About Edgar Minerals, Inc.
The Edgar Plastic Kaolin (EPK) Company, reputedly the oldest continuous mining operation in Florida, was founded in 1892 by Charles S. Edgar.
Until the 1870s, the Edgars were farmers in Middlesex County, N. J., near the town of Metuchen. After discovering clay on the farm, Charles S. Edgar with his two brothers, formed the Edgar Brothers Clay Co. and began to mine it during the winter months when there were no crops to tend. They dug the clay with shovels, loaded it onto a wagon and hauled it 12 miles to the town of Perth Amboy, where it was sold to scows headed for Trenton N.J. There it was used in making terra cotta, pottery, bricks and fire-proof containers for enclosing ceramics during firing, called saggers.
Charles learned that nearly all the clay used in producing ceramics and china in the United States was imported from England. Being an ambitious young man and recognizing an opportunity, it prompted him to seek an American source of this material. During his travels throughout the country, he devoted a portion of his time to prospecting. While on a business trip to Boston, Charles learned of the possible existence of undeveloped fine clay deposits in the north central Florida area.
He rode on trains across the state, standing on the rear platforms of the slowest locals he could find, watching the earth where the tracks sliced through. He was looking for white sand which could indicate the presence of the right kind of clay. This clay was a white firing material called kaolin, derived from the Chinese word kaoling, meaning white hill.
His break came in 1880 when a geologist he met at a phosphate mine in Hawthorne, FL advised him that he had seen this kaolin in an area several miles east of there. Acting on this tip, he hired a horse and buggy, explored the area and found what he was looking for. He purchased the land, developed a process to mine the material and started the company in 1888. In 1892 it was incorporated as the Edgar Plastic Kaolin Company.
There was nothing at the location he selected for his mine, but raw land. The nearest town, Palatka, FL, was a full day’s ride by mule. He had to create a town, build houses for workers to live in, a store where they could buy food and supplies, establish a post office for mail, a telegraph office and set up a chapel for religious services.
By 1895 the mine employed 50 workers,
the population of Edgar had grown to over 100 residents and the mine was producing 1000 tons of refined clay per year.
Today, over 118 years later, the dreams and ambitions of one man continue in the form of Edgar Minerals, Inc., supplying not only the domestic market, but the world with EPK kaolin and high quality industrial and construction sands.