Turning and Burning

Turning and Burning: Locally Made Pottery from the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek Assemblage

By D. Brad Hatch

July continues our series of posts highlighting the artifacts recovered from the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site (31Rd1426/1426**) in Randolph County, North Carolina. Dovetail Cultural Resource Group conducted data recovery excavations at this site on behalf of the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), guided by the data recovery plan authored by NCDOT (Overton 2014). Of the over 8,000 ceramic sherds recovered from the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site, nearly half (3,826) were made in North Carolina. These locally produced wares underscore the importance of the ceramic industry to the economy of piedmont North Carolina and the reliance of residents on locally manufactured goods. This blog post focuses on some of the wares whose makers can be identified in order to illustrate the number of potters in the region and how far people would go to buy their goods. For a more detailed treatment of these ceramics click here.

Marked, or otherwise identifiable, wares from at least six different potters were identified in the collection gathered from the site (Table; Photos 1–7). Dates of production for these potters, when they were not known from historical references, were estimated by adding 20 years to their birth date and extending the span to the date of their death. While the production span for some of these wares may be slightly shorter or longer, they are probably not exceedingly different. The majority of these potters began production prior to 1850. However, most had a production range that extended through the latter half of the nineteenth century. Notably, all of these potters had kilns in Randolph County during at least some portion of their career. Jacob Craven had at least three kilns during his lifetime, one of which was in Randolph County, while the remaining two were located just south of the county line in Moore County. All of the kilns used by these potters during their periods of production were located within 14 miles (22.5 km) of the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site and half were within 10 miles (16.1 km) (Figure).

PotterKiln LocationDate of Production
Jacob D. CravenRandolph and Moore Counties, NCca. 1847-1895
Enoch S. CravenRandolph County, NCca. 1830-1893
William N. CravenRandolph County, NC1842-1857
Nathan B. DicksRandolph County, NCca. 1875-1918
Alfred L. MoodyRandolph County, NCca. 1880-1924
Chester WebsterRandolph County, NCca. 1840-1882
Table: Identified Potters Represented in the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek Assemblage.

A brief glimpse of this extraordinary grouping of locally made ceramics from the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site provides important insight into the development of the ceramic industry in Randolph County from approximately 1840 to the early-twentieth century, a period when the potting tradition in this region was flourishing. It also suggests that local residents were paramount in supporting these artisans throughout history, allowing potters and their families to put down roots and prosper in the region. As a result, many of the descendants of the potters identified in this assemblage still produce ceramic wares in the area and pottery production remains an important aspect of the economy in the North Carolina piedmont.

Photo 1: Locally Made Coarse Earthenware Jar Fragment with Sine Wave Decoration, Attributed to Nathan Dicks.

Photo 1: Locally Made Coarse Earthenware Jar Fragment with Sine Wave Decoration, Attributed to Nathan Dicks.

Photo 2: Locally Made Earthenware Chamber Pot with N.B. Dicks Mark.

Photo 2: Locally Made Earthenware Chamber Pot with N.B. Dicks Mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo 3: Locally Made Stoneware Jug with W.N. Craven Mark.

Photo 3: Locally Made Stoneware Jug with W.N. Craven Mark.

Photo 4: Locally Made Stoneware Pot with E.S. Craven Mark.

Photo 4: Locally Made Stoneware Pot with E.S. Craven Mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo 5: Locally Made Stoneware Jug or Pitcher with J.D. Craven and Capacity Mark.

Photo 5: Locally Made Stoneware Jug or Pitcher with J.D. Craven and Capacity Mark.

Photo 6: Locally Made Stoneware Vessel with A.L. Moody Mark.

Photo 6: Locally Made Stoneware Vessel with A.L. Moody Mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo 7: Locally Made Stoneware Jug with Bird Decoration Attributed to Chester Webster.

Photo 7: Locally Made Stoneware Jug with Bird Decoration Attributed to Chester Webster.

 

Figure: Map Showing Location of Kilns for Identified Potters in Relation to the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek Site.

Figure: Map Showing Location of Kilns for Identified Potters in Relation to the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek Site.

 

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.

References:

Overton, Brian
2014    Archaeological Data Recovery Plan: Site 31Rd1426, Randolph County, North Carolina. North Carolina Department of Transportation Human Environment Section, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Check out Jefferson Patterson Park’s Diagnostic Artifacts webpage for more images of stonewares recovered from the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek Site.

Discussions with local North Carolina potters, scholars, and collectors of North Carolina pottery were instrumental in the identification of the locally produced wares from the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site. Specifically, I would like to express my gratitude to Hal Pugh and Eleanor Minnock-Pugh of New Salem Pottery, Mary Farrell of Westmoore Pottery, and Tommy Cranford. 

A Not So Perfect Match

Featured Fragment – Nineteenth-Century Table Settings

By D. Brad Hatch, Ph.D. and Kerry S. González

This month’s blog continues our series highlighting the artifacts recovered from the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site in Randolph County, North Carolina. On behalf of the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), Dovetail Cultural Resource Group conducted data recovery excavations at the site, guided by the data recovery plan authored by NCDOT (Overton 2014).

The grouping of artifacts highlighted in Photo 1 were chosen to reflect ceramic consumption patterns at the site. While analyzing and processing the assemblage Dovetail staff decided to do a mock-up of a nineteenth-century table setting, mostly with artifacts recovered from the site. [Note: The kerosene lamp is a reproduction however several pieces of glass from the chimney of a similar lamp were recovered at the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site.] The photograph below was taken in the basement of Belle Grove Plantation, birthplace of President James Madison, which provided a historically accurate setting for our recreation.

Photo 1: Nineteenth-Century Table Setting Recreated with Artifacts Recovered from the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek Site. Note blue-edged plates.

 

The primary purpose of staging this photograph was to highlight that matched sets in a table setting, like we have today, were not always the norm. What we learned from analyzing the collection was that the inhabitants of the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site appear to have chosen decorated refined earthenwares from various decorative categories (transfer printed, hand painted, and dipt/edged wares) (Photo 2). The assemblage illustrated that there was a stronger preference for the less-expensive decorative types (edged wares) which was mixed with a lower density of more expensive ceramics that were transfer printed.

Perhaps the most important factor influencing ceramic use at the site was socioeconomic status. Based on historical and archaeological evidence, the inhabitants of the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site appear to have been lower-middling to middling in terms of their status. In a general sense, the known status of the site occupants appears to correlate well with their respective decorative ceramic assemblages.

Photo 2: Sample of Various Decorative Motifs Recovered From Trogdon-Squirrel Creek Site. From left: brown transfer print, hand painted, and dipt.

 

The fact that many of the transfer printed vessels from the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site were mismatched underscores the economic constraints of the site inhabitants, since they were unable to make the large capital outlays necessary to purchase full sets of these costly wares. While the majority of the transfer printed ware in the assemblage were decorated with blue ink, suggesting at least an attempt to match the color palette, there were also black, red, and brown printed vessels. Residents at the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site do appear to have possessed matching, or at least almost matched, place settings of blue-edged wares. These cheaper wares would have been less of a financial burden, but still would have allowed the site occupants to display their knowledge of fashionable dining practices.

Keep this in mind the next time you are out shopping for new dishes. Perhaps you don’t need to worry about everything matching and instead just keep with a similar color palette. In fact, there are several articles available online that give a step by step guide on how to mismatch your tables wares which suggest picking a color or playing with different shapes.

 

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.

References: 

Overton, Brian
2014    Archaeological Data Recovery Plan: Site 31Rd1426, Randolph County, North Carolina. North Carolina Department of Transportation Human Environment Section, Raleigh, North Carolina.

A is for Artifact

Featured Fragment – Marriott Alphabet Cup

By Kerry S. González and Dr. Kerri S. Barile

For this month’s blog we are reaching way back into the archives to one of Dovetail’s first large-scale projects. In early 2006, the City of Fredericksburg and the Inns of Fredericksburg LLC employed Dovetail to investigate the history of a lot on the corner of Caroline and Charlotte streets in Fredericksburg, Virginia, now the location of the Courtyard by Marriott. The study, completed over the course of several months, uncovered more than 300 years of layered occupational history, a common occurrence on urban archaeological sites (Photo 1). These included: 1) part of the foundation of Roger Dixon’s early- to mid-eighteenth-century store; 2) the rear section of the circa 1773–1832 Indian Queen Tavern; 3) a rear work area associated with the Indian Queen; 4) a late-1830s Servant Quarter built over both the eighteenth-century building and the Tavern; 5) an 1840s brick alley wall; and 6) an early-twentieth-century porch stoop. All told, over 70,000 artifacts were retrieved during Dovetail’s excavation, two of which will be highlighted in this post.

Photo 1: Overview of the Marriott Excavation Area Showing the Many Foundations Exposed During the Archaeology Study.

The two artifacts presented in this blog are from an alphabet cup, an uncommon find on archaeological sites. These two fragments represent two sides of one brown transfer print whiteware cup. Alphabet Wares were most commonly produced on plates, with cups seemingly being less favorable to potters. They were first made in England beginning in the late-eighteenth century with production continuing throughout the twentieth century (kovels.com). These vessels were made for children with the intent of teaching them their A,B,Cs. As seen in Photo 2 the alphabet letters on the cup found at the Marriott site are printed in a large, easy to read format. Alphabet Ware plates typically had decorated centers with scenes appealing to a child, such as animals or children’s activities. Cups were decorated with similar childlike motifs like the example shown in Photo 3 that depicts a lazy day on the river.

Photo 2: Alphabet Ware Cup Fragments Recovered During Marriott Excavation Decorated with a Brown Transfer Print and Daisy Motif.

 

Photo 3: Nineteenth-Century Brown Transfer Printed Cup with Boat Motif on Complete Cup Representing the Same Design on the Cup Found During the Marriott Excavations (Ebay 2017).

This semi-hands-on learning style was not unique to Alphabet Ware or even the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During medieval times and through the eighteenth century, children used what is known as a hornbook (Figure 1 and Photo 4). A hornbook was a paddle-shaped piece of wood with a piece of parchment or paper containing a lesson affixed to the board. The parchment or paper was mounted in a frame and covered with a very thin piece of horn or mica to keep the parchment intact and safe from a child’s dirty hands. The handle portion was purely to make holding the learning device easier for both the child and the instructor, be it a parent, nanny, or tutor. The lessons typically consisted of letters (sometimes both upper and lowercase) above Arabic numbers followed by the Lord’s Prayer.

According to Moya Cove (2006), the eighteenth-century learning style known as the ‘gingerbread method’ was a direct result of the phonic-based hornbook. In a move away from the monotony of learning letters from a board, teachers and parents alike strove to revive learning by making letters out of gingerbread (Cove 2006). However, years prior to making actual letters from gingerbread dough, baked goods decorated with letters were sold in open market stalls (faqs.org 2006).

Regardless of when and how children learned their letters, the idea of integrating learning into daily life and activities has remained a constant throughout history. Today, homes with children likely have more educational aides than can ever be used. And to think, 200 years ago, simple gingerbread dough and a cup with letters was more than enough. Perhaps they also practiced letters with a stick in the dirt but they certainly managed without all the bells and whistles we have in 2017.

 For more information on Alphabet Wares visit the Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland Webpage which has an excellent article on this type of ceramic and date ranges for the various styles.

Figure 1: ‘Miss Campion’ Holding a Hornbook, 1661 (thenonist.com 2003).

 

Photo 4: Typical Hornbooks (thenonist.com 2003).

 

 

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.

References: 

Cove, Moya
2006    Sounds Familiar: The Historic of Phonics Teaching. In, Phonics: Practice, Research and Policy, edited by Maureen Lewis and Sue Ellis, pp. 105–112. Paul Chapman Publishing, Thousand Oak, California.

Ebay
2017    Staffordshire Alphabet ABC Mug. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Staffordshire-Alphabet-ABC-Mug-4-boys-and-a-row-boat-/141806025511, accessed May 2017.

faqs.org
2006    ABC Books. On-line documentation. http://www.faqs.org/childhood/A-Ar/ABC-Books.html, accessed May 2017.

Kovels.com
2011    ABC Plates; Collectors’ Concerns. http://www.kovels.com/20009070881
63/Collectors-Concerns/abc-plate.html, accessed 2011.

Thenonist.com
2003    The Humble Hornbook. On-line documentation. http://thenonist.com/index.php/
thenonist/permalink/the_humble_hornbook/, accessed May 2017.

Hugh Smith & Co. Stoneware

Featured Fragment – Stoneware Sleuthing

By Joe Blondino

new stoneware_edited-1

Recovered Sherd of Hugh Smith & Co. Stoneware

During the summer of 2015, Dovetail conducted exploratory excavations on the grounds of Tudor Place, a historic Federal-style mansion in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.  The excavations focused on the yard of the building now housing Tudor Place’s administrative offices. This building, known as the Dower House, was a dwelling constructed sometime around 1867, roughly 50 years after the completion of the Tudor Place mansion. The house was built on what was once a portion of the grounds of Tudor Place itself, prior to the subdivision of the property into smaller parcels. As such, Dovetail’s excavations revealed artifacts related to the occupation of the Dower House, as well as earlier artifacts relating to the main Tudor Place mansion and other associated buildings and activities.

Among the artifacts recovered was a sherd of blue and gray salt-glazed stoneware (pictured above). This type of ceramic was commonly used in the nineteenth century and is frequently recovered on archaeological sites. Vessels made of this ware included crocks, storage jars, and other utilitarian forms. These vessels were usually produced locally, as they were relatively easy to make and fire and few people wanted to pay the added cost involved in importing such commonplace, practical vessels from far away. Tablewares like plates, bowls, and teacups, on the other hand, were meant to impress, and would be imported from overseas manufacturers who were set up to produce more beautiful and delicate ceramics.

Despite how common salt-glazed stoneware is on archaeological sites, Dovetail archaeologists got an unusual bonus with this particular fragment: it was embossed with the name of the manufacturer. The sherd was clearly stamped with the name “HUGH SMITH & CO.” A bit of research revealed that stonewares were being manufactured under the Hugh Smith name in nearby Alexandria, Virginia in the nineteenth century, showing that the residents of the Tudor Place property were indeed obtaining locally produced stonewares. As thrilling as it was to discover this level of detail in the archaeological record at the site, it gets even better—we could narrow the manufacturing date range of our sherd down to only a few years. As it turns out, pottery bearing the Hugh Smith name started being made around 1821, but only used the “HUGH SMITH & CO.” mark until 1825, when it was exchanged for the slightly abbreviated “H. SMITH & CO.” Not only did we find out where this fragment was manufactured, but we narrowed the production date down to a period of only five years! Although it is difficult to say when the vessel was broken and discarded, this nonetheless provides us with valuable information about the consumer habits of members of the Tudor Place household during a very brief window of time and allows us to make inferences about more general patterns of consumer behavior during that period.

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.

To learn more about the Alexandria, Virginia pottery that produced the sherd, go to: https://www.alexandriava.gov/historic/archaeology/default.aspx?id=33638#smith

 

A Community Comes Together

Featured Fragment–The Marshall-Bell Kiln Site

It started with a frantic phone call from an employee with the City of Fredericksburg: a construction crew downtown had uncovered a mass of stoneware fragments. The Marshall-Bell site, named after the known potters of this 1830s kiln, not only produced an abundance of artifacts and information on early-nineteenth century urban kilns, but its emergency excavation rallied a group effort of immeasurable proportions. This pro-bono salvage effort conducted by Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and their non-profit partner, the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation Inc. (HFFI), brought together city residents, cultural resource management firms, City employees, state historic preservation office representatives, developers, and non-profits like George Washington’s Ferry Farm, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center, to complete the field work and laboratory analysis. Work on the site resulted in the discovery of wasters from the kiln production as well as the foundations of several nearby dwellings. The nearly 20,000 recovered artifacts were washed and sorted by volunteers who came into the Dovetail lab in a steady stream. The work continues to this day with the help of volunteers to complete the final artifact preparation for curation/ labeling prior to the majority of the collection being curated with the City of Fredericksburg.

jack_2 newbie

 

necks_rims-sm

 

The Marshall-Bell salvage project is a great example of how a community, non-profits, businesses, and professional and avocational archaeologists can work together on a site to produce a final product that can benefit not only the archaeological community but the region as well. Without the help and cooperation of the various private, local, regional, and state stakeholders this project would not be possible, and Dovetail is eternally grateful for everyone’s help and continued interest in the site. In March 2015 Dovetail will be honored with HFFI’s Executive Director’s Special Recognition Award for their generous support of archaeological research at the Marshall-Bell Kiln site. While Dovetail is greatly appreciative with this recognition, the work was truly a cumulative effort and could not have been completed without the help of all those involved. We hope in the months to come that we can put our plan into action and get the Marshall-Bell type collections in the hands of those interested. Maybe one day future researchers will be able to identify complete forms of the pottery made at the Marshall-Bell kiln site.

 

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.