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Old Brickyard Chimney

Edward Potter Hemsley (First Property Owner)

Edward Potter Hemsley was born April 23, 1839, at Ditchling, Sussex, England. On May 5, 1862, Edward and his sister, Ellen Potter Hemsley, emigrated to America where their older brother, Richard was already situated in Salt Lake City. Their father, stepmother, and a younger brother, Job, remained in England until some few years later, when they also emigrated.

Edward and Ellen joined a pioneer company led by Captain Miller for the trek to the West. Edward was only twenty-three years of age and he enjoyed the adventure, enduring the hardships and conditions that killed his stepmother a few years later as she traveled to Utah. She was buried along the trail with canvas for a coffin and weeds for memory flowers.

Some time after his arrival in Salt Lake City, Edward married Miriam Simonds who as a young girl had also been in Captain Miller’s pioneer company. The couple settled in Sugar House, where they purchased ground and built a substantial home at 1923 South 1200 East.

Because Miriam suffered from chronically poor health, a neighbor girl named Margaret Brown was employed to help nurse her. Miriam ultimately invited Margaret to marry her husband, which she did in the Salt Lake Endowment House on March 17, 1866. Miriam lived for twelve more years, dying February 24, 1878. Miriam had three children and Margaret had twenty-three.

Edward Hemsley farmed his land and also served as a doctor in the Sugar House area. He was known as Dr. Hemsley, and he treated mental as well as physical ailments and even pulled teeth as required. He compounded a “marvelous” salve that was widely used in treating a diversity of ailments. He was in the early Sunday School superintendency of the Sugar House Ward and used a horse and wagon to transport little children from the district to the house where Sunday School was conducted. He was active in sponsoring dancing and amusements, and was a popular accordionist. In his later years he was appointed warden of the state prison.

Edward Hemsley purchased a tract of land in Mill Creek which he called “THE BRICKYARD.” With his brother Job they manufactured bricks used in construction of early homes, businesses, and church meetinghouses. Bricks from their operations were used to build the first school house in Sugar House. Their business was so vital that Brigham Young rescinded Edward’s mission call so that he might stay home and continue to make bricks. The color of the bricks was obtained from the various levels of clay. For deep red bricks, they would plow two rows of deeply laid yellow clay and one row of black top soil. White brick came from the clay near the top of the pit.

Edward Hemsley died July 22, 1910, at the age of seventy-one.”

History of the Brickyard

In 1878, John P. Cahoon began manufacturing bricks on the old homestead on 4th West and 53rd South in Murray, Utah. As demand increased, he found it necessary to move his plant to a better location. As a result, on January 6, 1891, the SALT LAKE PRESSED BRICK CO., founded by John P. Cahoon, purchased land from Edward Potter Hemsley. This purchase allowed the company to be closer to larger clay deposits, the railroad line and their market. Through the years it became the largest brick manufacturing company in the west. This was the beginning of the BRICKYARD which we know today as the BRICKYARD PLAZA.

In the early days, the bricks were dry pressed by Boyd Presses and removed by hand. Over the years the process was mechanized and automated. The clay was processed in mixing and pulverizing sheds, moved by conveyor belts to “bins” where moisture was added, and then kneaded in “pug mills.” This damp mixture was then extruded from dies and cut into shapes by wire cutters that worked much as egg slicers do. The brick was then “fired” in coal-burning kilns. Through improvements and expansion programs, the plant reached productions of 60,000 bricks per day.

Operations on this site ended on November 28, 1972, when the plant was shut down and dismantled. The company moved its operation to West Jordan, Utah, where it is now located. The chimney was built in 1902 and was called the SMITH KILN CHIMNEY.

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