Stories from Medora Brick Plant
Indiana 425 southwest of Medora in Jackson County
History Photos preservation BRickMaking People HoME
* Note the Medora Brick Plant site is
by a private owner and IS NOT open to the public in any way.
|Plant's truck driver's were almost celebrities||
My name is
Joe Holbrook I live in Brownsburg, IN and grew up in Medora, living
next door to Haley Reynolds and his wife Helen. They were known to everyone
as "Pap" and "Mim". Pap drove a brick truck for the brick plant. I was
known as Joey back then and Pap's grandson Kevin (Jake the Snake) Davis was
my best friend. Every now and then, Pap would let us ride in the truck
with him out to the brick plant to drop off the empty trailer and pick up
the next day's load. This was always exciting!
The brick truck drivers were almost celebrities in Medora. The ones I remember best are Haley (Pap) Reynolds, of course, Chin Trueblood, Boob Davis and Bobby Lane. Bernard Gray (plant superintendent) lived just up the street from my family there on George Street. His red 1/2 ton GMC Medora Brick truck was a familiar sight.
Francis Trueblood was one of the brick truck drivers. The whole town knew him as "Chin" Trueblood. He was one of Medora's more colorful characters. Nearly everyone my age and older has a Chin Trueblood story. Chin mowed yards and cemeteries in the summer. I lived next to the ball park in town. The part of our yard that got mowed was a little over an acre and I did it with a push mower. More than once, Chin helped me cut my yard with his rider so I could go play baseball at the park.
Later, when I came home from college to visit my parents, Larry and Billie Holbrook, I always came into town through Vallonia. As soon as I turned off of SR135 onto SR 235 headed into town, I could often see the smoke from the brick plant. I knew then, that I was home. It was always a comforting sight.
Most people that I meet don't know where Medora is but, those who do, know about it because of the covered bridge, Burcham's round barns or the brick plant. My wife, Marla, and I were visiting with one of her childhood neighbors in Indianapolis. As it turns out, her neighbor used to sell fork lifts to Jim Heller.
The brick plant is part of my childhood. One of a number of treasured memories and experiences collected while growing up in the small town of Medora. firstname.lastname@example.org
|Focus in the early
years on street & road paving brick says 1917 newspaper ad
Prior to the mid 1920's Medora Shale Brick Company specialized in bricks for
paving for streets in - for example - Seymour, Columbus, Scottsburg, North
Vernon, Bedford, Richmond, Rushville, Osgood, Salem, Louisville, Chicago and
the roadway between French Lick and West Banden.
Ad mentions road builders experimenting with other materials - that in time
might have contributed to the switch after ~1925 to face brick for building
Employee goes for
his shot gun when
his employment is terminated and Christmas bonus withheld for not working a six day schedule as required of other plant employees
|Story about Bernard Gray, plant manager, and an unnamed former employee. Coming soon|
|BrickHouse Sent by Mail||
BRICK HOUSE SENT BY MAIL / Uncle Sam's
Parcel Post Gets Its Heaviest Package
[Seymour DAILY REPUBLICAN, 21 February 1913 p1c2]
C.C. McMillan, of the Medora Shale Brick Company, sent by Parcel Post this morning a brick of local manufacture to be used in building a brick house at the Coliseum Chicago during the Clay Products Exposition which is to be held February 26th to March 8th. This brick will be one of 25,000 sent by parcel post from every brick plant in the United States to be used in the construction of this house, which will be given away and re-erected after the exposition.
The idea was originated to test the merits of the Parcel Post system and it is certainly a novel one. A record will be kept of each brick from the time the brick is mailed until it is delivered in Chicago in order to see how speedily Uncle Sam can deliver a brick house by mail.
It is probable that Uncle Sam's mail carriers in Chicago will not be overly enthusiastic for this method of delivery of a brick house. Other mail carriers throughout the country will watch the experiment with interest and fear and trembling. While the brick fireproof home is becoming more and more popular because of its permanency, economy and superiority, it is not probably that they will be delivered by mail to any alarming extent.
At any rate The Medora Shale Brick Co. will have a brick in the first brick house ever sent by mail.
|Judging the weather by drift of brick plant smoke||
It was said that if you were out in the field and smoke from the brick
plant went up the hollow (Hughes Holler) behind it you had better seek shelter, because it
WOULD rain. It worked every time I saw it.
retired school administrator
grew up in homes near the brick plant
also by Larry Bennett who wrote in Feb. 2006...
Around the Plant
was Tough Work
fired in the kilns eventually were wheel barrowed down to the wooden box
cars waiting on the B & O rail spur. At one point early on (year?),
according to a story passed down in his family, Ralph Gray said bricks which
weren't fully cooled were wheeled to a box car. The box car caught
fire due to the heat still held in the bricks. The time allotted for
cooling was surely extended as a result.
Medora Brick Co.
by the Hand of God or the Governor of Kentucky
brick dealer an hour away called the Medora brick plant's salesman to invite
him to a meeting where brick samples were going to be reviewed and a
selection made for placement on a large university building to be
constructed in the State of Kentucky.
The salesman and dealer walked into the room where 28 different competing brick samples were laid out. In comes the Governor of the State who was known as a real politician and who was the one who was actually going to select the brick! (Governor's name is not mentioned nor the particular university - at this point - until the story can be verified by another source.)
The Governor commented that all of the brick were so beautiful. Any one of them would be beautiful on the building. He said he didn't know how he could possibly pick one over another. And, since there was no good way to chose perhaps the fairest thing to do would be for him to close his eyes, and walk amongst the samples and at some point put his hand down, thus selecting the brick that would be used. Respectfully and probably reluctantly all agreed to the governor's proposal.
eyes closed the Governor walked the samples three or four times, stopped,
put his hand down.... directly on Medora's brick!!! And everyone was said to
have walked out happy, believing that they at least had a "fair chance". ;-)
|Offer to put muscle to the collection of a debt in Detroit.||
Jim Heller, plant owner, tried to collect a debt from a client in Detroit using a Detroit
attorney. Initial efforts by the attorney were not successful.
The attorney sent word back to Mr. Heller that if he really wanted his money a couple of fellows could be arranged for who would
pay a visit to the client and
"just get the money".
Mr. Heller felt that if that's how they did things in Detroit that in
retaliation the client who owed the debt might then in turn send some fellows his way
to Medora, so he didn't go further
to collect the debt and he swore off shipping things to Detroit and other
places that might operate the same way.
|Attractive to Hobos||
Paul Carr of Vallonia,
well known in Jackson, County for his historical knowledge and efforts, was raised on the farm that sits
south and across the current rail line south of the brick plant. Paul
says that during the height of the Depression hobo’s traveling the rail line
used to be attracted by the brick plant’s lights and heat, and would try to
hang out there during the cooler months of the year.
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