Brick Company History

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Brick Company History: 1909-1919 - Paul Belden Authorized to Obtain Funds

In 1909, Paul Belden was authorized to obtain any capital needed to operate the business. Paul Belden met with L. B. Hartung, a well known plumbing contractor in Canton. Mr. Belden was successful in persuading Mr. Hartung to invest money in capital stock of the Canton Pressed Brick Company. In 1909, L.B. Hartung became an important shareholder owning about 30% of the capital stock.

Paul Belden was elected to the position of General Manager in 1911 and from that time on, had a free hand in running the company. He was known throughout the brick industry for his accomplishments and received national recognition.

One story has it that he was riding a train through Perry County, Ohio. The train passed an abandoned brick plant, and Paul noticed that the brick stored in the yard was a very appealing shade of red. Paul contacted the bank and found out the plant was in default of the mortgage payment. He wanted the plant and obtained it on very good terms. This eventually became the Somerset Plant of the Belden Brick Company.

The annual meeting of the Canton Pressed Brick Company in 1912 showed that Paul Belden had achieved his goal of obtaining the badly needed capital for operations. At the same meeting, due to P.D. Hardy’s failing health, Henry Belden was once again elected President of the Canton Pressed Brick Company. W.W. Irwin was a well known Canton businessman, and the Board of Directors believed that his election as an officer and director would bring prestige to the Canton Pressed Brick Company. The company filed a request with the Secretary of the State of Ohio asking for permission to consolidate all of their operations under a new name. A certificate of consolidation was received on October 30, 1912 that made it official. The company would now operate under the name of The Belden Brick Company.

At the annual stockholders meeting in 1913, W.W. Irwin was elected President, Henry Belden Vice President, Paul Belden Secretary/General Manager and P.W. Hartung Treasurer.

In 1915 the directors approved the building of two new kilns and a new dryer at the Canton plant to handle increased business. In 1916 the Company had a good stock of finished brick on hand, which was expected to be very profitable when the building season opened up in the spring. Paul Belden then told the board that every operation in their plants that could be done by machinery should be done that way. The directors backed his recommendation. At the annual meeting of stockholders in 1918, Paul Belden described some of the problems they were experiencing in trying to operate their plants in wartime. Labor and material for plant maintenance were expensive and almost impossible to come by. Both the Canton and Somerset plants were now closed down because the company could not get rail cars for coal to burn brick or rail cars to ship brick. Still, Paul remained optimistic. He believed that the building era following the war would bring a staggering demand for brick.

In 1918, the directors of The Belden Brick Company realized there were financial problems at the Belden Face Brick Company located at Port Washington. The Belden Face Brick Company was a personal venture of Henry Belden.

In July 1918, the directors of The Belden Brick Company authorized the treasurer to loan Belden Face Brick Company as much money as it needed, in exchange for bonds to be held as collateral. Then in October 1919, Belden Brick purchased stock in the Belden Face Brick Company and by 1920 they held shares in the amount of more than twice the money that they had loaned Belden Face Brick. Now Belden Face Brick again had a strong sales force for their product. The Belden Brick Company now had a continuing source of face brick on which they were paid a good commission.

They were also receiving a healthy return on their stock investment. W.W. Irwin had been ill for some time and retired as President. Once again, Henry Belden was President of Belden Brick Company. His appointment was short-lived. Henry Belden died on April 21, 1920 after a brief illness. By late 1922 The Belden Brick Company held a controlling interest in The Belden Face Brick Company.