1950s Conner Kiln, Hwy 72, Benton Co. MS
Stoneware Research Recently, due to the Mississippi stoneware article on the Delta Archaeology website, I was contacted by James R. Cormany, who has been researching the Monroe and Itawamba County stoneware potteries. He has prepared an extensive, well-researched and well-documented history of the northeast Mississippi potteries. His 2001 report "The Potteries of Itawamba and Monroe County Mississippi Churn Suppliers to the Mid South" is available from James R. Cormany, 1656 28th Avenue South, Homewood AL 35209, phone 205 879 5950. The cost is $35.
Cormany recognizes the regional and intergeneration aspects of the Southern stoneware industry. He dates the northeast Mississippi industry to 1890-1950, and has compiled a list of persons known to have worked in the area. One of the them, James Kerr later worked in the Holly Springs factory, and several moved to Texas and worked in the Marshall Pottery, one of the last survivors of the type. Cormany interviewed surviving workers and descendants and has documented examples of products of the various shops. The bibliography includes Cormany's (1999) report "The Rye Pottery, Marion County Alabama." The text is not referenced or paginated. 18 pages text, 11 color plates, 2 maps, acknowledgements and bibliography. I am looking forward to meeting Mr. Cormany the next time I am in Birmingham, see in some of his private collection and his Rye Pottery research. I am interested in seeing what the degree of redundancy in our data is. I feel that I have fairly-well covered Arkansas, but I am still finding records of new (to Me) Mississippi potteries. I have not yet compared his list and data to mine, but I will list here the potteries he discusses in more or less detail:
Monroe County MS
W.D. Suggs, Smithville,ca. 1900-1950
WilliamC. Davis/Davis and Son/Davis Brothers, Smithville, 1922-1954
Mills, Smithville, short-term, 1930s
Duncan Pottery/Stone and Duncan, Amory, 1940s-60s
Itawamba County MS
Ephiram Kennedy, Hopewell Church, ca. 1890-1920s, later of Sulligent, Lamar Co. AL
John Young, Hwy 23 vicinity, 1930s-40s.
M.E. Sallis and James Plunkett, Tremont/Mt. Moriah, 1930s
James Kerr, Wilson Rd/State Line Road, short-term, 1930s
Solomon Harris, with Summerford at State Line, 1920s-30s
W.D. and D.E.Summerford, P.O. Bexar Alabama, Hopewell Church, ca. 1880?-190s, son D.E.to 1941
R.J. Middleton, P.O. Bexar AL, Tremont/State Line Road, 1915/1920-1939
Illustrated items include Loyd-licensed cobalt-decorated slab grave markers from W.D. Suggs shop and incised bell or conic gravemarkers from the Davis Pottery as well as some examples of garden pottery and photos of the Suggs #2 kiln. Rubber stamps were used by these potters in the 20th century and most are highly similar ovals with maker, address, and capacity. They are meant for use with cobalt over white/cream glazes. These include:
Davis Brothers/Smithville, Miss. (3 gallon churn)
Davis & Son/Smithville, Miss (4 gallon churn)
W.D. Suggs/Smithville, Miss (2 and 4 gallon churn)
J. Davis Pottery/Smithville, Miss (2 gallon churn)
D.E. Summerford/Bexar Ala. (3 gallon churn)
D.E. Summerford,/Bexar Ala (pitcher, oval but no capacity indicated)
W.D. Suggs/Smithville Miss. (2 gallon churn)
Young's Stoneware/Tremont, Miss. (2 gallon churn, circle)
M.E. Silas (sic)/[Trenton]Miss. (3 gallon churn)
R.J. Middleton/Bexar, Ala. (3 gallon, one handle and 5 gallon, 2 handle churns)
Stoneware pottery has attracted my interest because its manufacture is indicative of a past agricultural lifestyle that emphasized self-sufficiency. We tend to believe that the Scotch-Irish stockmen, later small farmers had a great deal of this fabled "self-reliance" and that the Black tenants who grew Mississippi's cotton relied on someone else to supply their needs and wants. But is this true? Stoneware was most used in a time when most Mississippi people, if they had such things as wheaten yeast bread, butter, pickles, wine, beer, molasses, and preserves at all, typically made them themselves, very often using stoneware crocks, churns, bowls, pans and canning jars. In addition, while refined earthenwares (whiteware and ironstone) were typically imported from Staffordshire, England, or later, the Ohio Valley, the manufacture of stonewares was one of the rare native or local industries in the rural Southern landscape.
As a native of Sledge, Mississippi, whose only industry besides agriculture has long been the mining and export by rail of ball or kaolin clay, I have long been aware of and interested in clay products, but I have generally confined this interest to prehistoric ceramic technology and style. I have had a passing interest in stonewares since one day in my childhood, while hunting fossils on the Friars Point sandbars, I found an Albany slipped jug instead. I used it for a water jug for nearly 15 years, until one cold night I used it to prop my cabin door closed and it froze and cracked. The durability of these ceramics is great; my grandmother, like many of our mothers and grandmothers, preserved some of her grandmother's mid 19th century stoneware jars. In 1996, while employed at Garrow & Associates, Memphis, I was sent to survey the Meridian Naval Air Station (Thomasson & Associates 1996), a 10,000 acre tract which, while it has minimal evidence of prehistoric and Choctaw occupation, has many 19th century sites as well as a stoneware pottery site. The pottery, operated by the Vestal and then later the Wedgeworth families, had been investigated shortly beforehand by my schoolmate Ken Carleton, archaeologist for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. From my discussions with Carleton and other colleges of the site and stonewares in general I came to realize that this is a under-utilized source of archaeological data, and one that, with some significant exceptions, has apparently attracted little interest in our area. Since that time I have been gradually gathering information on MidSouth stoneware potters, and I have recently presented the results of my research as they pertain to Arkansas (Starr 2001).
The stoneware industries of many areas of North America have been studied from the historical and archaeological standpoint. These studies range from those carried out in most states, to those of such national concerns as the Smithsonian Institution (Sweezy 1984). The best studies are those of areas such as the Ohio Valley, where there were economically strong industries (Mitchell 1980, Schaltenbrand 1983….). However, even in some Southern areas such as North Carolina (Zug 1986) and Texas (Humphreys and Schmidt 1976), where the industries were in general small, but still significant from a local standpoint, there have also been extensive archaeological investigations. In the Midsouth, Alabama has seen some significant studies (Willett and Brackner 1983), and the state of Tennessee has been well-studied in a state-wide survey, unfortunately out-of-print, but now being revised.
There is good potential for documentation of Mississippi stoneware potteries, such as 19th century population and manufacturing censuses, state geological publications, and modern ethnographic studies of still-extant traditional stoneware potteries. Studies of the modern potteries are generally from an artistic and ethnohistorical standpoint, but they provide a firm basis for more archaeologically-oriented studies through their discussions of such matters as learning and developing skills, work organization and physical structure, and marketing patterns. Historical background from early 20th century studies of Mississippi pottery clay sources forms the main basis of this paper. I summarize these studies, both from the aspect of mineralogy and from the aspect known Mississippi manufactures. This information should be used to better inform any future archaeological investigations of potteries. I have suggested some areas needing investigation and presented the results of the Vestal-Wedgeworth site investigations as a preliminary indication of what is to be found at these manufacturing sites.
Before describing the Mississippi Stoneware potteries, I will give descriptions and definitions of some technical terms needed to understand the discussion. These terms concern 1) the stoneware itself in terms of glaze (surface finish) and 2) ware (clay body), and the 3) vessel forms made. Next, I will define the terms used in connection with 4) pottery shops. In addition to many old or current art texts, there are several good discussions of these materials and processes in ethnohistorical studies of potting (for instance Zug 1986, Sweeny 1984), and anyone interested in finding out more should look at some them. In archaeological studies, stonewares are generally characterized first by surface finishes, and secondarily by clay-body characteristics. There are five main surface finishes, beside plain (unglazed). These are 1) alkaline (also ash or fedspathic) glaze, 2) Albany (also Michigan or clay) slip, 3) Bristol (white or chemical slip), 4) salt glaze, and 5) ferruginous (iron oxide) washes. The nature of each is briefly summarized below.
Alkaline glazes, the American version of which originated in upland South Carolina ca. 1820, are made of varying mixtures of wood ash, sand, lime, flint, feldspar and clay. These are true glazes into which the dry vessel is dipped before firing. The alkaline glazes were first used in early medieval China, on stonewares made in regions that also produced porcelain, which also requires feldspar. The history of the Landrum family, who apparently originated the technique without European precedent, has been explored in detail in South Carolina, based on the work of Georgeana Greer of Texas (Greer 1971, Holcombe and Holcombe 1986, 1989; South 1991, Joseph 1993). It is thought that the well-educated Landrum family may have had access to a description of the Chinese porcelain industry written by a Jesuit scholar-missionary that was then current in England, where attempts were being made to imitate Chinese porcelain.
Salt glazing, adopted by the English from the late medieval German stoneware tradition that included the decorative incised and cobalt-blue painted Westerwald stoneware, is often characterized as most common in the Northern U.S., but it was also made by many of the Southern potters, as well as being exported by water and rail from the centers of large-scale manufacture in the Ohio Valley. The glazing process results from throwing or shoveling salt into the kiln late in the firing process, resulting in the vaporization of the salt (NaCl) into chorine, released as air-born acid, and the bonding of the sodium with any exposed vitrifying clay (silica) surface. This release of airborne hydrochloric acid obviously had a detrimental affect on the forests and other things existing in the European districts with large concentrations of salt-glazing kilns, but it does not seem to have been a significant or widespread problem for the smaller, and shorter-term American industries. Salt glazes are generally clear, and take on the color of the clay body under them, most often grey or brown. However, salt glazes are highly variable in color, with green, blue, and yellow colors possible, based on the impurities in the salt. While it remained rare in the South, small amounts of ground cobalt ore ("smalt") were used as a thin paste to be painted on vessels, in decoration, as indications of capacity, or, rarely, indicating the maker and date and place of manufacture. The dark blue cobalt glaze was the only commonly available mineral color that would withstand the high temperatures of stoneware or porcelain firing, and it gave an aesthetically appealing touch to blueish or greyish salt glazed stoneware. Kilns used for salt glazing acquire the distinctive glaze on their interiors as well.
Both alkaline and salt glazes seem to have passed out of general use around 1880-1900 with easy rail access to brown slip clays. Dark brown slip clays were first mined near Albany, New York, although the related glacial deposits of Michigan and other Upper Midwest states were also exported at a slightly later date. In the North, Albany clay slips were in use in the early 19th century, but their introduction to Mississippi was not until after the full development of the rail freight system. However, many Southern potteries experimented with local iron-rich silty clays as an alternative to imported slip clays. The colors possible for this type of slip vary from dark tan to mahogany to almost black. In many case, Albany slip was often used in combination with other slips. It was often applied to the inside, and sometimes exterior, of vessels that would also be salt glazed, or have white slips applied to the exterior.
A slip made of white, cream, and light gray clays fluxed with zinc oxide was invented by a chemist in Bristol, England ca. 1884; by 1920 it appears to have largely replaced all other stoneware surface treatments. This trend is often attributed to the social progress movements for sanitary wares, however, the use of white slips allowed colors (cobalt blue, and later other colors such as newly-developed high-firing red and green) to be used as stenciled, banded, splattered, or sponged decoration. These vessels were both more attractive from a marketing standpoint, as well as allowing the manufacturer or marketer to advertise in a more prominent way. Vessels from 1885-1920 often have a combination of Bristol and Albany slips, with white exteriors and brown interiors, or brown upper portions and white bodies being most common. Cobalt has long been used as a decorative device; while it occurred in rare hand-painted forms on salt-glazed vessels, it became more common as stencils on white vessels.
Finally, some stonewares, especially the commercial bottles used for beer, wine, and ink, have a semi-transparent tan or brown glaze made of fine sands with iron. These ferruginous glazes are also sometimes combined with other slips.
Locally made or domestic stoneware often has a reddish, brown, or buff/tan body, sometimes sandy. Gray-bodied stonewares, particularly those with evidence of machine-assisted manufacture, are often characterized by archaeologists as exported from large Ohio Valley potteries. However, many of the Southern potters also produced high-fired, fully-reduced grey, salt glazed wares. True stoneware has a vitreous body, that is, the clay particles are fused together so that the ware is impervious to water. Many materials classified as stoneware are in fact technically coarse earthenwares because they are not fully vitrified. Actually, the products of any potter or even any single kiln firing may grade from soft, permeable coarse earthenware to hard, glassy stoneware. However, the traditional products of the lead-glazed redware potteries are distinct from those who were attempting, with varying degrees of success to make true stoneware, and the pure ground baked lead and glass frit (burned, ground glass) glazes were never used for high-fired wares, as it would burn away. In general, wares with reddish colors indicate that the kiln allowed oxidation, and that the vitrification was incomplete, while darker brown or grey colors indicate reduction at high temperatures, often with vitrification. The ware achievable varies with each clay source, and many potters mixed clays in an attempt to achieve a better ware. Some clays will melt, spall, or bubble ("bloat") before they reach the vitrification point. Glazes were a primary means of covering the defect of incomplete vitrification, as the ash, lime or clay slips could be counted on to vitrify and thus form an impermeable coating over a vessel to be used to hold liquids.
There are a number of terms related to the manufacture of stoneware that must be understood to appreciate the structure of kilns and workshops. These terms should be of use to anyone who attempts to investigate pottery locations on the ground. Every pottery should have these minimal necessary features. Much or most of the equipment needed was homemade, so we should not expect absolute redundancy in what is to be found. In the 19th century, most equipment was made of wood, with industrialization, metal equipment became more common. Pits are the locations clay was dug; they are generally fairly close to the pottery, but seldom on the same site. They may be several miles away, and in a few cases the clay was imported from even further away. Clay was generally transported by wagon, but occasionally by rail. The location of a kiln by a railroad indicates the potential for a wide distribution network. Before it could be made into vessels ("thrown" or "turned"), clay was prepared. Minimally, this consisted of wetting or soaking in a bin or pit at the shop. Some modernized operations prepared the clay either by drying and grinding, or by wetting to a slurry in a blunger and screening the thin paste to remove pebbles and impurities such as concretions, which will spot the finished product. Most potteries instead used a pug mill or horse- or motor-turned mixing tank, with a central shaft with perpendicular vanes to cut and turn the clay. This same pug mill was needed for large-scale brick manufacture, and many stoneware potteries made brick as well, sometimes only for the construction of their own kilns and homes, but often for sale on a small commercial scale. After soaking, the clay was taken up in balls and blocked or wedged by slamming it against a stump or heavy plank. This removed bubbles and ensured the clay was homogeneous and compact.
The potters wheel was traditionally a kick wheel, but in the 20th century many power sources, such as old automobile or tractor engines, have been used. Driven wheels, powered by coal-fired steam, were one of the first means the industries of the Ohio Valley gained a significant advantage. In the steam powered plants, other mechanized means became available. These are jiggering and jollying. A jigger is a mold with a hand-pressed lathe that assists in hand-building a vessel, while a jolly is fully mechanized and forms a fully machine-made product with distinct mold marks. Most traditional Southern potters never had the capital investment to take advantage of these methods and continued to produce only hand-thrown ware, but there are exceptions. Many potters measured the clay needed to form the particular vessels in their repertoire by weight. They further achieved a degree of standardization through simple wooded tools for gauging height and diameter, and by using small carved wooden "ribs" held in the hand against the turning clay to form rims and churn shelves. The finished or green vessel is taken up from the wheel by cutting under it with a piece of wire held in both hands. This leaves a distinctive cut mark in the base.
The pots are then taken on boards to dry. In the larger steam plants, this was done in steam-heated rooms, otherwise it was done outdoors at small plants or in closed drying sheds at larger factories. After drying, any slip to be used was added to the vessel. The ground, powdered slip was mixed in a tub or tank to a thin slurry and the dry vessel was dipped into this mixture and rolled so that it was coated. The lip and base were them wiped clean, so that they would not stick during firing and the vessel was allowed to dry again. When suffiecenet ware to fill a kiln had been turned, the firing began
There are two basic forms of traditional kiln, the groundhog or tunnel kiln and the beehive or updraft kiln. The groundhog kiln is strongly associated with the Southern stoneware potter, while the beehive kiln, while it has a long history in Europe and the North, seems to have been built in our area only after about 1880-1890. Groundhog kilns are narrow, low brick structures, generally elongated rectangles, with a firebox at one end and a chimney at the other, and is covered by a shallow brick arch. They are built of brick, generally mortared with mud. The mud often has fine sand or salt added so that it will fuse with the brick and form a solid, tight structure. These kilns are either in trenches dug into hillsides, or have earth from the trench banked around them. Beehive kilns are aboveground, and are tall, circular brick structures, often reinforced with iron plates or bands. They have fireboxes in a radial pattern at the base and the chimney rises from the top of the dome. Kiln floors are sand, so that ware will not stick. When the kiln is loaded with green ware, wads or bars of raw clay (spacers) are placed between the pieces so that they will not stick and so that heat and salt fumes, if salt is used, can circulate freely. These spacers are sometimes biscuit or tabular in shape, other times they are crude balls or barbells. They generally show hand-prints, but are sometimes cut from slabs of clay with wires or knives. A special form of kiln furniture is the saggar, a crude, perforated dish used to contain and protect small and delicate items such as cups and plates. Other specially made kiln furniture may include racks and shelves. When the kiln is loaded, the entrance is bricked and daubed up, leaving small holes that can be opened to observe the ware or insert test tiles or salt. The firing begins with a low fire to slowly heat the ware, and then more wood or coal is added and a red heat is maintained for roughly 12 to 24 hours, depending on the size of the kiln and the conditions each clay requires for maturing. The ware begins to glow, and it is at this point that the clay fuses into a true stoneware, and the glaze becomes vitrified.
After cooling, the material blocking the entrance is torn down, and the completed product is removed. Very little ash or charcoal remains. Any cracked, warped, or exploded items, along with sealing daub, broken bricks and unneeded kiln furniture, are thrown onto a waster dump near the kiln, and the remainder of the ware is ready for market. Most shops kept some ware on hand in the shop or yard for occasional sales to people calling at the kiln. In some areas and at some times, the ware has been sold directly from the kiln, still warm, to the waiting local people, to merchants, or to traveling "jobbers" who gathered the products of several small kilns to make up larger loads for long-distance exchange. Some potters had a family member who handled the marketing from a wagon or truck driving a circuit and stopping at small stores and even individual family farms. This might take weeks and the return was not always good. In these cases, packing might consist only of grass, hay, or pinestraw. Larger operations exporting by railroads crated or barreled their wares, and so metal bands and packing crate nails are to be expected in these places.
Makers' marks are rather uncommon on stoneware. The commonest form consists of a small stamp, often on the vessel shoulder, giving the name and sometimes location of the manufacturer. More rarely, the maker's name will be either incised, or at a later date, stenciled in cobalt over Bristol slip. Such marked vessels or sherds are particularly important for developing characterizations of each pottery's wares. More common are capacity indications, either incised numerals; dots, slashes, or "x"s; or stamps, most often having the number enclosed in a dotted circle or square.
A final matter to be considered is vessel form. Archaeologist typically use our native English terms for stoneware "crockery." However, many of these vessel forms have gone out of common use. The commonest forms that have been made are crocks or large storage jars, jugs and butter churns. Many potters produced reed-stem pipe bowls, but these small mold-made products could also sometimes be made in the fireplace or stove by people who were otherwise not involved in potting. Other forms that may have been important at particular potteries are pitchers; small canning jars; urns, jardinieres, flower pots and other garden ware (often unglazed); and sewer pipe. Rare, but perhaps locally important, forms include chamber pots, spittoons, water coolers/filters, chicken fountains, casserole dishes and bean-pots, and charcoal stoves. Even washboards have been made of stoneware, and many potters made a few marbles for their children as well. Some potteries, particularly in the earlier part of the 19th century made vessels often seen in refined pastes for table use, such as cups, saucers, and plates. Presumably, these were for sale to the poor who could not afford whitewares and ironstones, probably including slaves and people of the "backwoods" who did not have ready access to stores. In a few areas where flat, smooth stone was not easily available, stoneware has been used for grave markers. Willett and Brackner (1983:19) note that a flat form of grave marker appeared in northwest Alabama and northeast Mississippi, around the Loyd family potteries around the time of the Civil War and continued in use through the 1880s. They also note that the more common stoneware urn grave marker, now mostly destroyed by lawnmowers or stolen for the antiquities trade was more common and widespread. The Wedgeworth family of Lauderdale County, to be discussed below, made some of this type of grave marker.
Environmental factors strongly influence where a pottery can be located: a large and steady supply of water and fuel (wood or coal) must be available, but these are to be had in most parts of the Midsouth. Clays of the proper composition are the prime determinant of the success of a pottery industry: a grade suitable for stonewares is needed, and refractory clays and sand are also needed during the manufacturing process. Most Mississippi kilns appear to have been made of brick, so brick is perhaps the first clay product of a kiln site. In some areas where it is available, shaped stone (limestone or durable sandstone) has been used in kiln construction, and it is to be expected that stone will be found to have been used for some northeast Mississippi kilns.
The Middle South, here taken as Alabama, Mississippi, west Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, and east Texas, has many clay sources, and the manufacture of brick and tile is widely diffused throughout the region. Clays are, however, highly variable in their properties, and while aboriginal coarse earthenwares, like brick, can be made of many local clays through manipulation of various tempering agents, stonewares seemingly have a narrower range of tolerance. Regional variation in clay body may be identifiable even if distinct manufacturing traditions are not identifiable. While this avenue of inquiry must await chemical assays, it forms a major avenue of future research.
As noted above, geologic studies are a primary source about early stoneware industries. The Bulletins of the Mississippi Geological Survey form the main basis for the descriptions of potteries described in this paper. Throughout the Midsouth, the Wilcox formation has been the primary source for stoneware clays, although in some upland regions there are other, minor beds of suitable clays. The strength of this association with the Wilcox formation can be shown through the mapping of historic pottery industry sites (Figure). One of these deposits of secondary importance is the Tuscaloosa formation, which outcrops in southeast Itawamba and northeast Monroe counties in northeast Mississippi. The Tuscaloosa formation here and in adjacent Marion County, Alabama, has been the basis for a tight concentration of traditional potters. The Pascagoula and Hattiesburg formations of the Gulf Coastal Plain have also supported potteries early in the history of the state, and clays similar to those used by the Mobile Bay potteries have been used by stoneware and artistic redware producers along the Gulf coast.
In extreme northeastern Mississippi and in adjacent parts of Alabama (Marion County), the clays of the Tuscaloosa formation have supported a pottery industry since the mid 19th century. These clays of this section are generally sandy, sometimes with fine pebbles. The products of these potteries should have a chemical signature, as well as macroscopic characteristics distinctive from the Wilcox clays used by most other Mississippi potteries. Goodspeed's (1891:105) history of Mississippi notes that the 1840 census showed Mississippi as having one pottery with two hands who made $1200 on $200 capitalization. Haskel and Smith's (1845) gazetteer provides the same statistics and notes that this pottery was in Monroe County. Monroe has since been divided, with the northwestern part being cut off as part of Lee County, and the southwestern part as Colfax (now Clay) County. However, given subsequent history, it seems likely that the early Monroe County potting industry was located in the northern part of the county, in the vicinity of the modern town of Smithville.
Monroe County had several potteries in the early and mid 20th century. Vestal and McCutcheon (1943:114) describe the clay from the floor and bank of Bull Mountain Creek on the Dyer property, long used by the Suggs pottery, as having a reputation as being some of Mississippi's best stoneware clay. However, it had fine sand and some pebbles and after its use was discontinued because of the pebbles, the Suggs pottery had turned to clay hauled from Alabama (Vestal and McCutcheon 1943:122). This pottery was in the vicinity of the Smithville-Trenton road. The Suggs operation in 1943 was a small but well-equipped pottery with a brick clay bin or pit, pugmill, motor-powered throwing wheel, and kiln with a capacity of a few hundred gallons. The ware was sold locally through peddling. Zug (1986:445) notes a Sugg family of potters in Randolph County, North Carolina in the late 19th century.
The Smithville Pottery, discontinued several years prior to 1943, used a 5' thick layer of sandy, iron-stained clay dug at Johnson Hill, but the potters became dissatisfied with it as the sand made it too porous and kept the glaze from adhering properly (Vestal and McCutcheon 1943:115). Conversely, Vestal and Knollton (1947:84) note that the Smithville pottery had tried an Itawamba County clay from the Panther Valley Creek-Chubby Creek area and found that it made a good ware, but did not continue its use as it lacked sand. The Smithville Pottery Co. also made stoneware of other local clays, including from a high-quality clay exposed in a railroad cut (Vestal and McCutcheon 1943:114). The Smithville pottery was run by Mills & Son, with the father being the main turner and using a kick wheel. They used a mule-powered pugmill, kneaded by hand, and cut the kneaded balls into lumps the appropriate size for the vessels to be thrown. The ware was dried on shelves and burned in a wood-fired kiln built of brick. The forms produced were churns, jugs, jars, and flower pots. These wares were sold at the plant and by peddling, and "perhaps some little was shipped (Vestal and McCutcheon 1943:123)." They note that the Mills operation was well-known in northeast Mississippi, and that the Smithville pottery had used many different clays.
Willet and Brackner (1983:39) also note a Billy Rye, from an Alabama potting family, who settled near Smithville, which is in northern Monroe County. However, his operation may have actually been in the Itawamba County potteries area. They note that Rye was originally from Tennessee, before moving to Marion County, Alabama, prior to the Civil War and that he used ash (alkaline) glazes, sometimes mixed with Albany slips. The Itawamba County cemeteries study notes only two Ryes, William H. Rye (1888-1970) and Ola E. Rye (1900-1934), who are buried at Hopewell Cemetery about 7 miles north of Smithville (Burton-Cruber 1978:119), which would place it in the potteries district. This William H. Rye is perhaps a son of the Billy Rye who was a potter. Given the connection with and proximity to Alabama, the potter may have been buried in Alabama.
There are numerous exposures of the Tuscaloosa formation in the southeast corner of Itawamba County that have been used for stoneware manufacture. In 1909, the county was without a railroad, so the three small hand potteries active around that time had a "very local trade (Logan 1909:123)." Vestal (1947) revisited Itawamba County for a more thorough geological survey during the Depression and found a number of small jug factories in operation, all confined to the southeasternmost township. This small concentration of traditional potteries used various sandy and silty local clays that were not as intensively studied as the Wilcox formation clays, as they did not appear to have the economic potential of the state's main clay bodies. General assays were published as part of the 1909 survey and the 1947 survey noted many clay outcrops worked by "the pottery men" without attributing all of them to specific potters (Vestal and Knollman 1947:81).
The W.A. Summerford farm and pottery was 4 miles south of Whitney. Their clay pit, "a few rods from the pottery" produced clay that was white or yellowish with streaks of blue which burned light pink or yellowish gray at cone 17 and 20. The body was yellow and steel hard by cone 9. The clay took artificial (i.e. Bristol) and slip (Albany) glazes well. The 6' exposure had been by 1909 used for "a number of years" to make about 5000 gallons of jugs, jars, crocks, and churns. The raw clay was mixed and put in open log bins to weather, and then crushed in a vertical jug mill. The Summerford operation used a kick wheel and had a kiln of 500 gallons capacity, indicating about 10 burnings a year (Logan 1909:124-125). Willett and Brackner (1983:40) note that D.E. Summerford, located near the Mississippi Alabama state line near Bexar, Alabama, made cobalt-decorated, Bristol slipped stoneware throughout the Depression and until sometime around or after World War II, and that his wares were exported by rail.
James Davidson's pottery at Whitney had not been in operation for some years when Logan (1909:125) made his survey. It had produced a general line of stoneware and tombstones "about 3 or 4 feet long, 2 feet wide and lettered in relief". The outcrop was a 6' bed along the road near Whitney with mottled red and pink clay which appeared cream when powdered. They had used a horse-powered pug mill to mix the clay. The ware was thrown on a kick wheel, slipped with Albany clay, and burned in two 650 gallon kilns. At cone 12 the clay was hard and cream colored; at cone 20 it was vitrified and reddish yellow. It took the brown slip and artificial glaze well. Some Davidson Brothers are mentioned by Willett and Brackner (1983:40) as operating in the Marion and Lamar counties, Alabama potting area, in the late 19th-early 20th century era, and there was a George Davidson potting in North Carolina as early as 1794 (Zug 1984:438). The Itawamba County cemeteries (Burton-Cruber 1978) study shows a number of Davidsons, most of whom are buried in the western parts of Itawamba County that are near or in what later became Lee County.
In 1909, the E.P. Kennedy pit and pottery were 3 miles south of Whitney. The 4 to 5' outcrop of mottled white clay lay along the public road. The factory produced 7000 to 8000 gallons of churns, jars, and jugs per year. Two turners worked at the plant and the single kiln took about 12 hours to burn. At cone 20, the clay was dark gray and nonporous (Logan 1909:126). Among the many members of the Kennedy family buried at the Kennedy Chaple Cemetery in the potteries area are M.J., wife of E.P. Kennedy (1852-1921) and Edmon T. Kennedy (1849-1894). The earliest marked Kennedy interments here are Kennedy Maxfield (1784-1856), Samuel D. Kennedy (1808-1881), and Bernettie, wife of S.D. Kennedy (1814-1895).
In North Carolina, there have been numerous Kennedy potters, and so some connection should be sought between the Itawamba County potters and those of the East. Zug (1986:441) lists Julius A. Kennedy of Cleveland or Catawba County, North Carolina, who used the stamp "JAK;" his sons Bulo Jackson Kennedy (1869-1964) and David Kennedy of Catawba and Wilkes counties, and three sons of Bulo, Claude L.(1897-1972), George D. (b. ca, 1898), and Ray A.(b. 1909) who were potters. These potters, originally from the Catawba River valley hauled ware into the sparsely populated, mountainous Wilkes County, a center of illegal whiskey distilling, until they discovered a deposit of stoneware clay there and settled to build a shop that from 1895 until 1868 was known as the Kennedy Pottery (Zug 1986:63). They originally worked with salt glaze, and made largely jugs for the whiskey trade, however earlier pieces stamped "JAK" are alkaline glazed. Dave did not stay in the area, but Bulo and his sons successfully made the transition from a focus on jugs and utilitarian items to producing garden ware and items for the tourist trade (Zug 1986:65).
In 1909, John Plunkett had a small hand pottery about 1 ½ miles west of the Alabama state line on the Bexar road. He had operated it for 6 or 7 years, producing about 2000 gallons per year. Logan (1909:129) obtained no clay sample, but reported that the clay was said to be very similar to Kennedy's and others in the region. This is probably the same Plunket & Sallis firm he mentioned in Itawamba County in his 1907 report. Geologic survey maps of Itawamba County show a Sallis Mill in the potteries area. Many members of the Kennedy, Sallis, and Plunkett families are buried at the Kennedy Chapel Cemetery in the potteries area (Burton-Cruber 1978). These include Swepter Z. Plunkett (1870-1921) and Jim H. Plunket (b.? 1886).
Apparently somewhat earlier than these potteries was that of W.M. Cheney. Logan (1909:129) notes that a 12' thick bed of plastic blue clay from a small draw on the Palmer farm 4 miles south of Fulton was used "many years ago" by Cheney. Vestal and Knollman (1947:77) attempted to re-locate the 12' thick clay bed used by this operation, and note that a 1935 reconnaissance identified an outcrop of red and grey mottled clay in the valley of Reeds Creek, which was assayed.
The 1947 survey also mentions the J.B. Young pottery as using clay from the Tremont-Academy roadcut (Vestal and Knollman 1947:81).
A final Itawamba County potting family is the Loyd family, who moved from Lincoln County, Tennessee to Marion County, Alabama, before spreading into Mississippi (Willett and Brackner 1983:19, 38). William P. and W.D. Loyd settled near Tremont, and it was this part of the Loyd potting family that patented the 1879 stoneware grave marker. They sold the rights to its manufacture to other potters as well. Their own were salt glazed with some cobalt decoration (generally a leafy branch at the top of the slab). The earliest known example is on the grave of Stephen C. Loyd, buried in 1868 in Marion County, Alabama (Willett and Brackner 1983:19). This would indicate that other Loyd wares from Itawamba County would be salt glazed, perhaps with cobalt blue decoration.
Rufus Ward of Columbus, Mississippi, has informed me of a "Peppertown Pottery," also in Itawamba County (personal communication 25 June 1998), this may well be synonymous with some of the known family potteries.
It is clear from a number of sources, including the federal censuses, that the stoneware manufacturers of Marshall County were some of the largest and most successful to have operated in Mississippi. Lying at the junction of the Illinois Central and the Kansas City, Memphis & Birmingham, Holly Springs was ideally suited for mass marketing, including the goods of a large stoneware industry utilizing the abundant local Wilcox clays (Logan 1909:138).
In the 1870 U.S. Census Industrial Schedule, Holly Springs, Marshall County, had two potteries. Smith & Bros. Pottery had a $600 capitalization, operated 12 months, and produced $1800 worth of goods using 125 cords of wood at a cost of $500. In the 1880 census, these companies are again the only two concerns reported for the state. P.O. Smythe & Co. in east Holly Springs, stoneware and earthenware manufacturers, had a capital investment of $1900 (or $1000?), employed 10 hands, all males over 16, operated on 10 hour days year-round, and paid skilled labor $3 a day and ordinary labor $.75 a day, for a total labor expenditure of $1800 in 1879. The value of materials on hand was $770 and the value of the annual production, $4500.
Two forms of the Smyth stamp are to be seen on stoneware vessels displayed at the Marshall County Historical Museum. The first, on a brown slipped jug that may also be lightly salted is a rectangular stamp with "S SMYTH & BRO HOLLY SPRINGS MISS." The S. Smyth portion of the legend is placed on a curving scroll. The second, with three examples, all small, brown hand-thrown crocks or canning jars has an irregular stamp reading "PAT. J. SMYTH, MANFR/ HOLLY SPRINGS MISS." The three museum specimens have rounded lips. The author has a fourth example of this stamp, on a medium-sized jar that has a brown exterior, perhaps lightly salt glazed, and a blackish interior Albany slip. The jar is hand turned, with sparse iron concretions and a reddish body. The rim is squared, perhaps by a rib. Numerous unmarked examples at the Marshall County Historical Museum have similar squared lips on jugs and small jars. This same square lip is shown on brown-top jugs at the Holly Springs Stoneware and Fire Brick company (Lowe 1915:Fig 11).
The 1870 census shows Mary Smyth and hers sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren as House 17 in the Range 2 enumeration district:
Mary Smyth, age 72, born in Ireland Samuel Smyth, age 36, born in Ireland, potter Ellen Smyth, age 23, born in New Brunswick, housekeeper James Smyth, age 10 months, born in Mississippi Patrick J. Smyth, age 33, born in Ireland, potter Martha J. Smyth, age 30, born in Illinois, housekeeper James Smyth, age 8, born in Illinois Andrew Smyth, age 6, born in Illinois Samuel Smyth, age 4, born in Missouri Patrick H. Smyth, age 2, born in Missouri
In 1870, Samuel Smith had $600 of real property and $165 of personal property. From this census it appears that the Smyths had arrived in Holly Springs between 2 years and 10 months prior to June, 1870. This seems to be confirmed by the graves at Hillcrest Cemetery of James Smyth (1790-1869) and Mary Smyth (1798-1874), "both of County Fermanagh, Ireland" (Marshall County Cemeteries Index:21). In 1880, after the death of their mother, Samuel and Patrick had separate households. P.J. Smyth was in House 8, East Holly Springs District 1, and Sam Smyth was in House 12. The intervening Houses 10 and 11 were occupied by the families of black laborers. P. Smyth had a white apprentice and Sam Smyth had a white servant. In addition, 18-year old Robert Smyth, a clerk in a store, was a boarder with a lawyer (House 7). Their listings for 1880 are:
P.J. Smyth, age 43, potter, born in Ireland M.J., 40, keeping house, Illinois J.P., [James] son, 18, potter, Illinois A.J., [Andrew] son, 16, potter, Illinois S.J., son, age13, farm laborer, Missouri P.H., son, 11, farm laborer, Missouri G.W., son, 5, Mississippi M.E., daughter, 2, Mississippi John W. Kettson, 17, boarder and apprentice potter, Mississippi
Sam Smyth, 44, potter, Ireland Ellen, 33, Keeping house, New Brunswick Jesse? J., 10, son, Mississippi Thomas, 7, son, Mississippi Sam, 6, son, Mississippi John, 4, son, Mississippi F.W. son, 2, Mississippi Rachel Perry, 55, boarder and keeping house, Alabama
In 1900, Pat J. Smith, born in Ireland in 1835 and immigrated in 1855, but not a naturalized citizen, is listed as a farmer, living with his daughter Mary E, age 22. Patrick Smyth's wife, Marta J. Smyth, had died in 1887 (Marshall County Cemeteries Index:41). Given that two young sons are listed as farm laborers in 1880, he may have purchased land by that time with the intention of becoming a farmer rather than mechanic or laborer. This was a dream few 19th century Irish immigrants fulfilled.
The 1870 census also lists a second potter, H.W. Steinbiss, who had $1000 invested, employed 2 males over 16, ran 12 months, and produced $3000 worth of stoneware. The following census figures will show that there were more potters than can be accounted for in these two men employed in 1870. The only material listed as on-hand was wood (fuel). Still in east Holly Springs in 1880, the H.W. Steinbiss & Co. stoneware manufacturers had a $3500 capitalization, employed 18 hands in a year-round, 10 hours a day operation. Skilled labor was paid $5 a day and common, $.75, with total annual wages $7000. Materials on hand were worth $2040 and the annual production was worth $15,000. This pottery was larger than that operated by the Irish family, with more capital and more workers, many of whom were Germans. This also appears to have been the basis of the later Holly Springs Stoneware Company.
The 1870 census shows a number of German potters in Houses 26 and 27 in Ward 5 of Holly Springs, and an additional potter, also German, in House 38 of Ward 1. Steinbiss does not figure in this group, and the wife of one Martin Knable is show as having $10,000 in real property, apparently indicating that the Knables were the main owners of the larger Holly Springs factory at this time. The Joseph Herr listed below is believed to be a brother of the Albert Herr who later became a prominent stoneware manufacturer. Lois Suwanee, Marshall County Historical Museum (personal communication, 1 November 2001) states that there is a local tradition that Albert Herr was descended from the nobility of some German state, and that he emigrated to America and adopted the name Herr as he was a younger son with few prospects of inheritance. She also believes that he burned family papers concerning this lineage on his deathbed, as he wanted his sons to consider themselves only as Americans. He became an alderman of Holly Springs in 1897-1897 and later mayor. The 1870 potting families are:
Joseph Herr, 26, potter, Baden Rosa Herr, 17, keeping house, Germany Frank Dicknn/Vicker?, 43, potter, Hanover Augustus Strocher?, 44, potter, Prussia Charley Barnes/Bauer?, 19, laborer, Wirtemburg (all resident with the family of John Creshet?, a horsedealer from Missouri)
Martin Knabel, 50, potter, Baden Genevieve, 42, keeping house, Baden Caroline, 15, Baden Lena, 12, Louisiana Mary, 9, Mississippi Joseph, 4, Mississippi Lanna, 1, Mississippi
Anton Schoob, 39, potter, Hesse Catherine, 39, Hesse Catherine, 4, Tennessee Eliza Clayton, 35, black servant, Tennessee
Steinbiss appears in the 1880 population census as a manufacturer of stoneware living in House 4. He had a number of other potters in his household, and others resided elsewhere in the city. However, not all of the 18 employees can be accounted for in a cursory reading of the 1880 population schedules; some may be listed only as "laborers." By this time the remaining German potting families had intermarried as the following shows:
H.W. Steinbiss, 26, stoneware manufacturer, Prussia Mary, 19, keeping house, born in Mississippi to parents from Baden Willie Herr, 9, nephew and student, Mississippi Eddie Herr, 5, nephew and student, Mississippi H.H. Glover, 25, boarder and potter, Ontario J.S. Brongs?, 28, boarder and potter, Ohio S. Chochran, 64, black day laborer, South Carolina G.J. Hill, 31, farmer?, Mississippi M.J. Hill, 28, keeping house, Mississippi
Albert Herr, 22, potter Magdeline Herr, 22, keeping house Louise Knable, 11, sister-in-law and student (apparent duplication) Albert Hess, 23, potter Lena, 21, wife, keeping house Lausan Knable, 13, sister-in-law, at school
James Bell, 60, carpenter Cornelia V. Bell, 49, wife, keeping house Charley Ketson, 17, stepson, potter-perhaps a duplicate of the 1880 Smyth boarder/apprentice? Bell Ketson, stepdaughter, at school Morris bell, 4, son
The 1900 census also shows Albert Herr as a manufacturer of stoneware (House 417). A number of other people scattered throughout Holly Springs worked at this or some other pottery, but they do not form an obvious spatial or ethnic concentration, except that all were white. The operation was successful enough that the operator and manager could sent their children to school. Unlike the Smyths, none of the children worked in the pottery.
Albert Herr, born 1859 in Germany, manufacturer of stoneware Lina, born Louisiana of German parents Joe, son, born 1880, salesman in jewelry store Birdie, daughter born 1882, at school May, daughter, born 1883, at school Leo, son, born 1886, at school Eva, daughter, born 1890, at girls' boarding school in Holly Springs Robert, son, born 1894
Joshua Leach, born 1842 in Tennessee, manager of pottery Sellie, wife, born 1870 Mary, daughter, born 1879 Codelia, daughter, born 1880 Ruth, daughter, born 1886, at school Maggie, daughter, born 1890, at school Pauline, daughter, born 1892, at school Broyles Littleton, stepson, born 1892, at school Amanda Murphy, black cook, born 1840
Tom Schwab, born 1887 in Mississippi (age 13), laborer at pottery (living with mother) Henry Littleton/Littlejohn, born 1870 in Alabama, laborer at pottery Charles Evans, born 1881, fireman/foreman? at pottery (living with mother and siblings) Bart/Brit Moore, born 1879, laborer at pottery (living with mother)
The Herr family remained in Holly Springs and various members of the Family are buried at Hillcrest Cemetery (Marshall County Cemeteries Index:21). These include Albert Herr (1859-1934) and Magdalene Victoria (1857-1912), wife of Albert Herr, and their children Mai Genevieve (1883-1943), Leo (1885-1940), and Robert C. (1896-1970).
Around 1909-1915, the Holly Springs Stoneware Co. produced a general line of stoneware, including jugs, jars, crocks, churns, pitchers, bowls, and flower pots (Logan 1909, Lowe 1915). The clay was mixed in a chaser or wet pan. The turning and molding machinery was run by steam which was also used in the drying room. In 1915 Lowe (1915:137) noted that this was the state's only active steam pottery. The ware was fired in two coal-fired circular down-draught "beehive" kilns with an annual capacity of 500,000 gallons. At cone 17 the material used was light yellow, hard, and slightly porous while at cone 19 it was light blue and vitrified. The products were described as "very attractive…with a white body and brown rim" made with a chemical glaze combining a light feldspar and whiting glaze with an Albany slipped portion. The Holly Springs Stoneware Co. had discontinued using a pit on the old Hern farm 1 ½ miles west of Holly Springs by 1909 (Logan 1909:142). The Hern pit showed 4-5' of white clay with yellow and pink streaks overlain by red Lafayette sand. Their new pit, 1 ¼ miles east of Holly Springs, was in a 8' thick bed of laminated, fossil leaf-bearing white or cream clay overlain by Lafayette sand.
In the WPA file (Record Group 60, Series 447) for Marshall County, the stoneware industry was mentioned only in passing. The 1845 business inventory makes no mention of a stoneware pottery, but one account says "the manufacture of clay products has been a stable industry for many years. The Holly Springs Stoneware Co. has been in operation since ante-bellum days." The validity of this statement is doubtful based on current knowledge, however as an early economic center, it is possible. Ramsay (1947:239) states that unmarked stoneware was made in Marshall, Mississippi (presumably Marshall County) around 1845. In 1870 (or, in a variant, 1877), the Mississippi Press association met in Holly Springs and toured "the Jug factories" or in the 1877 version, listed "the Jug Factory" in their resolution of thanks. By 1936, it is said that "the Jug Factory or by the more dignified term the Holly Springs Stoneware Co., is one of the few leftovers of other days. It owes its continued existence to the enterprise of its stockholders, J.E. Anderson and others. The late Albert Herr, part owner and master potter, was the key man of the institution until his death. Its products are now promoted by Anderson and McCrosky (Garden Club 1936)." The Anderson and McCroskey families have a long history in Holly Springs as merchants, but neither appears to have been directly involved in potting. They appear in a 1936 advertisement to the above-cited county history as a staples and groceries firm.
The Allison Stoneware Co. was the other large factory in Holly Springs ca. 1909-1915. Their pit was a few rods north of the Holly Springs Co.'s pit in a 12' thick bed of laminated cream clay under 4' of red Lafayette sand. The raw clay was pugged in a steel vertical mill and thrown on two wheels. The plant had recently been moved and enlarged to have two circular kilns and a brick drying oven (Logan 1909:147). Based on a plate in the 1907 geological survey bulletin, the wares were hand thrown and Albany slipped (Figures -----).
At the same date (1930s), there was a small art pottery "outside the city limits on Highway 78…to Memphis." This is probably the Waldo Davis unglazed art pottery mentioned in the University of Mississippi clippings file.
In Benton County, two generations of the Conners family produced pottery near Ashland. Their kiln can still be seen on the north side of Highway 72. Sweezy (1984:131) describes a 20th century pottery near Ashland begun by Charles Tipton Conner (1878-1954) and continued after World War II by his sons Howard Conner (born 1923) and Alfred Conner. The elder Conner was originally from St. Louis, but left home at 17 to become a potter at Holly Springs in the Anderson pottery. However, he soon left Mississippi and after working at many potteries in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Oregon, settled in Texas, where he helped build the first large beehive kilns at Marshall Pottery. He stayed there 10 years, managing the pottery for S.H. Ellis, and it was there that Howard Conner was born and first began to throw. He began his serious instruction at age 12 (ca. 1935), turning candlesticks. In 1940, the family moved to Benton County, Mississippi, where the father and sons Howard and Alfred began a pottery. The son's military service forced Charles Conner to discontinue the operation until they returned in 1946. Howard recalled that he "wouldn't let me rest when I come in. he had a little old raggedy building out there and kept saying, "let's go back down there." I did and been in it ever since…He told us, "Don't get big, stay small. I've been both places big and small. Your best way is to stay small." He died in 1954, and me and my brother got a taste of getting bigger (Sweezy 1984:131)."
At one time the Conner pottery had 35 workers making jiggered, cast and turned ware. After 1948, the produced mainly unglazed garden ware, and in 1960 began to make jiggered charcoal burners, but they continued to make some glazed stoneware until 1965 (Sweezy 1984:132). They used a home-made screening ball mill to process local clay and a slip pump to apply glaze to interiors. They have used both brown and white and combined brown and white glazes. The brown glaze was common Albany or Michigan slip, while the white (Bristol-type) glaze was made of feldspar, Spanish whiting, white lead, and ball clay (Seweezy 1984:132).
In 1959, they built a second large, 18-foot diameter, iron banded beehive kiln on the Marshall pottery model. Howard Conner noted that they built the kiln walls three feet thick, thinking to save fuel, but found that actually, thicker walls consumed more fuel. The 82-hour burn required 9 tons of soft Alabama coal and a five day cooling period. The kiln had six fireboxes, and consumed the coal almost completely, with very little ash being left. Fire-clay shelves, replacing the space-consuming traditional saggar, were used for stacking the smaller, glazed ware. The main pottery shop burned in 1965, and despite being rebuilt the next year, the Conners operation gradually quit making traditional stoneware, although he was still producing a few pieces of Albany-glazed ware on an electric wheel and firing in an electric kiln. The brick beehive kiln was only used a few times after 1965. They continued to produce the charcoal bucket stove at the time of the Sweezy interview (Sweezy 1984:133). The operation exists today largely as a market for cast concrete garden wares, but the old kiln is still standing along U.S. Highway 72.
Logan (1907:176) notes that in the northwest part of Calhoun County, along the Pittsboro-Trusty-Water Valley road, there were outcrops of white Wilcox clay, and that they were used at one time in a small hand stoneware pottery on the Ersery plantation (Logan 1909:176). Following up on this indication of economically important stoneware clay in Calhoun County, Lusk (1961:62) notes that in the late 1880s B. F. Ussery operated a small hand pottery in northwestern Calhoun County where he made stoneware pitchers, jars, churns, jugs and crude tableware from the undifferentiated upper part of the Wilcox formation, where exposures of clay are generally silty or sandy, thin and infrequent. The "last" site of Ussery's pottery was believed to be on the north side of the old Branner to Water Valley Road near Union Grove Church. Lusk (1961:Figure 21) illustrates a jug and churn from the Ussery pottery, which were the property of W.R. Ussery of Bruce, Mississippi in 1960.
In researching Arkansas stoneware kilns, I found a mention of one Lafayette Glass who may also have been associated with the Ussery pottery. As a migrant throughout much of the south, Glass is a critical factor in the dissemination of the potting trade. Glass was born in Tennessee in 1830, by 1858 he was in Texas and in 1860 he was operating a pottery in Daingerfield, Texas, and by 1868 he was in Dallas County, Arkansas, where he was taxed for a horse, a mule, and 3 cattle. Before the Civil War, Glass bought, and may have learned to pot from, the French-trained slave Oliver Harris of new Orleans; Glass and the Freedman Harris continued to pot together after the war. The location of his ca. 1870s kiln has been reported as 3DA543. Later, he moved to Benton, Arkansas, and by 1880 was living in Yalobusha County, Mississippi with another potter, B.F. Ussery, where he died before 1890. His son W.A. Glass operated potteries in Benton, Bradley County; Sulphur Rock, and Independence County (Goodspeed 1890, Smith 1972, Smith and Rodgers 1979).
The B.F. Ussery noted in Yalobusha County in the Arkansas documents and the Ersery noted by Logan (1909) in Calhoun County may well be the same. Lusk (1961) points to the "last" Ussery pottery, so presumably he moved at least once, perhaps across the county line. Yalobusha and Calhoun are both antebellum counties, and are adjacent to each other. In addition, Willett and Brackner (1983:33) note that a Calvin J. Ussery, of Bacon Level, in the major Randolph County, Alabama alkaline glaze potting region, was an entrepreneur with a store and mill as well as a pottery, and that he achieved enough prominence through his education and commercial activities to be in and out of the state legislature between 1847 and 1876. They also mention a W.J. Ussery in Walker County, Alabama in 1850, and hypothesize that if he followed family tradition, he probably worked in the alkaline glaze tradition (Willett and Brackner 1983:39). Likewise, Zug (1986:66,445) notes a Murphey Usery who was a potter in Union County, North Carolina in 1860; this Usery probably potted with George W. Hance, originally of South Carolina, and may have learned the trade from him. Given the general Southern trend for potting to be an inherited trade, a connection between B. F. Ussery of Mississippi and W.J and Calvin Ussery of Alabama and/or Murphey Usery of North Carolina should be sought.
However, the Anthony W.P. Ussery who may have founded the local family was among the original land claimants in central Yalobusha County, in 1833 and 1834 (Morgan 1997:81, 88, 89, 103). He appears in surviving wills and probate records as a witness in a 1835-1836 will (Wiltshire 1997:2), indicating that he was an actual resident and that he remained some time in Yalobusha County. If there is a connection between the Alabama and Mississippi Ussery families, there may have been more than one generation of potters in the Yalobusha-Calhoun counties area. This Anthony Ussery claimed 3 80-acres tracts and a 40-acre tract in the Durden's Creek-Turkey Creek area. In 1850, an Usery family was living in Yalobusha County. Morgan (1991:199) notes census household 485 as consisting of:
Spencer Clyburn, age 60, born in South Carolina Eliza Clyburn, age 55, born in South Carolina William Usery, age 30, born in Tennessee Samantha (Clyburn) Usery, age 23, born in South Carolina John Usery, age 25, born in Tennessee Sarah Usery, age 19, born in South Carolina
Morgan (1991:56) notes that William Clayborn Usry (apparently a child of William and Samantha Usery) married Eliza Weaver and Spearman (1980) lists the following individuals who are buried in the Dividing Ridge Cemetery of Yalobusha County:
Eliza Weaver Usry (1862-1960) William H. Usry (1882-1872) William C. Usry (1860-1920) Zadie Howell Usry (1885-1916)
At this time (1850), there was already a Glass family in Yalobusha County as well, that of Dr. E.D. Glass, age 32, of Virginia. His wife and two older children were also from Virginia, the younger two children (ages 3 and 1) were born in Mississippi (Morgan 1991:414). There is as yet no indication of a connection with Lafayette Glass. By 1900, there were at least 3 black Glass families in the area, probably indicating that Dr. Glass was a slave-holder.
In 1860, Calhoun County had 15 blacksmiths, 4 steam saw mills, 2 cabinet makers, and 2 tanners. No potters are listed. The 1860 federal census lists a single Usery family for Calhoun County (Springer 1995:19). Holden Usery is listed as within the Slate Springs Post Office area; he had no slaves, paid no poll tax, and is not listed on the 1861 land tax rolls.
Holden Usery, age 56, farmer, personal property worth $200, real estate worth $200, born in North Carolina. Lucy Usery, 56, born North Carolina Margaret Usery, 21, born in Mississippi Green Usery, 17, born in Mississippi Lavina(?), 14, born in Mississippi
In the 1850 census, this family was listed in Lafayette County as household 1082. They may have remained in the same location, as county lines have been adjusted between Calhoun and Lafayette. According to the population schedule, Holder Ursary was 39 and illiterate. He stated his place of birth as North Carolina. Lucy was listed as 46, illiterate, and from North Carolina. Children are listed as John C., 18, student, born North Carolina; Martha, 14, born in Tennessee; Jemima, 13, student, born in Tennessee; Margaret, 11, student, born in Mississippi; Green, 7, student, born in Mississippi; Lavina, 4, born in Mississippi; and Julia A. Hill, 19, born in North Carolina (sister-in-law?).
In 1860, the Holden Ursery reported 25 acres improved and 35 acres unimproved for a total farm value of $200. They had $15 worth of implements, a horse and 5 swine, worth $110, and produced 2 bales of cotton, 200 bushels of corn, 5 bushels of beans and peas, and 25 pounds of butter (but note no cattle reported). The value of home manufactures was 427 and of animals slaughtered, $49 (Norman 2001:23).
(No checks yet for 1870, 1880)
The 1900 census for Calhoun County lists two families who may be related (Springer nd). Household 273 may be the widow of the potter:
Mary M. Ussery, widow and farmer, age 49, born 1850 in Mississippi, parents from Alabama Marinoh Ussery, stepdaughter, age 49, born in Alabama in 1850 to parents from Alabama Ellen Ussery, stepdaughter, age 43, born Alabama William R. Ussery, son, age 10, born 1895 in Mississippi, parents from Alabama and Mississippi John F. Ussery, son, age 3, born 1897
The second potentiality related person is Ben Ersery, a single white male pauper, born 1860 in Mississippi to parents from Mississippi, resident with John Bryant of household 228, a farmer who kept 16 paupers.
Otherwise, mentions of the Ersery/Usry/Ussery families in the area has been limited. However, some members of the family have remained in the area to the present time.
In 1907, Logan (1907:244) noted that here was a small hand pottery at Cumberland manufacturing a general line of stoneware, however, by the time he prepared his 1909 report, it had recently closed (Logan 1909:137). Logan (1909:180) also reports that for a number of years J.P. Thomas used an iron-spotted clay from the B.F. Sanders farm at Cumberland for stoneware manufacture. Thomas mixed the Sanders clay with a lighter-colored clay from near Clarkson to make about 2,000 gallons of brown-slipped jugs, jars, and churns per year. These may be the same operations.
By 1909, three generations of the Loyd family had made stoneware in a small hand pottery south of Webster, Winston County, with clay dug from the Dr. Eiland plantation (Logan 1909:137). The location of the J.A.M. Loyd pit is further described as two outcrops 1 mile south of Loyd's house on the Macon road (Logan 1909:187). These clays were varied throughout, being largely blue clays with some vegetable matter; he obtained his best results by mixing clays from the bottom 2' and the top 3" At cone 20, the clay was vitrified and nonporous. Logan (1909:188) says the Loyd clay "makes good stoneware even with crude hand methods." Two miles south of Webster on the Macon road, a few yards west of Loyd Church, Logan (1909:189) found a second pit used "many years" by the Loyds. The 12' thick outcrop of white clay with pink and purple tints lay under a lignitic member of the Wilcox formation. This very plastic clay was said to take salt and slip glazes very well and to vitrify to a strong body at cone 5.
Apparently this is the same Loyd family who potted in Alabama as well. Willet and Brackner (1983:19) note that the Loyds of Tremont (Itawamba County) patented a stoneware gravemarker, and that they sold the rights to manufacture it to other Mississippi and Alabama potters. The Loyds came to Marion County, in northwest Alabama, from Lincoln County, Tennessee, before spreading to Mississippi. As the Mobile, Jackson & Kansas City line ran through central Winston County, there may have been some opportunity for far-flung marketing of the Loyd products.
The Stewart operation has been one of Mississippi's most successful traditional stoneware potteries, and is still active in Louisville. In 1909, Logan (1909:137) noted "a few miles south of the Eiland plantation, Homer Stewart operates a small hand pottery." The Stewart clay pit at that time lay on the Macon-Louisville road, 1 ¼ miles east of the pottery. The material used was a yellowish white clay with yellow and purple blotches, cream when powdered. In 1909, Homer Stewart was producing 4,000 gallons a year of Albany-slipped jugs, churns, jars, and crocks with a 500 gallon-capacity updraught kiln. The ware was light red or cream with a strong hard body (Logan 1909:188). His son recalled that he made utilitarian household wares as well as flowerpots, urns, and birdbaths and that he began with salt glazing, then turned to use largely Albany slip, sometimes in combination with salt, and finally used Bristol slip. Albany ware fired in a kiln after it had been used for salt glazing had green streaks from the residual salt dripping on it (Sweezy 1984:121).
Sweezey (1984:121-124) interviewed one of Homer's sons, Gerald, who was still potting in Louisville, Mississippi, for a Smithsonian Institution study of the Southern traditional potters. William C. Stewart is believed to have come from Scotland to South Carolina, and his son Homer W. Stewart moved to Mississippi and established his Winston County pottery in 1888. (Hoffman (1938:12) confirms this as 1898, and notes that he had the help of his sons.) Three of Homer's sons became potters and a daughter, Hattie Mae married a potter.
Willet and Brown (1983:46) note that Horace V. "Jug" Brown, a member of a large, long-term potting family of Alabama, came to work for G.M Stewart in 1935, and that he married a Stewart sister before returning to Alabama in 1940. Sweezy (1984:121) notes that she (Hattie Mae) was "still" working in pottery with her son in Alabama. Zug (1986) lists nine Browns who have worked as potters in North Carolina; there may be some relationship between these families. The earliest listed is Hardy Brown (1814-1904) of Randolph County, whose son Benjamin F. was also a potter. In addition, brothers Davis Pennington Brown (1895-1967) and Evan Javan Brown (1897-1980) and some of their sons and grandsons also became potters (Zug 1986:436).
This first Stewart pottery was a few miles east of Louisville and was continued by brother Winfred after Homer's death in 1932; the Gerald Stewart pottery begun in 1965 was 5 miles from the original site. Two other Stewart potteries were noted: James Thomas Stewart's shop on Highway 14, begun after 1932, and, more recently, Bill Stewart's, on the original Homer and Winfred Stewart pottery location (Sweezy 1984:121). Hoffman (1938:XV:12) states that in 1933 Tom Stewart's pottery, conducted with his younger brothers W.W. and G.M. was run by a gas motor.
Holman's (1966) indexing of Winston County cemetery records lists numerous Stewarts, however, as this is a common name not all of them need be related to the potting family. William C. Stewart (1845-1913) and Homer W. Stewart (1867-1932) are buried at Murphy Creek Baptist Church Cemetery. It appears that Leona E. Stewart (1877-1951) was Homer's wife and the mother of the sons who carried on the potting trade, as an infant of H.W. and L.E. Stewart was also buried there in 1900. As concerns the family tradition that William C. Stewart was Scottish, James Stewart (1811-1895) and his wife Eliza (1826-1904), buried at Beth Salem Presbyterian Church, were both born in County Antrim, Ireland, along with other buried in this early Winston County Cemetery. These are the oldest Stewarts known to be buried in the county and their ages are appropriate to have been the parents of William C.
The Sweezy interview provides important details about the modern operation, which she characterizes as typical of traditional potteries. The shop is 30' x 40', with a dirt floor and two windows. It is near the house and has a clay pile and blocks and boards to hold drying ware in the front; in the back is the shed sheltering the kiln. He uses a bathtub sunk in the ground for a soaking pit and home-made, powered vertical clay mixer and throwing wheel. The clay is weighed to give standard size vessels and blocked (kneaded or wedged) on a canvas-covered board. The Albany slip is mixed in an outdoors tank and the wares are dried nearby. The tunnel or groundhog kiln was solidly constructed, of red brick mortared with red clay with salt added to cause it to fuse. Earth was packed around the structure and then the bank was contained with creosote poles and steel rods. The firing bed was sand, as is typical, and at each firing the end was bricked and daubed up. Greald Stewart had modified his kiln by removing parts of the fireboxes so that the cone 10 firing could be partially accomplished with gas; however, he still finished the firing with oak and pine slabs (Sweezey 1984:124).
Gerald Stewart began turning 6" flowerpots when he was 12 years old (ca. 1929). His late 20th century wares were Albany slipped churns, ranging from miniature display pieces to traditional 3, 4, and 5 gallon sizes. The churns had a single pulled loop handle and fitting lids. He also made pitchers, mugs, beanpots, spittoons, and unglazed flowerpots (Sweezy 1984:123-124). The used wooden measuring sticks, gauges, and ribs to ensure standardized products.
The Works Progress Administration county history (Hoffman 1938:III:8, XV:12) provides an indication of two other early Winston County potters. Thad Leopard had a "jug factory" in southwest Winston County around the 1860s. C.T. Crowell began to throw pots in east Winston County at the age of 15 in 1876. He hauled his wares in wagons for sale "town to town all over Mississippi" (or, more modestly, "over surrounding counties") until he retired in 1932. At some point, Crowell had two men helping him in the work. There may be some connection between these individuals. The time of Crowell's beginning work seems appropriate for his having been an apprentice of Leopard. Holman's (1966) indexing of Winston County graveyards lists a Thadious Lepard, who served in Company I, 2nd Arkansas Infantry, in the Civil War. No birth or death dates are given, but this appears likely to be the Thad Leopard who was a potter. Other Leopards at the Old Smallwood Cemetery in southwestern Winston County were:
Melgina W. Leoppard (1867-1922) Tressie Leopard Warren (died 1952, aged 51 years) Will Leopard (d. 1939)
Two other southwest Winston County cemeteries, Mars Hill and Mt. Nebo also have Leopards, two may have been Thad Leopard's wives:
Callie Eugene Leopard (d. 1961, aged 79 years) Mattie, wife of T.L. Leopard (d. 1883, aged 30 years) Virgina F., wife of T.L. Leopard (1845-1881) Odis W., son of W.H. and G.C. Leopard (1904)
The Crowell family is more widely distributed and more numerous in the county. However, no C.T. Crowell is listed by Holman (1966). The earliest indexed Crowell family grave in Winston County was a son of G.T. and F.E. Crowell who died in 1893 and was buried in the Ellison Ridge community. Two other children of this couple (Virgie R and George T., Jr.) were buried in another cemetery in 1895 and 1898. Frances Emma Crowell (1868-1934) and George T. Crowell (1860-1940), who are buried with these other children at Murphy Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in the Bond community (the same cemetery where the Homer Stewart was buried), would have been contemporaries of C.T. Crowell. It is possible that "C.T." is in error for "G.T." A birth date in 1860 is proper for the age of the potter, who was 15 in 1876. He appears to have had several brothers or cousins of the same generation in the county.
Logan (1909:137) also provides the tantalizing clue that "other small potteries have existed in this neighborhood (Loyd's and Stewart's) for short periods." Hoffman (1938:XV:12) also states that there have been potters in Winston County almost from its establishment, making jars, jugs, flower pots, churns, vases, and sometimes bowls and other dishes, and that one of these early potteries was near Betheden, where there was good clay available. One of these vaguely-referenced potteries was discovered archaeologically in the course of cultural resources survey on the Tombigbee National Forest, Akerman Unit, in Winston County. The site (22-Wi-692) lies east of Betheden, on the Old Robinson Road. The pottery was identified based on a dense concentration of glazed brick, kiln furniture and stoneware sherds, along with an adjacent housesite (Peacock 1999). Peacock suggests that the housesite is early 20th century, and later than the mid-to-late 19th century pottery. He also belives that kiln furniture was recovered from other nearby housesites. The site covers 2 ½ acres and produce 211 artifacts from 67 positive shovel tests. About 7 kg of brick was recovered, along with coal and slag. Kiln furniture (spacers) were square to rectangular. The ware was grey-bodied, apparently alkaline and/or salt glazed, with much unglazed material. Churns and churn lids were identified. The only indication of the manufacturer is the partial stamp "…M" and a "4" capacity stamp. None of the known potters of the area (Stewart, Loyd, Crowell, Leopard, or Jones and Grimate) seems appropriate for this stamp.
Tyson (1928:50) reports that in 1868 two Freedmen, Bill Jones and Mike Grimate, "good honest fellows and good citizens," came from Alabama and, discovering a source of kaolin "jug mud," began the manufacture of stoneware on a small scale. The pottery location was said to be in Section 8, Township 13, Range 15 in the southwest part of Noxubee County. Their pottery had no machinery and the wheels were foot-powered. Their wares were useful items, especially jugs and churns, as well as pitchers, flowerpots, and vases sold in the surrounding countryside. Tyson notes that their families had kept up the trade on a small scale until "now" (1926).
In Neshoba County, the Yates Pottery Factory (22-Ne-536) was recorded by James Atkinson in 1976, although he did not identify or visit the exact location due to heavy vegetation. Reportedly, it once had a large pile of broken stoneware (Atkinson 1976:28). The site is in the Pearl Valley area, on a hill near a flowing spring. The kiln was established by Darling B. Yates before 1860, and is believed to have been destroyed in by the Union army in 1863 (Atkinson 1976:27). Darling Yates died in 1861. Yates and Ridout (1992:52) note that the two-employee Yates factory produced gallon jugs, churns and other crockery, and that Pearl Valley was established as a post office from 1838-1867. In 1860, he used 48,000 pounds of clay to produce $1,200 worth of ware (similar U.S. Census figures also cited in Watkins 1942; as1200 gallons). A jug believed to have been made by Yates is brown-glazed redware (Atkinson 1976:28). The Yates family provided early settlers in the Burnside-Coldwater area of north central Neshoba County; they had a ferry over the Pearl River, and later members of the family were county officials, sometimes charged with road work and bridge construction. The family eventually became prosperous, having a drug store and houses in Philadelphia by 1900 (Yates and Ridout 1992:43, 76, 83,104,120-121, 133)
These counties lie outside the main clay-producing areas of the state. However, according to Ramsay (1947:236, 238, 240) all had early stoneware manufacturers. The names of the potters are not known. Unmarked stoneware was made at Brandon, Rankin County, ca. 1854; at Hart, Marion County, ca. 1859; and at Natchez, Adams County, ca. 1854.
Adams County has exposures of Pascagoula and Hattiesburg formation clays suitable for ceramics (Vestal and McCutcheon 1942:82). James (1968:207) cites the 1848 DeBow's Review in mentioning a pottery established at the Natchez Upper Landing which employed several hands. Any Marion County potter would probably have used similar Miocene Pascagoula and/or Hattiesburg formation clays.
Ramsay (1947:236) lists a mayer making unmarked redware in Biloxi ca. 1856-1890; he was followed by his son Joseph F. Mayer, ca. 1890-1900.
According to a brief note in the University of Mississippi Special Collections Clippings File, in 1926 in Gulfport Solon King had a factory at the east end of Second Street. Products were glazed wares and flowerpots, urns, statuary. They were associated with B.P. Mills of Kentucky with 25 years experience in pot manufacture.
A second pottery, manufacturing stoneware and whiteware art pottery is the Shearwater Pottery of Ocean Springs, begun by a brother of the artist Walter Anderson, and carried on by the family until today. They have used many clay sources, and mixed them in various ways. They are also famous for the many greenish and bluish glazes they have developed. Another famous potter of Biloxi, George Orr, also produced artware, ca. 1890-1900 (Ramsay 1947:236). Logan (1909:215) states that Orr's clay came from Biloxi and the low-fired, thin ware was formed into odd shapes, some glazed and some not. These art potteries will not be considered further as their products are well documented in art texts.
The Vestal-Wedgeworth Pottery (22LD658) is the only stoneware manufacturing site in Mississippi to have received significant archaeological attention, being subject of two brief testing programs. This pottery is probably the same as the Lockhart Pottery noted by Logan (1907). By 1909, Logan (1909:210, 137) states that a steam pottery owned by William Wedgeworth had recently gone out operation on the Mobile & Ohio railroad 1 mile north of Lockhart. It had changed hands several times since it was begun by Vestal "40 years ago" (around 1870). Intermediate owners have not been documented. Vestal's establishment was a crude hand pottery, upgraded by the Wedgeworth Brothers. Wedgeworth products included ornamental terracotta, tombstones, stoneware, and decorative items. Clay from one of the many outcrops in the vicinity of Lockhart was tested by the state geological survey at cone 4 as light pink, soft, and porous; at cone 8 as light gray, hard, and slightly porous; and at cone 13 as dark gray and steel hard, becoming white at cone 20 (Logan 1909:197). The 1900+10? price list from Wedgeworth Brothers gives wholesale (by the dozen) prices for jugs, churns, jars, milk pans, pitchers, spittoons, flowerpots, hanging baskets, and safe stands, most all in a variety of sizes (Carleton).
Zug (1986:445) lists two potters named Vestal from Chatham County, North Carolina, John A. (b. ca. 1817) and his son Henry (b. ca. 1839), based on listings in the 1850 and 1860 censuses. These potters learned the trade from the Jacob Fox (originally Pennsylvania German Fuchs) family who had settled in Chatham County around 1779 (Zug 1986:53).
Gums (1991) study of the Mobile Bay potteries provides further information on the McAdam (variously McAdams) family, who worked briefly at the Lockhart pottery, during the Vestal tenure. The vagrancy of potters across wide regions, and in this case, across the Atlantic, is a recurrent theme in the lives of many Southern potters. James McAdam (1820s-1880s) and his sons John (b. 1859) and Peter Wright (b. ca. 1869) worked at the Lockhart pottery for part of 1880, another son who had shipped clay and wares across Mobile Bay had died of tuberculosis in 1879 and a fourth son, James, was a business traveler of New York and Liverpool. McAdam and his sons, aged around 20 and 12, had worked at the Montrose pottery on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay since around 1875, and went from Lauderdale County, Mississippi, to the potteries at Pinson, in Madison County, Tennessee (Gums 1991:12, 15, 56.) This potting family arrived in the U.S. from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1869 and became citizens in 1871. In the 1870s, the McAdam family befriended the Zeigler family, Alabama River planters from the Orangeburg District of South Carolina, descended from Germans and married into a part-Creek American family. Portions of the 1875-1882 McAdam-Zeigler correspondence, including mentions of their brief stay in Lauderdale County, are preserved (Gums 1991:51-57). Three of the McAdams married Zeiglers; the McAdam family was also related by marriage in Glasgow to the McLean potting family of Coosada, Alabama, and later the O'Neal potting family of Mobile Bay. This complex and close kinship network between several generations of a potting family was also a common theme of the lives of these families in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Eventually, son Peter would return to Mobile Bay and become a maker of early 20th century art wares and garden ceramics as well as utilitarian wares; his factory site (1BA276), taken over from a French potter, LaCoste, had a brief salvage excavation (Gums 1991:17-22). Francis LaCoste (Coste) was potting on Mobile Bay by the 1840s and his sons George and Jerome carried on the trade until 1877 (Gums 2001:49).
The correspondence primarily concerns the families and neighbors, and reveals James McAdam's taste for Scott and Burns, but some information about the potteries they worked in is also mentioned. In 1879, prior to the death of Willie and the move to Mississippi, James wrote that " Little peter helps me alittle at the Factory….Johnnie is helping me-he makes ½ & 1 gallon jugs-and he makes very good ware (Gums 2001:16)." A letter from James dated 24 June 1880 at Lockhart states that "I am comfortably situated in a large factory and doing very well…[we] have not been so well situated since I came to America; I can make 2 or 3 dollars per day-and Johnnie is doing well-he can make about 11/2 dollars per day-he is improving fast. And working hard…We have got everything handy-with a free house &c…We like this place. The country is not unlike Coosada-hilly-and piney woods-with cotton and corn growing in the bottoms (Gums 1991:54)." On 16 August, 1880, James and Janet McLean McAdam wrote to the Zeiglers again from Lockhart saying again that they "are happier than we have been since we came to America; Johnnie is working hard and making good wages" but on 2 October 1881, James wrote from Pinson, Tennessee, where he was apparently living away from his now-ill wife and some of the sons and daughters, saying "I am doing well-and living comfortable amongst the decent folks of Western Tennessee. I cannot boast of my place-as it is not settled yet: We have (2) two partners-and they are very kindly; They have each made separate proposals to me-in reference to business but I am no hurry (Gums 1991:55)." In 1882, James moved a short distance north to Jackson, Tennessee, but died soon after, and is buried in the Zeigler Cemetery (Gums 2001:17).
Gums (2001:26) illustrates three of over 70 salt-glazed stilts from 1BA524 similar to a hand-turned stilt recovered from the Vestal-Wedgeworth Pottery. She notes their similarity to heavily salted (reused) stilts from 1BA276 (the LaCoste-McAdam site) and related kilns. A Fly Creek site specimen is also illustrated, and these unusual artifacts are described as "massive salt-glazed tubes that functioned as kiln furniture (Gums 2001:7)." This potentially diagnostic artifact class appears to belong to the European (Scottish and/or French) salt-glazing tradition; Gums (2001:9) states that "nearly unique to Eastern Shore pottery kiln sites are large, wheel-thrown, tubular stilts," probably used in association with cross-shaped shelves. The McAdam family also made ceramic cemetery posts; Peter McAdam into the 1920s (Gums 2001:20).
It also appears likely that there was a pottery in meridian itself around the turn of the last century. Clay from the Eakin farm had been shipped by rail to Meridian for the manufacture of stoneware at a plant, the Meridian Stoneware Company, which was out of business by 1909, and the Eakin clay was at that time still being shipped to Cuba, Alabama, to a stoneware manufacturing plant there (Logan 1909:213). The Cuba operation had "for a great many years" used the Eakin clay "just as taken from the pit (Logan 1909:211)." This clay was light yellow, hard, and porous at cone 7 and blue-gray, steel hard and slightly porous at cone 19 (Logan 1909:211). This is the only mention I have found so far of the Meridian Stoneware Company.
A final pottery in Lauderdale County is a 20th century art pottery, located in the town of Lauderdale. The ornate brick Lavender house, as well as the site of the kiln/workshop, is still standing and has been recorded as an architectural resource. Foster (1940:35-36), in describing the Fearn Springs formation of northeastern Lauderdale County, states that the Lauderdale or H.P. Lavender pottery used a local ball clay from the Fearn Springs formation (now Fearn Springs member of the Wilcox formation). In 1938 a clay pit on the Shelby farms, 4.5 miles southeast of Lauderdale was supplying the Lauderdale pottery. The deposit was estimated at 120 acres, with a 10' overburden (Foster 1940:95). The Lauderdale Pottery was also using clay from a pit on the Lauderdale-Cuba road. Lavender's main products are believed to have been redwares and terra cotta, such as unglazed strawberry pots. However, Foster (1940:95) notes that a clay outcrop southeast of Lauderdale was being used locally in the manufacture of stoneware; this may imply that Lavender made stoneware as well.
There are several avenues for additional research that could be pursued concerning Mississippi's stoneware potteries. The first is the archaeological documentation of former pottery sites. As part of this, chemical and thin section studies of the wares should be conducted.
Federal Census records also form an important resource, in addition to the specific figures that have been mentioned in the discussion of individual sites. In addition to the population schedules, statistics on agricultural and manufacturing were collected. However, the statistics collected each decade are generally not exactly comparable. A simple comparison of population to the production of such things as dairy produce (in other years milk, butter and cheese are separated), wine, market produce, hops might lead to informative figures that could be a surrogate for per capita needs in stoneware and other kitchen containers. In addition, professions are detailed, and from these it is obvious that the Ohio Valley was indeed supplying most of the nation's needs for stoneware and other pottery products (dishes, other containers, smoking pipes, tile). In 1880, the U.S. had 7, 233 potters, 4,763 native-born (66% native-born). Only 340 (less than 5% of all potters) of them were in the states that would make up the Confederacy, and of these only 19 were Mississippians (5% of Southern potters), the lowest for any Southern state except Louisiana (U.S. Government Printing Office 1883). This modest contribution appears to have been typical throughout the state's history. Lowe (1915) notes that in 1912, pottery accounted for .5% of the value of the state's clay products ($12,706 vs. $589,093) which were mostly brick and tile. However, the fact that Mississippi has significant deposits of commercial grades of clay has long been recognized, even though these resources have been little-developed, or when they were exploited, were exported in raw form to be finished by manufacturers in other states.
The ultimate aim of my larger stoneware project is to arrive at a macroscopic and chemical description of known Midsouth stonewares so that they can be used in the analysis of sherds recovered from 19th and 20th century housesites. A wide-ranging approach is necessary, as marketing did not respect state lines. For instance, much of the production of the Mobile Bay potteries may have been shipped up the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers. Potters who had access to railroads, like the Holly Springs potteries in the north and Wedgeworth in the south may have had very large distribution areas with a very thin spread of their product that would complement dense distribution networks near their kilns. Such a comparison of kiln wasters to domestic site sherds would elucidate the areas of marketing for the local stoneware producers, as well as the consumer choices of the domestic sites' occupants. It would also help to tie down the dating of the domestic sites, when the production dates are known for the potteries. In Arkansas, where one Sebastian County (Oauchita Mountains section) stoneware kiln has been tested, the contract firm conducted a series of technical analyses of the pottery recovered. These methods included radiography (x-ray photography), thin sectioning, and …. From these data, the stoneware sherds from nearby and more distant houses could be examined for closeness of fit with the locally produced wares. This comparison has not been undertaken, but based on the results of my visual comparison of Vestal-Wedgeworth pottery to sherds from Meridian Naval Air Station housesites, I believe such an undertaking would be worthwhile.
In connection with studies of domestic sites, documents provide many important details. These documentary sources include the population censuses; courthouse documents of wills and estate sales including stores; and oral history interviews. However, there area number of serious problems that will impede this study. Foremost is the very low priority assigned to historic sites archaeology in the state of Mississippi. Even in areas such as the National Forest lands (Figure----) where an attempt has been made to give systematic coverage to historic as well as prehistoric resources, sample sizes of ceramics recovered through shovel testing is almost always too small to provide statistically significant numbers of sherds for attempted source-identification.
As many of us have noted, the treatment of historic sites in Mississippi has traditionally been very poor. Projects such as the testing and salvage excavations at a northeast Arkansas farmstead, Moser, (Stewart-Abernathy 1986) demonstrate the potential sites occupied into the 20th century have for informing the way we interpret our own recent history. Although it is not stated explicitly, the industrial stonewares that arrived on the train and were bought and used by Laura Moser Sharp and Rose Parker Moser between 1882 and 1917 allowed them to make butter for sale in the wider Rogers-Springdale area, as well as butter for their own tables. This pattern of what can be widely construed as "truck farming" occurs throughout much of the upland quadrant of Arkansas with farms, rather than being isolated and backwards remnants of the 1840s frontier, being modernized participants, both as consumers and producers, in an intricately complex local, regional, and national economy.
Concerning the lack of interest displayed in the sharecropper houses in Panamerican Consultants' (PCI) Sunflower River project, conducted for the Vicksburg District, U.S. army Corps of Engineers, I would say that the Delta, no less than the Ozarks, has been psychologically constituted with historical myth. This myth still has many layers of meaning active in today's Delta social and political superstructure. In addition, as myth in general, this sharecropper myth undoubtedly has as many facets of unreality as it does reality. The objective materialism of archaeology has a role to play in reconciling those myths with historical reality by examining the physical aspect of the cultural environment of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The purported dependence on the tenant on the plantation commissary and of the planter on bankers, cotton factors, and the urban supply hubs are two facets of history as popularly construed that immediately come to mind. A diet of cornbread and bacon unrelieved with fresh or commercial produce is another aspect of the myth that has Black tenants as pure commercial laborers without time or means to provide themselves food to supplement the "furnish" of their landlord. Yet many of the Sunflower sites had very high proportions of stoneware. Without some description of the materials recovered (for example, jars vs. jugs) it is impossible to say that this stoneware does not represent pickling, preserving, and churning rather than the drinking of commercial whiskey. (On the other hand, jars are also for wine and beer making and jugs for bringing molasses bought from the store or mill). The identification of an individual jar, churn, or jug at a site is not particularly revealing. Only with excavated or otherwise intensively generated samples can actual assemblages be revealed. It is only with redundancy of form that patterns are discerned. This means that we should collect and excavate a number of these supposedly uninteresting, and not significant tenant sites.
Another Mississippi myth is the mass migration of Blacks and poor Whites out of the hills when the Delta was opened and then out of the Delta and to the North with a wage economy expanded by the two World Wars, part of a larger myth of the rootless and nomadic Black family. Archaeology is often confounded when confronted with sites known to have had frequent shifts in occupants, an occupation structure folklore ascribes to most tenant farms (on closer examination cases are always found where a family stayed many years on a particular piece of ground). Indeed, individually, any assemblage that results from the combined needs and preferences of several families may be uninteresting and muddled. Regional survey may be the best response to this condition, by examining several houses known to lie on a single plantation and a series of plantations along a single navigable stream or rail-line. The Coastal Environments (CEI) consulting firm has conducted several such studies in Louisiana. From such studies it should be possible to express at the least general regional preferences for particular artifact forms and suppliers. This may or may not hold true, but there is some potential for interpreting individual occupations if distinct subsurface features are ever identified. Once again, folklore holds that sharecroppers had no privy pits and that water came from drilled pipe wells, but there could be subsurface features at some of these sites. Even marginal dumps, burning piles, and trash pits could provide discrete contexts attributable to individual occupations. We will never know until some of these sites are subjected to additional investigation, such as mechanized stripping of the plowzone. Short-term sites also have the potential to provide assemblages with less "noise" caused by frequent shifts in tenants.
With precision grading in the Delta, it is becoming harder to say that tenant housesites are a redundant, ubiquitous, or superabundant cultural resource. Delta sharecropping has barely been investigated archaeologically [CEI work, Bolivar?). As the activity of pre- or marginally-literate people, the domestic activities at these sites have largely escaped the pen of history. With notable exceptions such as the Farm Security Administration's documentation, the surviving photographs show the tenants in their best clothes in the studio, not at work or play in their fields, yards and kitchens. One of the most thorough and evocative forms of documentation of the sharecropper's life is in song, as recorded from early in this century on the "race" and "hillbilly" labels. That blues recordings were made in the 1920s is a chinkhole in the view of monolithic and overwhelming poverty on the plantation. These records would not have been made if there was not a record-player owning population that wanted to hear them. Soon thereafter, dry cell battery cores from radios began to enter the archaeological deposits of many tenant houses. Yet we choose not to excavate Delta cabin and shack sites, not even those of the bluesmen. If we did, would we find that the tenants were making wine and beer, or that some had milkcows? Would we find that their stoneware was made in the steam-powered factories of the Ohio Valley, or on kick wheels in the clearings of the Mississippi hills?
Turning to the Hills section of Mississippi, we find a slightly different myth, but one whose construction still informs the politics of Mississippi. The loess bluffs, red clay hills, and piney woods were the bastion of the small farmer, the "redneck" whose only claim to status, but a critical one, was not being born black. Depression-era photographs eloquently portray the poverty of tenant and small owner families trying to produce cotton on worn-out land. Indeed, this last condition is popularly known to be the origin of the National Forests and military training bases of the South: we were protected from that sad fate by removing these marginal lands from rowcrop production. Small artifact sample size plagues the National Forest samples. This is largely the result of shovel-test discovery and making small grab samples from logging roads and clearcuts. It is evident that in larger assemblages where vessel forms and household assemblages can be identified stoneware can be critical in understanding domestic operations at individual sites. As in the Delta, site destruction is a major problem for the future of historic archaeology in the uplands of Mississippi. Mechanized logging and tree farming, which entails bulldozing unwanted wood into windrows and replanting on 1-m center rows hipped up about 50 cm, is highly destructive and is the prevalent form of land management across much of the state.
Turning to a stereotype about the whole Mid-South, it is a common belief that we have never produced anything of worth besides raw materials-historically cotton and lumber. That the potteries of Mississippi do present an example of manufacturing, some at a not-so-rudimentary scale, was one things that first attracted my attention to the archaeological study of stoneware. However, assuming stoneware to be a "local" product is as wrong as calling whitewares and ironstones local. Much stoneware used in the Mid-South, especially in the area lying within the Mississippi Valley trade network, comes from as far away as the "finer products". At the same time that some poor Southern farmers were turning and firing a few kilns of pots a year, large mechanized, steam-powered factories, both in the same general area and further afield, were producing vast quantities of vessels that may have been displayed in rural stores in direct competition with the "local" products. Defining the distribution ranges of real "local" products is an important goal.
Delving further back into document-based perceptions of our history, a racial stereotype of the descendant of the Scotch-Irish Ulstermen as a hunters and cowboys abounds in descriptions of the Old Southwest frontier. As recently as the "Great" (i.e. last great) Depression into the modern era, we see upland Mississippi farmers turning out their cotton-growing tenants to convert land to pasture for beef cattle. Pork, from hog-killing and the smokehouse to bacon frying and fatback in the peas, is undoubtedly a central icon in Southern memorials of the recent past, but on closer examination, a bowl of corn bread-and-buttermilk may run a close second in recollections of "home down on the farm". Milk and butter production have a distinctive signature in the archaeological record--stoneware and earthenware bowls or "milkpans" for cooling and scalding milk, churns, and small butter storage crocks. By neglecting stoneware, we neglect many of the main issues that archaeology can address, from consumer choice and marketing networks to household supply and foodways.
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