Dominick Mader’s Brick Yard in State Road Coulee

In State Road Coulee

Dominick’s brick yard had its beginning in 1858 when Gunkle and Bloomer of Ohio began the manufacturing of brick on State Road. Valentine Weimer operated the Gunkle and Bloomer kilns until he bought them out for $800 in 1862.

After Weimer’s death, Frank, Dominick, and David purchased the brickyard on the estate sale for $4,750 in January of 1878. On April 13th, the same day David sold his farm to Theodore, he gave Frank and Dominick his share for $1.00 Later that year on December 4th, Dominick bought out his brother Frank and became the sole owner. The brick yard had one shed.

Mamie (Mader) Herman wrote about the yard to her niece Margaret:

“…The brickyard shed was about 120 feet long. I think it could have three kilns at a time, when they were burning brick they used cordwood, and in later years, coal and peat was kept burning with a blower run by a gas engine. When the kilns got too hot, some of the boards on the roof of the shed were taken off. Art and Emily North were the kiln builders.
“August was the mud maker. He drove the team on the mud wheel. There were two men to fill the the molds with mud. Dominick Jr. and Henry were the carry off boys. They carried a mold the length of three bricks, from the molding table to the drying yard.
“After the bricks were dry they were built into hacks, and covered with two boards nailed together to form a trough, so they would not get wet, if it rained. They were called wash brick if they got wet and would not bring a good price.”

During the busy season up to 30 men were employed at the Mader brick works.(1) They were paid board plus a small salary. In the 1880’s workers received $25.00 to $50.00 a month. Brick making was seasonal work from May to September.

Dominick and Theodore furnished the brick for the first St. Nicholas Parish on 13th and Park St. They sold the brick at $6.00 per thousand.

The Cargill Mansion on Twelfth and Case Streets was built ca. 1880 of Mader brick selling at $4.75 per 1,000. The bricks were a special bargain during a slack season. The mansion was a residential show place of La Crosse. (The home was torn down by the Presbyterian Church.)

Three yards manufactured common brick around La Crosse in the 1890s; Dominick Mader, M.J. Meyer who opened in 1883 and the Schnell Brothers who opened in 1890.

Dominick owned the business 28 years before he sold it for $4,000 in April of 1906 to his nephew John Boma, who later dismantled the works.

(1) There is confusion between Dominick’s yard and the older one on David’s farm which the older family members don’t remember. The 30 employees could have been at either brick yard during a busy time. Family members recall the brick yard called “State Road Coulee Brick Yard.”