The story of the Coxsackie brickmakers

Contributed photoPowell and Minick Brick. The last to be made in the Hudson Valley.

Brick made in the Hudson Valley helped build New York City during the 19th and 20th centuries. Greene County played a major role with an abundant supply of brick and clay. Evidence of the bygone era can still be found at low tide as tiny pieces of reddish-orange brick on the shoreline of the Hudson. The last brick manufacturer in New York State was the Powell and Minnock Brick Company in Coeymans. It was founded in the late 1880’s and ceased operations in 2001.

Businesses that made bricks were called brick yards probably because in the early days bricks were sun dried and large areas or yards were necessary for laying the bricks out for drying. Today I am republishing an article titled “Village Once Had Twenty Brickmakers” from an article in the 1952 Centennial edition of the “Coxsackie Union News.”

Village Once Had Twenty Brickmakers

One of Coxsackie’s greatest industries in the 1800s was brick making, and at one time there were nearly twenty yards operating in the village

There was abundant material in this section, both sand and clay, for the manufacture of brick. And there was the river right at the front door, offering the finest and fastest in transportation and freighting.

The era, of course, passed. Some yards failed and went out of operation, some bought out other yards and enlarged, some reached the very pinnacle of success. But at the last the raw material which was the life blood of the industry gave out.

Brick is still manufactured along the Hudson … the yards of Coeymans are the notable example … but for Coxsackie there is little chance of its ever becoming an important contributor in this field again.

The leading brick makers of the day and the location of their yards follows:

Patrick Stephenson, operated near the Methodist Church (this would be where the last Methodist Church was located on Church Street).

Silas Holbrook, operated on the site of the Malleable Iron Works and later Superior Projector Plant (now the site of the Coxsackie DPW buildings on Mansion Street).

Madison Parker, co-owner with Silas Holbrook.

Samuel King, operarted on a location east of his residence.

Olney F. Wright, operated south of the later residence of Dr. Greene.

Nathan Hubbell, operated on New Street.

John B. Bronk, bought out Hubbell yards.

Henry Wolfe, operated west of 9-W Highway.

______ French, operated west of old J. Cuyler, Vosburgh home.

P.W. Van Bergen, operated south of the Methodist Church (again on Church Street).

Abraham Vosburgh, operated south of the Methodist Church.

Peter Hubbell, operated on property where his residence was located; location unknown.

Arthur Beattie, operated on property where his residence was located.

Captain Isaac Smith, operated at Lower Landing.

James Wilson, operated near Dr. Van Slyke’s residence.

Henry Mackey, bought out James Wilson.

Cooper & Bell, bought out Henry Mackey.

Joseph Wells, operated in south part of the village.

Isaac Van Schaack, operated in south part of the village.

John Walker, operated in south part of the village.

It is estimated that at least fifty million tons of bricks were manufactured in the village. Brick sold in New York at this time at $3.50 or $4 per thousand, and the top labor wage was $1.00 a day.

To reach columnist David Dorpfeld, e-mail gchistorian@gmail.com or visit him on Facebook at “Greene County Historian.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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