Artifact of the Month
J. D. Wilbur Pottery
Donated by Lockwood and Annabel Searcy
J. D. Wilbur (1833-1889) came to Northwest Arkansas from Ohio and opened a pottery in the Washington County settlement of Boonsboro (now Cane Hill) around 1870. He made stoneware crocks, churns, flower pots, milk pitchers, lamps, mixing bowls and canning jars. Wilbur marked his work with a star and "Boonsboro, Ark" under his name.
From The Cane Hill Story, 1825-1969 by Conrow R. Miller: "[Wilbur] had a vat in which the clay was mixed. In the middle of this container a post was set upright with an arm that reached beyond the box. A mule was hitched to the arm, much like the device used to press cane juice to make molasses. As the mule walked around the vat, the blade rotated. This mixed the clay to the proper consistency for molding vessels. Water would be added to the 'dough' from which would emerge the green ware."
According to Forrest Dutton Poorman, author of "J. D. Wilbur: His Pottery in Cane Hill," (Washington County Historical Society Flashback, August 1992): "In various Washington County records from 1870-1879, J. D. Wilbur reported he had $500 invested in his business. He kept his operations going 12 months a year. He himself was the only worker above 16 years of age. His supplies were wood, clay, and salt. He estimated his annual income at $250."
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