Fire clay was also an important early business for the Sligo vicinity. Mr. Copely dug and shipped fire clay in the years prior to the Civil War.
In 1867 George Beer and Henry Reese began to dig on the lot then owned by Henry Reese. The miners at this bank were Henry Kifer, along with his three sons: George, James, David; and Charles Beer with his two songs: D.J. and W.A. (Beer family initials obtained through History of Clarion Co. by A.J. Davis, 1887. The 1870 Piney Twp census shows Charles Beer with sons Daniel and William, who are probably the ones aforementioned.)
In 1873, J. B. Miller erected a fire-brick factory, where he manufactured and shipped a great many fire-brick.
The Star Fire Brick Company, managed by S.P. Harbison, soon made contract for the fire clay and heavy shipments began in 1879 with the Beer & Reese miners, along with many others employed by that firm.
Early shipments were made by boat, the mouth of Piney and Gardner's Eddy being the loading points.
Banks were opened on the Gathers farm, the Joe Myers farm, the Burns farm, the Alexander Armstrong farm, and the Joseph Slaugenhaupt farm. John F. Dunkle superintended the digging and shipping of the clay, which was at first run to Pittsburgh in boats loaded at Piney, and at Gardner's Eddy, where wharfs were built, which, at times, were burdened with probably 2,000 tons of clay at once. When the railroad came to Sligo in 1873, the boating of clay was abandoned, and shipment was made on the cars.
Later, clay banks were opened on the farms of John Kifer, Levi Kifer, James Dixon, Jno. N. Whitmer, S. H. Smith, and Jackson Kirkwood. Nearly all of these last named banks were operated by Mr. Elmer Ellsworth Finefrock. Many other small banks were open.
In 1890, the oil boom in Clarion County slackened, but lumbering and clay-mining increased.
1907 Bulletin - United States Geological Survey: "... In the area south of the river the best clay is reported to have been taken from the Finnefrock farm. Considerable amounts of clay have been taken from the Miller farm, located within 2 miles of the Sligo Branch Railroad. The clay on the Finnefrock and Winkler farms, south of Piney Creek, and on the Mowry farm, north of it, is within 1 1/2 miles of a new railroad now being built by the Lake Shore and Western from Franklin to Clearfield.
The following detailed descriptions of occurrences are given for the purpose of assisting prospectors:
"Piney, 2 miles southeast of, on P.B. Finnefrock and D.C. Winkler farms; several acres of clay have been stripped, but very little is now exposed. The bed is reported to average 4 feet in thickness. In the hill of the Oppelt farm, south of the Finnefrock stripping, the clay is reported to be present also, although it has not been used.
Piney, 2 miles southwest of, on T.N. Whitman farm; old stripping in which clay was reported to average 3 feet in thickness.
Sligo, 2 miles north of, on C.B. McQueen farm; stripping and newly opened drift; average thickness about 3 1/2 feet. A detailed description of this clay is given on p. 340.
Sligo, 1 3/4 miles north of, on J.B. Miller farm; numerous old strippings.
Sligo, 2 1/2 miles northeast of; newly opened stripping on Mike Howard farm; exposed thickness 2 feet; reported thickness 5 feet. In two places just north of this point about one-half acre has been stripped.
In 1917, Sligo Fire Brick Company is found as an employer in WWI draft registration records.
Below are those employed in the clay industry found in various census years
Christy, John — Piney, Brick Mill, abt 1880—1912 — 3/13/1912 - New Castle News, New Castle, PA - FATHER IS DEAD - John Moore Christy, aged 58, is dead at Sligo, Clarion county, Pa., after an illness of about two years. He was born in Brady's Bend and had been engaged in the manufacture of fire brick for many years. He was the founder and at the time of his death, president of the Sligo Brick company. He was a member of the Presbyterian church of Sligo and belonged to the Masoule lodge at New Bethlehem. His widow, one son, Dr. R.R. Christy of Tarentum, and five daughters, Mrs. Edward F. Poole of Elwood City, Mrs. McClure Griffith, and Mrs. L.G. Maier of Pittsburgh and Misses Bessie and Flo*sie, at home, survive.
Cook, Blair—Sligo, Brick Mill Laborer 1900
Davis, Gilmore—Sligo, Fire Clay Laborer 1900
Dunkle, John F.—Piney, Manager of Clay Bank, 1870
Foringer, John B.—Sligo, Brick Mill Laborer, 1920
Greenawalt, Berton—Sligo, Off-bearer (brick), 1920. Son of Jerry Greenawalt
Greenawalt, Jerry —Piney, Brick Moulder, 1880
Greenawalt, Samuel — Piney, Brick Mill Laborer 1880-1900
Hamilton, Andrew—Piney, Works in Pottery, 1880.
Hamilton, Joseph—Piney, Works in Pottery, 1880. Son of Andrew.
Jacob B., son of John and Eliza Ann (Myers) Miller, was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, April 5, 1838. He was brought up on a farm in Lancaster county, and received a common school education. In 1855 he came to Curllsville, Clarion county, Pennsylvania, and was clerk in a store. Returning to Lancaster county, he there remained for five years, then came to Madison Furnace, Clarion county, and was again a clerk. After this he was engaged in business at Callensburg for eleven years. At Sligo he then entered into a mercantile business with one of his sons, under the firm name of J. B. Miller & Son. Later the firm became J. B. Miller & Sons, and the business is still continued by the J. B. Miller & Sons Company. Near Sligo he owned about one thousand acres of land, and he had a saw mill on the Clarion river, at Beaver. Another tract of land, which he owned in Forest county, Pennsylvania, has been sold by him to Judge Harry Wilson, of Clarion. He owns a flouring mill also, at Sligo, and was owner of a brick-making plant at this place, which he operated for some years, but recently sold. At a later time he was engaged in coal operation. He has now retired from business, but continues to reside at Sligo. He is a Republican, but has never held office. His religion is the Presbyterian. He married, in 1859, Sarah Catharine, born in Piney township, Clarion county, Pennsylvania, May 1, 1841, daughter of Jacob and Catharine (Fransue) Mast. Both her parents were natives of Northampton county, Pennsylvania, where her father was born December 20, 1798, her mother May 14, 1803. In 1832 they came to Curllsville. Mr. Mast was a farmer, a Democrat, and a member of the German Reformed church. He died December 4, 1877; his wife had died November 24, 1871. Children of Jacob and Catharine (Fransue) Mast: 1. Isaac, married Sarah Reese; he died aged seventy-nine years, she died aged eighty one years. 2. Lavina, deceased; married Andrew Reese, deceased. 3. Abram, resides in Nebraska, aged eighty-two years; married (first) a Miss McElroy, deceased, (second) Mary McCord. 4. Jacob, died May 10, 1864; he was a Union soldier, and was killed in the battle of the Wilderness. 5. Sarah Catharine, married Jacob B. Miller. Children of Jacob B. and Sarah Catharine (Mast) Miller: 1. William Montgomery, born September 17, 1860; brought up at Callensburg, and attended public school and the Carrier Seminary at Clarion, Clarion county; he is a farmer and a merchant; he is a member of the Free and Accepted Masons; he is a Republican; both he and his wife are Presbyterians; he married, in 1884, Lucy Gales; children: Harry C., born in 1885; Thomas B., born in 1889. 2. Aldus Eortley, born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, August 28, 1862, died February 9, 1913, interred with Masonic honors at Sligo, Pennsylvania; educated at Callensburg and Sligo; he was a merchant at Sligo; he was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons; he was a Republican; he married, in 1883, Fanny Lyon Gales; children: Anna May and Benjamin Gales. 3. Anna May, born July 3, 1868. died in 1883. 4. John B. Source: Genealogical and personal history of the Allegheny Valley, Volume 1 By John Woolf Jordan 1913
Nuneman, Lewis—Piney, Brick Mill, 1880
Saylor, David—Piney, Brick Mill Laborer 1880-1900
Saylor, Edward—Sligo, Off-bearer (brick) 1900. Son of Harland.
Saylor, Harland—Piney, Brick Setter 1880-1900. (In 1900 resident of Sligo)
Silvis, Thomas—Piney, Brick Mill Worker, 1880 (age 16)
Stratton, John—Piney, Brick Mill, 1880
Swarm, Henry—Piney, Brick Maker, 1850
Williams, George—Piney, Brick Mill, 1880
Wiser, Albert Clair—Sligo, Laborer, 1817 (WWI draft registration-employed at Sligo Fire Brick)
History of Clarion County, published circa 1976, compiler unknown.
U.S. Census Images, Piney Twp, Clarion Co., PA
Clarion County Centennial celebration publication, 1940: History of Curllsville
WWI Draft Registration cards
The Clay Era