Because  You Asked . . . .

Galena Tile Company on Holmes Street

Galena Brick Had 150 Employees

One the the first settlers in Berkshire Township was a brick mason who built Major Brown's house just northeast of the the intersection in Berkshire Corners.  The house, which was torn down years ago, had slits for rifles to protect the inhabitants from Indian attacks.  Many other old brick homes still exist throughout the Big Walnut school district.  Charity Masonic Lodge, later the Odd Fellows Lodge, in Galena has 1826 in the keystone.  Other brick buildings may be older but this is dated.  Many other buildings made of sun baked bricks are newer, such as Sunbury's Town Hall.

To produce the early brick, clay was scraped from nearby fields and mixed with water in a rotary mixer pulled by horses.  The wet clay was then put in wooden molds to shape the bricks.  Later the bricks were dumped on the ground to dry.  After the drying process, the bricks were "hacked up" on a level spot placing straw between the layers of brick and leaving tunnels through the lower portion of the hack.  Wood was put in the tunnels and kept burning night and day for a week or more.  Then the bricks were ready for building.

In addition to brick, drain tile was in big demand.  The Chadwick tile mill operated on 605 between Condit Station and South Condit.  It was not in business long.

In 1893, the Galena Tile Company began on Holmes Street.  The plant had a large steam boiler and engine which provided power for a sawmill and grist mill.  During the summer months drain tile and bricks were manufactured from surface clay and fired in bee-hive shaped kilns.

Galena Clay Products Company was incorporated in 1907 with the following officers:  W. C. Roberts, president; J. J. Adams, vice president; James Rose, secretary; E. B. Cole, manager; and E. C. Bennett.  They manufactured tile having one kiln with a capacity of about $200 worth of tile at a burning.  They had four acres and employed six to eight people in 1908 when James Lytle wrote 20th Century History of Delaware County

Meanwhile in Delaware, Ohio, Bernard LeRoy Shultz, former owner of a brick and tile businesses in Waynesfield and Wapakoneta and a coal mine in southern Ohio, was selling real estate and studying geological maps when he discovered Bedford shale, which makes the strongest bricks, a few miles from Galena.  In 1924, Shultz and Edwin C. Bennett, owner of Galena's one kiln plant, formed a corporation of local investors and changed its name to The Galena Shale Tile and Brick Company.  They built a two mile railroad, known as the "dinky" to the locals, to bring the shale from the open pit strip-mine operation, over the Big Walnut Creek and under the CCC highway to the plant.  Additional kilns were built and brick, building tile and drain tile were manufactured year round.  In 1932, Bernard's son John W. started a trucking business to deliver brick directly to the building site - a first in the industry.

When B. L.'s health began to fail, he hired Russell Miller as plant manager.  Following a fire in 1935 which destroyed the original plant, a new one was built to just make brick. When Shultz died in 1937,  his son John W. became the president.  When Miller returned to farming in the early 1940s, John W. became the general manager of the brick plant but with his wife he continued to operate a dairy farm with home delivery of dairy products, his trucking business which had expanded to include a 24-hour gasoline station and dealership for farm and home appliances.

Under John's leadership, the business  thrived and was remodeled in 1950 to include more modern manufacturing techniques.  In 1953, John and Esther, his wife, sold their stock in the motor freight business, retaining the buildings and adding a feedmill to the farm machinery sales.  They ceased home delivery but continued to sell milk to Bordon until 1957 when they shut down the dairy operation and John concentrated on the brick plant. 

In 1957 a tunnel kiln was built to provide continuous movement of brick on insulated cars through the fires of the burning process.  The brick plant had 150 employees in 1976 - the largest employer in Galena.

Building preferences influenced the types of bricks made.  In addition to cored and solid bricks, colored bricks were made.  The old colonial look was in vogue so the plant began making more of them around the time of the nation's Bicentennial.  

Trends changed again and the need for bricks with the handmade look declined. Builders wanted smooth, machine made bricks which sold for less than the Galena bricks. The plant folded in 1983 and Frank Hopper, of Delaware, bought it at public auction.

In 1987, Frank, his son, Tom, and Tom's wife, Sally began making bricks once again in hopes for revitalizing the plant. The plant was again closed and put on the market in 1995.  In 1998, Galena Commerce Center, LLC., bought the property and rented it to several tenants, none making bricks. 

Thanks to family histories by Jane Shultz Davis in "The People Book," and to the booklet, "Famous Galena Brick," put out by John Shultz around 1976.  Both are available in Community Library.  Thanks to Paul Miller for additional history an some identification of people in photos.  The library has many photos without identification of the brick plant employees.  If you know anyone in the photos, please let Polly Horn know.

More Pictures:    
File0008-WestSide-600.jpg (110411 bytes) PO-Lodge.JPG (26341 bytes) ChadwickConditTileMill-600.JPG (63404 bytes) galenatilemill-pc-600.jpg (58369 bytes) File0092-600.jpg (56934 bytes)
West side of Galena square with brick Dustin Inn and Lodge Hall 
circa 1900
Charity Masonic Hall became Odd Fellow Hall and Galena Post Office
34 Park Street
Chadwick Mill in Condit Circa 1910

Helen Campbell photo

Brick-1910-600.jpg (120141 bytes)
File0093-600.jpg (79379 bytes) File0094-600.jpg (60712 bytes) File0095-600.jpg (76303 bytes) File0096-600.jpg (78527 bytes) GalBrickEmp-1930-600.jpg (89911 bytes)

Helen Campbell photo

Helen Campbell photo

Building a new kiln
Helen Campbell photo

Stacks of drain tiles
Helen Campbell photo

Employees in 1930

GalBrickemp1940-600.JPG (129757 bytes)  Brick-1976-600.jpg (151382 bytes) FillMolds1976.jpg (90827 bytes) StrikeMold-1976-535.jpg (89295 bytes)
70 Employees in June 1940
Helen Campbell photo
Aerial circa 1976 Filling wooden molds

Striking out Filled Molds

Galena Brick

from Booklet - Circa 1976
KilnCar-1983-600.jpg (22014 bytes) Brick-office-1983-600.jpg (64249 bytes) Brick-1983-600.jpg (65594 bytes) Brick-Hopper1988-600.jpg (156726 bytes) 1930Brick-1988-600.jpg (90969 bytes)
Kiln Car

Brick Plant Office

Aerial 1983 Tom Hopper
Columbus Dispatch
January 1988

1930 Brick Making Machine operated by Dave Tiller in 1988


. . . .And Now You Know
by Polly Horn


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(11/03/2011 )

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