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Brick and Glass

Brick Industry


Due to an abundance of natural resources - large deposits of shale, limestone and building stone - Coffeyville had a number of brick plants in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s - including the Standard Brick Company, the Vitrified Brick Company, and the Yoke Brick Company.


Bricks made in CoffeyvilleWhen Coffeyville's four brick factories were operating to capacity some 765,500 bricks were made every day. Today these bricks can be seen literally throughout the world and have become a collector's item to many.


In the 1900's bricks were in great demand for sidewalk and street paving. There were 36 blocks of brick streets by 1905 to replace the dust and mud roads.Also, many railroads used bricks for their passenger platforms. Each factory would imprint their brick with a company name or a special design. One of the best known Coffeyville bricks is the yoke brick made by the Yoke Vitrified Brick Company.


Another popular brick is the "Don't Spit on Sidewalk" brick. According to Montgomery County Historian Ivan Pfalser, this brick kicked off a health campaign that eventually swept the country. Born in Pennsylvania in 1862, Crumbine came to Ford County, Kansas, in the 1880s to practice medicine. Beginning in 1904, he served as secretary of the Kansas State Board of Health for twenty years. Crumbine was concerned about the spread of tuberculosis and other diseases and campaigned for their prevention. He became particularly concerned after observing tuberculosis patients spitting on the floor of a train. Crumbine was especially moved to act after watching one of these patients take a drink from a public drinking cup; he then observed a mother giving her child a drink from the same cup without first rinsing it.


Crumbine's public health crusade argued for pure food and drugs, elimination of houseflies and rats, sanitary control of water and sewage, and the prevention of tuberculosis. He succeeded in abolishing the common drinking cup, the common or "roller" towel, and spitting in public places. This is where the “Don’t Spit on the Sidewalk” saying came from. Crumbine promoted these campaigns with other simple and easy to remember slogans, such as "Bat the Rat," and "Swat the Fly."



Glass in Coffeyville


Coffeyville was the home of both blown glass factories and bottle glass factories.


The art of hand blown glass produced a romantic era for Coffeyville between 1901 and 1916. There were 10 glass plants in the city.  A number of homes today have windows of the blown glass from Coffeyville factories, and some collectors have glass fruit jars, plates, and other items which say "Made in Coffeyville."


Glass blowers, who had learned their trade from their fathers and grandfathers in Europe, moved to Coffeyville with their families. In 1901 the Commercial Club had a banquet at the New Mecca Hotel for eastern glass company men who were looking for a plant site. These men chose Coffeyville. The inducements were the cheap natural gas and the practically free plant sites given by the Commercial Club.


More than 1000 jobs were available in the glass factories at one time and it was said that half the town’s adult population was “glass people.” Glass blowers were highly skilled and earned $75 to $100 per week depending upon the amount of their production. The work was seasonal as the hot furnaces did not burn during the summer.


The Coffeyville Window Glass Company was located by the Katy tracks on the present site of the Acme Foundry.  The company employed 175 to 200 workers. One year $200,000 worth of glass products was marketed by the company.  Over 700,000 feet of lumber were used in making boxes in which to ship the glass.


The sunflower glass plant was a cooperative built in 1903. It was owned by the workers and located on the Missouri-Pacific tracks. It employed about 200 men.


The Marion Fruit Jar Company was started by the men from Marion Ohio, and apparently was the same as the Ball Brothers Glass Company. It claimed to make one third of the world’s supply of fruit jars. About 200 persons were employed, and in the winter surplus glass jars were piled in fields awaiting the summer canning season and the closing of the furnaces.


Other glass companies once located in Coffeyville were The Coffeyville Bottle Glass Company, The Premium Fruit Jar & Tableware Glass Company, The Pioneer Flint Glass Company, as well as a small experimental plant where two glass workers experimented in making glass caskets.


Taken from “Coffeyville at 100, Incorporated: A History of Coffeyville”

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