Lipscomb, located three miles north of Stuarts Draft, Virginia, was a rural community that sprung up in the last century. Many people have wondered about the origin of the name of the main highway running through the area, called China Clay Road.
In 1864, the Porcelain and Terra Cotta Company, an English firm, was chartered in Lipscomb. Much of the manufacturing equipment was imported from England. The director of the company, Hugh Stewart, had been in charge of one of the largest porcelain and terra cotta works in England. The Lipscomb location manufactured tile, terra cotta cups, saucers, bowls and pitchers. The operation burned down in 1874, but was rebuilt.
Sometime during these years a kaolin deposit was discovered on the property. The term kaolin was first used in 1712 to refer to the manufacturing of porcelain in France. The substance, used to make porcelain, paper, rubber, white cement and some medicines, was used by the Chinese to make their lightweight porcelain dishes, called “China”.
The building of the railroad in 1882 helped bolster the operation, and a station was built to accommodate the booming industry. This allowed their bricks, which were said to be superior to any other bricks in the country, to be transported to destinations far outside the borders of Augusta County. The Virginia China Clay and Firebrick Company purchased the Porcelain and Terra Cotta Company property in 1883, in order to utilize the rare natural kaolin deposit.
In 1887, the railway company reported the shipments from Lipscomb by rail: 34 tons of wheat, 29 tons of corn, 14 tons of oats, 10 tons of hay, 12 tons of tobacco, 99 tons of bark and 18 tons of iron.
The site of the old Virginia China Clay and Firebrick Co. is now owned by Waynesboro Nursery.