
I. Dunn & Co.
J. Porter
John Overbaugh (1840s)
Overbaugh & Maginnis (1840s)
William Hale
Van Duzen & Terry
C.H. Littlefield
D.C. Overbaugh

Ulster Landing:
Ulster Landing Brick Co.,
Hanrahan Brick & Ice Co
Dwyer Bros. Yard No. 2,
Philip GOLDRICK (1900s)

Goldrick's Landing (Ulster):
Philip GOLDRICK (Lower Yard, just north of Chas. Rider Park) (G)

Steep Rocks (and today's Chas. Rider Park):

Town of Ulster:
U. F. & J. T. Washburn (yard now is Rbt Post Park)
Streeter & Hendricks
Hendricks Brick Co.
Daniel Weed, Weed & Sutton
John Shutero
Palmer Gerrit
Thomes Beekman

East Kingston:
Harry R. BRIGHAM (1891-1950s)
Charles A. SHULTZ (C A S)
Manchester (1891)

Clickable Map

Nathan NICKERSON (1880-)
Staples (1880)
East Kingston Brick Co.
Fredericks Brick Co,
R. MAIN (1897)
Kingston Brick & Ice Co.(Dywer) (KB&ICo)
TERRY BROS. Yard No. 2 (1850-1946)
Cordts & Hutton (1865-1890)
Jova Mfg Co (JMC) (1965-1980)
Frederick P. Luther,
D. Manchester
G. Kerr
E. GARDNER (1913)
John J. KING

Port Ewen:
N. E. TURNER (1890s) (sold to Gurney)
Jacob Kline (sold to Bishop)

Ulster Park (Esopus):

New Paltz:
New Paltz Brick Co,

Arrow Brick Works
John Bailey ROSE, ROSE BROS, Rose Brick Co. (ROSE CO)
(Rose also had an address at 103 Park Ave, NYC)
Jova Brick Works,
Atlas Building Material Co.

William LAHEY,
P. F. Greaney,
M. M. Hayden,
C. C. Bourne,
H. Davidson's Sons

New Windsor

Hedges Brick Co.,

Clickable Map

Jones Point

Tomkins Cove

Stony Point:
Walter F. B. Gurnee
Abram S. Gurnee,
Frank L. Dunnigan (FLD)

West Haverstraw

Haverstraw (incl. Grassy Point, Thiells and Garnerville)
(See special Haverstraw Page.)


Clickable Map

In New Jersey bricks were made at:

Clickable Map
Charles E. Walsh,
Edward Schmultz,
James W. Gillies,
M. B. & L. B. Gardner, M. & L. E. Gardner

Little Ferry:
I. & W. Felter,
Henry Gardner (HG),
Trevianus & Gardner (T&G)
J.W. Gillies
Mehrhoff Brick Co.,
N. Mehrhoff Co. (NM& Co),
P. Mehrhoss Co.

Jersey City

Bricks were also made at:

Clickable Map
GreenRidge (Staten Island, NY)

Sayreville, NJ:
Sayre & Fisher (S & F Co)

Catskill Brickyard
Ferrier & Golden and C.C. Abeel Brickyards, Catskill, NY
(From a drawing by L.R. Burleigh, Troy, NY 1889)

On the Eastern shore of the Hudson in Westchester County, one of the areas brickmaking took place was Croton-on-Hudson where William A. Underhill established a brick works in 1837. We have created a special page on this historic site with notes from Sarah Gibbs Underhill called "Tales From Croton Point."

Business was booming. The New York metropolitan area was experiencing a building craze. In 1923, the price of brick commanded $20 per 1000.


To access our new Haverstraw Page:


The Innovators:
VerValen, Wood & Strickland

Richard VerValen

Brickmakers were confounded by the problems they encountered with the oftentimes irregular shape of the building blocks, which at that time were made almost entirely by hand. A few rudimentary tools had been introduced to help streamline production and in 1830, Nathaniel Adams of Newburgh and Cornwall, NY, invented a moulding machine. However this required human or animal labor to operate.

The real break-through came in 1852, when Richard VerValen developed his brickmaking machine. This connected to a steam-powered drive shaft called a "power-line."

VerValen Machine

VerValen, who knew the industry and had "an inventive mind," pondered the dilemma for a time, according to the late historian, author and area resident, Daniel deNoyelles, in his book, "Within These Gates."

Before VerValen invented his machine in 1852, the clay was forced into the moulds by hand, and therefore had to be rather soft - and when the bricks were dumped out of the moulds, many became misshapen. VerValen's machine made it possible to use stiffer clay. Quoting from deNoyelles:

"..the VerValen machine forced the raw clay into the moulds with a machined packer. The moulds held six brick paralleling each other. Under this newer method a stiffer clay could be used, which made a brick more square. The moulds were drawn by hand from a revolving sander where the iron oxide was added to the flour-like moulding sand. This dusted the insides of the moulds and allowed the soft brick to slip easily to the surface on the drying yards. Of course the filled mould were first 'struck off' by a two-handed knife about two feet long. This made the brick smooth on the exposed plane. This knife was called the moulder's strike'."

"The tempering of the mixture was effected back of the press by a steel shaft pinned with steel knives which extended into the raw clay, sand, and coal dust which had been conveyed above the press by a chain and bucket elevator."

"Red coloring was added to the outside of the newly-moulded brick by adding iron oxide to the moulding sand in the patent sander ca. 1885. Before that time, brick had been burned in their raw state, resulting in a light pink color with a whiteish tint at times. With the use of red ochre, as some oldtimers called it, the hard-burned brick had a deep red, and in some places, a rich purple hue."
Another machine was invented in 1874 to automatically 'sand' the moulds, so that it could keep up with the VerValen moulding machine.

A Closter, NJ native, VerValen lived in Rockland County, NY as a child. He then left for upstate New York before returning to Rockland (Haverstraw) in 1848, where he worked manufacturing stoves and plows in his foundry.

According to legend, it was in the middle of a Sunday church sermon that VerValen had a breakthrough and came up with the machine design. He patented his machine in 1852 and, its principles were "so workable and so novel to brickmaking" that they were used until a more advanced machine, incorporating some of his original ideas, was developed in the 1920s.

James Wood

In 1828 brickmaker James Wood discovered that 'culm' - fine coal dust - added to the mixture reduced burning time for a kiln by one-half, from FOURTEEN DAYS to SEVEN. He patented it in 1836:

'Be it known that I, the said James Wood, have invented a new and useful improvement in the art of manufacturing bricks and tiles. The process is as follows: Take of common anthracite coal, unburnt, such quantity as will best suit the kind of clay to be made into brick or tile, and mix the same, when well pulverized, with the clay before [it] is moulded; that clay which requires the most burning will require the greatest proportion of coal-dust; the exact proportion, therefore, cannot be specified; but, in general, three fourths of a bushel of coal-dust to one thousand brick will be correct. Some clay may require one eighth more, and some not exceeding a half-bushel.

The benefits resulting from this composition are the saving of fuel, and the more general diffusion of heat through the kiln, by which the whole contents are more equally burned. If the heat is raised too high, the brick will swell, and be injured in their form. If the heat is too moderate, the coal- dust will be consumed before the desired effect is produced. Extremes are therefore to be avoided. I claim as my invention the using of fine anthracite coal, or coal-dust, with clay, for the purpose of making brick and tile as aforesaid, and for that only claim letters patent from the United States.


Dated 9th November, 1836.

Wood, an Englishman, came to Ossining, NY in 1814 but found little clay there so he leased a yard across the river (from Daniel deNoyelles) in Haverstraw and established his first brickyard in 1815. Later he invented a machine for tempering clay.

There also was a "Wood" brickyard in Tarrytown, NY:

"During the mid-1800's brick makers took advantage of the clay deposits in the (Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown) area. In 1885 Wood Brick Yard sold its property at the foot of Beekman Avenue to the Rand Drill Company, in what would later become the home of several automobile manufactures. In 1899, on the south side of present day Kingsland Point Park, automobile making began with the Mobile Company of America producing the Stanley Steamer. This was succeeded by the Chevrolet Company and then the start of the General Motors Company in 1915. In 1996 after having assembled some 11 million vehicles General Motors closed down and dismantled all of its buildings as required by local law." Ed. Note: The site is now being developed for condominiums.
Three generations of Woods: James, Samuel and George all worked at the Tarrytown yard. Here's a biographical sketch of George Wood:

GEORGE S. WOOD. On an elevated terrace near Tomkins Cove, commanding a beautiful view of the river and surrounding country, stands the home of Mr. Wood, and here he has resided since 1864. His principal business in life has been the brick industry, though he has other interests that are important and valuable. In everything pertaining to the advancement of Rockland County he maintains a deep interest, and his co-operation is always to be depended upon in matters tending toward the general welfare.

The ancestry of our subject is traced to England. His grandfather, James Wood, emigrated from that country to America in 1801, and be-came one of the pioneer brick manufacturers of this section of country. Prior to leaving his native land, he learned the brick-making business, and he was the first in this locality who utilized coal dust in its manufacture. The immense business of this character now carried on at Haverstraw and in the vicinity is the growth of the beginning made by him. Our subject's father, Samuel Wood, was born in Colchester, England,and when only five years of age was brought to America. His boyhood days were spent in this locality, and at a very early age he became familiar with the brick business, which he followed throughout his entire life, having extensive interests at Haverstraw and Tarry town. His death occurred in r868, at the age of seventy-three.

The mother of our subject was in maidenhood Malvina Smith, and was born in Rockland County. Her death occurred in Tarrytown at the age of seventy-six. Of her twelve children we note the following: Mary is deceased; George S. is the subject of this notice; Orlando is deceased; Mary Elizabeth is the widow of George Gaylor, and resides in Stamford, Conn.; Caroline, Mrs. Caleb W. Horton, is deceased; Theodore S. died at the age of thirty-eight; Martha Amanda died in girl-hood; Henrietta is the wife of George Smith, of Tomkins Cove; Euphemia died when three years old; Horatio Nelson was in the navy, under Admiral Farragut, during the Civil War, and now makes his home in Haverstraw; Nellie died at the age of forty-three; and Sophia, deceased, was the wife of Joseph H. Vail, of Tarrytown.

In Haverstraw, January 31, 1823, the subject of this sketch was born, and there the first eight years of his life were spent. He then accompanied his parents to Tarrytown, where he remained until twenty-one years of age, meantime attending the public schools of that place, and gaining a fair education. Like his ancestors, he early gained a thorough knowledge of the brick business, and in that industry he embarked at Tarrytown when twenty years old. He continued to reside there until 1852, meeting with flattering success in his ventures, but at that time he returned to Haverstraw, where the twelve ensuing years were passed. In the fall of 1864 he came to Tomkins Cove and took up his residence at the beautiful place he has since occupied. He has extensive real-estate interests, not only here, but also in other places, and is also interested financially in the Tomkins Cove Stone Company.

The political opinions of Mr. Wood are by no means undecided, for he is a firm and loyal sup-porter of the Republican party, and uniformly votes that ticket. In religious belief he is connected with the Methodist Protestant Church. Personally of a genial, affable nature, he has won a host of friends in this community, and is highly esteemed for his uprightness of character and geniality of disposition. His marriage united him with Miss Laura P., daughter of Calvin and Esther (Tuers) Tomkins, and they became the parents of a daughter, Esther M., who died at the age of nineteen years.

(SOURCE: Portrait and Biographical Record of Rockland and Orange Counties New York Containing Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens of the Counties.
New York and Chicago; Chapman Publishing Co., 1895)

David Strickland

David J. Strickland of Cleveland, OH, the Bronx and Beacon, NY, patented numerous brick-making inventions:

1911: Improved Brickmaking Machinery.

1920: Strickland Automatic Brick-making Machine.

1925: Low-Pressure Steam Brick Dryer.

Strickland is also credited with creating oven-sized brick and introducing the coloring of common brick in the New York market.


Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, things began to change. Cheaper European bricks flooded the market, and the focus shifted to lighter building materials such as glass, aluminum and steel. Veneers over poured concrete foundations were used instead of brick for building. The Great Depression sounded the industry's death knell, by 1933 the price for 1000 bricks fell from $20 to $9.50. World War II delivered the final blow.

When the last yard, Rockland Brick Co., dismantled its only remaining kiln shed in 1941, part of the shed was delivered to a World War II munitions plant for scrap.

Hudson River Bricks were the subject of a book,"The Great Hudson River Brick Industry" (Purple Mountain Press, 2003), by George V. Hutton, whose family owned a factory in Kingston, N.Y., from 1865 to 1980. To obtain this landmark book at a Special Price Click Here.

Another fine book "Within These Gates" (Copyright 1982) by Daniel deNoyelles is available at the Haverstraw Brick Museum. At the turn of the century, the deNoyelles Brickyard was a major player in the North Rockland brickmaking industry.

Sources Consulted:

Casey, Thomas F. X., "A Brief History of Rockland County," (Rockland County Historian)
Clarke, Suzan, "Haverstraw's place in history assured by machine," The Journal News, March 28, 2003
deNoyelles, Daniel, Within These Gates, Copyright 1982
Graves, Jim, "Brick Brands of the United States"
Haring, Regina M., "Brickmaking Along the Hudson River"
Hutton, George V., The Great Hudson River Brick Industry, Purple Mtn Press, 2003
Mayone, Mike, "The Gentleman from Ulster" (Mike's great grandfather Joseph founded the MAYONE brickyard in Athens, NY)
Rieck, Fred, IBCA
Web Sites: (Photo credit) (Burleigh drawing) (NY Times, Aug 24, 1890)


Brick Manufacturers Supplying NYC Metro Areas in 1910

Brockway Brick Yard, near Beacon, NY

The Gentleman from Ulster (Joseph Mayone Founder of the Mayone Brickworks)

George Hutton: The Great Hudson River Brick Industry

Haverstraw Brick Museum

Haverstraw's place in history assured by machine

Peekskill's Raymond Chase Collection

Tales From Croton Point



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