History of pottery has Ohio roots


Mankind has always developed, invented or sought ways to ease labor with items that would serve his needs more readily.

The wheel for transportation, utensils for cooking, aids in hand tool work, food preservation and various items for handling foodstuffs are all human labor aids.

Ever since mankind became less nomadic and remained in one area for a length of time, food, water carrying, preparation and storage from the elements were concerns.

Need for pottery. Slowly, it became evident that pottery from local soil was needed to solve these problems.

The history of American pottery and porcelain paralleled Great Britain’s involvement to clay products.

One of the first necessities of a homestead is housing, and wood was plentiful in colonial times. The emigrant folks came to the conclusion that more permanent structures were needed for longevity.

Memories of sturdy brick and block buildings by more affluent members created a desire for such dwellings.

Bricks and clay. By 1612, bricks were made in Virginia. Next came the need for service wares, and in 1684 white ware was introduced by local potters. Slowly, similar clay products were manufactured in this country.

In those yesteryears, any product created from earthen products – wood, clay, metal, etc. – was manufactured close to such raw materials for economy sake and transportation.

The Ohio River areas were able to supply such needs – base material and transportation – via the river.

Clay materials were available in many states and the manufacturing of earthen wares began earlier in those regions.

Ohio roots. Some historians say the history of East Liverpool, Ohio is the pottery history of the United States. Other renown localities may differ in that opinion.

James Bennett, a potter from Newhall, England immigrated to Jersey City, Md. and remained for three years. He moved on to Troy, Ind. and later traveled up the Ohio River to East Liverpool seeking a locality for his pottery.

At this location, he discovered excellent clay for the yellow ware that most folks sought during that era. In 1839, he established a small beginning and, assisted by Anthony Kearns, satisfied his desire for quality yellow ware.

This small pottery was the beginning of one of the largest suppliers of pottery in the United States.

Eventually Kearns rented his portion to Bennett. Thereafter, Bennett sent for his three brothers in England and began Bennett and Brothers Pottery, which later moved to Birmingham, near Pittsburgh.

Diverse types of wares slowly were introduced, and awards from many shows were given for superior products.

Variety abounds. Also many sorts of bodies were made – yellow ware, Rockingham, greens and blue. Many shapes were quite elaborate, more for display than use.

As is true of any manufacturer wishing to improve and excel in their products, Bennett developed egg-shell body wares, parian products, and high-grade dinner and toilet wares.

When Bennett left East Liverpool in 1844, his establishment was rented for a length of time by four Croxall men; the senior member, John W., remained there as late as 1898.

Harker Pottery also was manufacturing yellow and Rockingham ware until 1879, then white granite ware, into the 1900s.

Who’s who in pottery. Other names were well known in East Liverpool around 1900 – Novelty Pottery Works, later known as McNicol Pottery Company, Broadway Pottery, Goodwin Brothers, and Salt and Mear.

The latter manufactured the yellow and Rockingham wares like most other East Liverpool potters in a building named Mansion House.

Undoubtedly due to the natural resources and supply and demand, yellow and Rockingham wares were made by almost all these potters. Quite an amount was heavy, sturdy, wear resistant hotel ware.

The majority of wares found today are of this heavy white ware variety.


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