HISTORIC ABER BRICK, JACKSONVILLE, TEXAS, CIRCA 1890
(so-called swastika brick)
Kiln-fired in the late 1800s and branded with an ancient good-luck symbol, this historic brick was loaned to the Vanishing Texana Museum in Jacksonville, Texas, by the Ed Aber family of that community. Our thanks to Sam Hopkins, Ph.D., museum board president, for the opportunity to photograph the brick and card, which reads:
BURNT EARTH BRICK
Made in Jacksonville by Mr. Ed Aber about 1890
The sign X was a universal Good Luck Sign
The business was called Aber Brick Kiln
The Vanishing Texana Museum reopened at its original site after renovation was completed. This WPA-constructed building at 302 South Bolton Street also serves as the Jacksonville Senior Citizens Center.
The Ed Aber brick and our research were written about in a September 25, 2013 article in the Jacksonville Progress.
From The Lives of Texas Brick, our book in progress, here is a snippet about
the symbol, the era, the historic Aber brick
In the 19th century world that Ed Aber knew, the raised brand within a rectangular recess on his burnt earth brick signified good luck. The cross with equal arms that “turn” at right angles is an ancient symbol that evokes whirling motion—like two sticks bound together and twirled to create fire. During the very era that Aber kiln-fired this brick, the symbol had a surge of popularity in the Western world after it was discovered during Heinrich Schliemann’s excavation of ancient Troy. (Schliemann was the “Indiana Jones” of circa 1870 through the turn of the century. His archaeological discoveries were the rage of the late Victorian era and would have been well-known to Aber.) The symbol was also frequently found among Native American tribes, particularly in the Southwest; Hopi and Navajo referred to it as “The Whirling Logs of Healing.” The term swastika derives from Sanskrit su (good) + asti (it is) + suffix ka (soul). The symbol went by other names in other cultures over time, e.g., crux gammata in Rome, fylfot in Britain, tetraskelion in Greece (familiar now as the tetraskele, or “four-leg”).
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Ed Aber probably had no idea of the ancient history of his land, but that clay from which he fired his brick—and Dave Walling fired his in Houston County—came from the soil of the Hasinai Confederation, occupants since 1000 BC as the farthest southwestern outpost of the Mound Builder Culture. Here, Texans called them Caddo, meaning “friend.”
In 1690, Spanish explorers and missionaries found the Caddo truly friendly, living in a highly developed community near today’s tiny village of Weches in Houston County, just 38 miles south of Aber’s Jacksonville in Cherokee County. The Spanish built Mission San Franciso de los Tejas near the Neches River. It remained until 1731 before moving to Bexar County on the San Antonio River where it became Mission San Francisco de la Espada, and remnants still exist.* In Aber and Walling territory, however, we have only the Mission Tejas State Park in its memory.
* Data from Archaeology magazine, May/June 2014, page 10; also, Texas State Historical Association.
Ancient Native American symbol (as on historic Aber brick) adopted by U.S. National Guard c. 1923
45th INFANTRY DIVISION SWASTIKA
Just a few years after its formation in 1923, the 45th Infantry Division—a National Guard unit spanning Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona—adopted this ancient Native American symbol. Assumption of a similar version by the German Nazi party about 1933 forced the 45th’s replacement by their Thunderbird insignia in 1939. For more, see http://45th.45wp.com/Swastika
Displays and storage room artifacts at this museum in Oklahoma City were a gold mine when researching for The Soldier’s Chronology, especially equipment, uniforms and insignia from the Army’s continually-evolving but little-publicized era of the 1920s and 1930s. In appreciation, the author donated a display of unofficial and seldom-seen specialist chevrons from the 1930s.