The Tilsonburg/
Tillson Brick Yard

1869-1902

Initially known as the Tilsonburg Brick Yard and later as the Tillson Brick Yard, the brickyard was opened in 1869 or 1870 by Joseph Van Norman on Block 55 in the Town of Tilsonburg.  

 

Joseph was the older brother of Benjamin Van Norman, and they along with George Tillson and Hirman Capron had operated the iron furnace at Normandale in the 1820’s. After the closure of the Normandale operation, both brothers would eventually move to Tilsonburg, Benjamin in 1836 and Joseph in 1863.

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The exact date brick production began is not known, but County Directories does list the business as early as 1869/70. The 1871 Census as records Joseph Van Norman’s occupation as “brick maker”. Why Joseph, a man in his 70’s, would venture into the production of bricks is not known, but whatever the reason the operation became an important and successful business.  Bricks from this operation were used in many buildings in and around Tillsonburg including; Avondale Church, Annandale House and the “Tillson Block” on Broadway. 

E.D. Tillson would become involved in the business by the mid 1870’s, and by the early 1880’s it would be known as the Tillson Brickyard.

Also by the mid 1870’s, master brickmakers were being employed by Van Norman and Tillson as managers and/or operators of the brickworks. One such gentleman was William Baillie (Bailey) who came to Tilsonburg in 1875.  It would be this individual, who in January 1882 began the Tilsonburg Vitrified Stoneware Pottery, whose works are stamped Tilsonburg Pottery Co.  The Tillson Brickyard would continue production until E. D.’s death in 1902, when the property was sold.