Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stewart Jug Unearthed?

Wood-fired, salt-glazed jug unearthed
away from kiln site this past Sunday,
showing where handle was attached

This past Sunday Hal and Eleanor Pugh of New Salem Pottery just north of Seagrove came by for a visit to take a look at what we believe is a kiln site belonging to 19th century potter W.J. Stewart, who crafted pots and made whiskey on our land back in the 1890s.

After spending a couple of hours wandering the site and locating evidence, we headed back to the house and stopped along the way to chat. I spotted what looked like the top of a jug on top of a pile of leaves. I ignored it while I listened to the conversation, then later stepped over and got a closer look. There appeared to be quite a bit of open space beneath the shard as I peared into the mouth of the jug. I tapped the shoulder and heard the distinct hollow ring of a large vessel.

I got excited, and broke off a twig to fashion a crude digging tool and spent the next few minutes carefully digging around the jug. Soon I was able to wiggle the jug free. Its handle was missing, but the rest of the jug was intact. No cracks. Hal, who graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Anthropology and has participated in some archeological digs, was as excited as I was when I handed him the jug.

I'm not yet positive it's a W.J. Stewart jug, but it's a salt-glazed, wood-fired jug, and to think that it may have sat there for more than a hundred years poking up above the earth filling with rainwater, insulated by the ground from the freezing weather, and it never cracked....

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