A History of Wapello County – Ottumwa Brick Plants

G. Ostdiek began the manufacture of brick in Ottumwa in 1869, and was soon joined by H. B. Ostdiek. They were the pioneers of the business here in Ottumwa. G. Ostdiek retired, and H. B. Ostdiek afterwards bought the Swift & Campbell brickyards at Riverview, where he has thirteen acres of land. Four large kilns, a huge work room, including the power house, a house for the brick molding machines and a dry house of great capacity. The output was about 15,000 brick a day.

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The Ottumwa Brick & Tile Co., distinguished as the only plant in the midwest which produces natural red and buff building material, was founded in 1891 by W. H. Stevens, C. O. Taylor, J. C. Jordon, J. W. Jordon, Samuel Mahon and the Smith brothers from North English, Iowa. Initially, the company was known as the Ottumwa Brick & Construction Co., and its principal product was paving brick. In 1896, D. F. Morey became active in the organization and took over the controlling interest. Drain tile and building material were produced, and a plant was built for the manufacture of pottery. In 1911 the firm name was changed to Morey Clay Products Co.

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The Morey Clay Products Plant, west of Ottumwa, had a large tract of rich clay, well adapted to the making of brick, stoneware and other clay products. Numerous kilns of various kinds and sizes, some for burning brick and others for pottery. The plant employed about 125 people. The products produced were common brick, paving, vitrified and hollow brick, to the number of 20,000,000 a year. They also produced large quantities of file and fireproof material and vitrified stoneware.