Where Did All the Redware Go?
There were many potters in the greater Elkton area during the 18th century. Most sold their wares to local folks and they made a decent living. But one or two of these potters branched out and sold their redware and stoneware in other markets. According to author and lecturer, Dr. James Koterski*, one of these potters, Mathew Crips of Wilmington, Delaware, shipped some of his redware to Henry Hollingsworth of Elkton. Dr. Koterski says that while Crips’s ledgers indicate the sales to Hollingworth, we don’t know what Hollingsworth did with it.
“We know his (Crips) customers; Henry Hollingsworth was one of them, Tobias Rudolph was another. But those quantities are way too large for any one family’s needs. They must have been resold,” Koterski writes, “but to whom? They likely became part of Chesapeake Bay commerce. But to whom and to where?”
And that’s where Historic Elk Landing comes in. For the last couple of months, Dr. Koterski has been pouring over the early 19th century ships’ ledgers that reside in the Elk Landing archives looking for clues of just where the Crips pottery went. So far he has found none, however, the search is not over. “I’ve looked over a few shops logs, but they date to the early 1800s, too late for Crips. But there were later Wilmington and Philadelphia potters,” Koterski continues, “the names of whom I’d recognize if they were noted. I have seen a few references to pottery, but the entries contain no details. My sense is that these wares came out ofBaltimore. At this point, I don’t know if any earlier ships’ logs exist.”
So the search continues. One never knows what one might find in the Elk Landing archives that date back to the late 1700s. A team of volunteers is reviewing and cataloguing our archives and will soon have a complete inventory. When that happens, we will begin posting both the catalogue and some of the documents on our web site, www.elklanding.org for researchers, young and old, to review and maybe find a nifty tidbit of history that will shed light on Elk Landing’s past. Until then, we have posted several complete reports about Elk Landing’s history on the web site under Research. Among the documents are archeological studies, tree ring studies that date the Stone House, and information about the War of 1812 at Elk Landing.
Speaking of archeology, the artifacts from all of those studies are also available through the Historic Elk Landing Foundation. Another future project is to review the inventory of those artifacts and begin a rotating display of what went into and has come out of the Elk Landing soil over the thousands of years that humans have existed there. We will, of course, keep you posted through this “Elk Landing Appeal,” our web site, and on Facebook.
*Dr. Koterski is the author of Potters and Firebrick Makers of Cecil County, Maryland, and Nearby 1750-1950 and Early Potters and Potteries of Delaware 1760-1890.