ISAAC REESE, the descendant of an old and thrifty family, noted for its longevity, and the inventor of the Reese
silica fire brick, now in such general use throughout the United States, was born in Wales, in 1820, and is a son
of William Reese. The Reese family is remarkable for the great age attained by many of its members. Isaac Reese's
paternal greatgrandfather lived to be one hundred and four years of age and one of his sons (grandfather) died
at one hundred and six years of age. William Reese (father) married and came, about 1835, to western Pennsylvania.
He is now engaged in the fire brick business at Bolivar, Westmoreland county. He was born in 1787, and although
now in the one hundred and third year of his age, yet is remarkably hale and hearty.
Isaac Reese was reared in. Wales, received a good business education and came to Pennsylvania, where he located
in Pittsburgh. Soon after his arrival in the Iron City, he engaged in the fire brick business, which he has continued
ever since. He is a member of the Baptist church and a republican in politics. He owns some valuable real estate
in Pittsburgh, where he has always resided since coming to this country.
He married Elizabeth Jones, who is a native of Wales.
Isaac Reese, besides his Manorville fire brick plant, owns another one at the mouth of Cowanshannock creek, in
Valley township. The Phoenix Fire brick works, at Manorvi ile, were started, in 1880, to. make ordinary fire brick,
but since December 16,1 884, when Isaac Reese patented his "Reese Silica Brick," the works have run night
and day to supply the demand for these silica brick. Of late years great improvements have been made in making
high grades of steel and a continued demand has been made for a better fire brick than could be obtained in the
United States. From 1863 to 1884 the demand for this high grade brick, especially by open hearth steel furnaces,
was supplied by brick brought from Europe at a very great cost. After ten years of experimenting on a quartz rock
which he found on the Allegheny river, Mr. Reese patented a silica brick which is far superior to the European
brick, which it has driven entirely from the American market. The Reese Silica brick are of uniform size and weight,
are practically free from expansion or contraction under varying temperatures and give the best of satisfaction
in the construction and use of glass, open hearth, copper and other metallurgical furnaces. Wuth's analysis of
this brick is: Silica, 97.52 parts; alumina, 1.72; lime, .57; iron, .16; and magnesia .03, making a total of one
hundred parts. The material is indurated and an exact amount weighed into the mold for each brick, hence their
freedom from contraction or expansion and their uniform weight. Mr. Reese has received hundreds of testimonials
in regard to the many good qualities of his brick from his numerous patrons, including prominent furnace, glass
and plate glass companies.
Mr. Reese employs over one hundred and forty hands at his two Armstrong county firebrick works, which he runs night
and day and from which he turns out daily eight thousand silica fire brick. His works have a capacity of two million
bricks per year and he ships them to every manufacturing State and territory of the Union, especially to the gold,
silver and copper smelting works of Colorado, and exports some to other countries. He now manufactures nothing
but silica brick and cannot fill the demand for them. They have about driven the imported article from the market
and are used exclusively by all the plate glass works of the United States. He is assisted in his business by his
three Sons: George W., Benjamin P. and Walter L., of whom the first is general superintendent and the latter two
are assistant superintendents of the works. Isaac Reese, in his process of manufacturing silica brick, has secured
to the world an important and useful discovery and has laid the foundation of a valuable branch of industry in
Biographical and Historical Cyclopedia
of Indiana and Armstrong Counties, Pennsylvania
Samuel T. Wiley, Historian & Editor
John M. Greshan & Co.
Armstrong County Pennsylvania Biographies
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