The History of Genesee County, MI
Chapter VIII
Brick Clays

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Clayton



There is hardly a township in the county of Genesee where clays suitable for brick making are not found. In the earliest times, when the city off Flint was just beginning to grow and brick stores were coming into use, the brick was made near Detroit street, in the present fifth ward. Later it was also made in various portions of the second, third and fourth wards. At the present time a sandstone brick is made in large quantities on the western side of the city of flint, by the Flint Sandstone Brick company. This brick, unlike the other makes, is of sand and stone lime. The sand is taken from the lands of the company just outside of the city, and is rich in silica, while the lime comes from the northern part of the state. The annual output of this company is over six million brick, and all of this product finds a market in the city of Flint.

Brick of the common kind is made at Clio, Atlas, Duffield, Gaines, Grand Blanc, south Mundy and Otisville, being the ordinary red brick, from the clays containing oxide of iron.

The county of Genesee contains many artesian wells, the most prominent one being the mineral well at the corner of Saginaw and First streets, in the city of Flint. This well is about three hundred and seventy-six feet deep. When it was first bored, and not to its present depth, Dr. Olson Millard, of Flint, a physician and chemist of recognized ability, analyzed its waters and found it to contain organic elements as follows:


To one pint of water--

Sodium Carbonate

0.434 gr.

Magnesium Carbonate

0.432 gr.

Ferrous Carbonate

0.088 gr.

Calcium Carbonate

0.724 gr.

Potassium Chloride

1,227 gr.

Sodium Chloride

1.591 gr.

Magnesium Chloride

5.232 gr.

Calcium Chloride

0.763 gr.

Calcium Sulphide

9.392 gr.


0.064 gr.


0.054 gr.

Org. matter and loss

0.083 gr.


20.081 gr.


The well bored for salt by H. H. Crapo was also an artesian well and flowed for many years; its waters were too salty for domestic use and were also charged with minerals other than salt. Artesian wells have been drilled at many places in the town of Davison, the one in the village near the depot being typical, the depth running from two to three hundred feet. In Mundy township, and near the line between Flint and Mundy, there are quite a number of artesian wells, also some near the Genesee line northeast of Flint. On the river flats near the Chevrolet plant there are several such wells in use, and of great utility.

Another plant that uses the materials of the county economically to a great extent, is the Builders' Supply company, of Flint, which manufactures building blocks, tile and ornamental cement work, from the cement made at Fenton of the marl described above. This company also finds in the sands of the county another material for its manufacturing purposes, and is not putting out twelve to thirteen hundred blocks of different dimensions per day, all of which is eagerly waited for by the builders of Flint.

The making of the clays of the county has been an industry of Grand Blanc, Atlas and Davison, and also of Duffield, but the present operations are small.

That the greater portion of Genesee county is underlaid by coal strata of economic value is quite certain. In times past there have been attempts to open mines for taking coal, but until recent years it has not been of great success, nor it is at the present time of importance in supplying the needs of the city or county. Mr. Brueck, of Bay City, at one time operated a mine in the northern part of the county, in Montrose, but it was not a paying business and soon ceased. The Genesee Coal company and others in recent years have opened some shafts in the vicinity of Flint, especially on the Burr farm in the eastern part of the city, but their output has been small and difficulties in getting rid of the water as made the mining costly. The industry will probably become important in the future when engineering has solved the water problems, and perhaps it is for the benefit of all that this valuable natural resource be conserved in nature' s storehouse under the county of Genesee for the future use of its teeming thousand, than to have it exhausted by the present generation.

The latitude of the city of Flint is fort-three degrees and one minute north; its longitude is eighty-seven degrees and four minutes west. As the city is nearly the geographical center of the county, the latitude and longitude of the other portions of the county may be determined from that of the city.

The altitudes of the various railway stations, as determined from railways surveys and levelings, are as follows: Crapo Farm, 774 feet above sea level; Davison, 788 feet; Duffield, 780 feet; Fenton, 907 feet; Flint City, at the Grand Trunk depot, 712, and at the Pere Marquette depot, 711 feet; Gaines, 857 feet; Goodrich, 733 feet; Grand Blanc, 839 feet; Linden, 872 feet; Otterburn, 771 feet; and Swartz Creek, 779 feet. At the weather bureau station in Flint, the altitude is 726 fee.


History of Genesee County, Michigan, Her People, Industries and Institutions
by Edwin O. Wood, LL.D, President Michigan Historical Commission, 1916

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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