Friday, April 29, 2016

Channel Cat Tales: Early Tile Factory in PInkstaff

In researching the companion exhibits to be shown in conjunction with the Smithsonian Water/Ways Exhibit to be held in Lawrenceville Sept 3-Oct 15, 2016, the Historical Society design team needed to show how water has affected different aspects of local life.  One very significant way is how farmers irrigate or use drainage techniques to control water.

Drainage of wet soil to produce better growing conditions has a long history in Lawrence County.  First drainage ditches were used to drain the land.  Then terra cotta tiles were used. 

In 1886 David F Johnson from Ohio started a tile factory in Pinkstaff to supply the tiles.  His company, D. F. Johnson and Son advertised that they could manufacture 25,000 bricks per day; they sold them for $6-8 per thousand.  No information has been learned to date as to how many tiles were  made or the price per tile, but judging by the amount shown in an early photograph, this part of the business thrived.  The stock holders of the company were paid with tile. Being located next to the railroad in Pinkstaff, the business continued until 1918 when the labor force was depleted by WWI.