The Watering Hole

Melissa SandfortAgricultural Anthropology

I took a pottery class once in college. I think I made a coffee mug or an ash tray with the help of one of my artistic friends. That piece of clay wouldn’t mold if I willed it to.

But this piece of artwork was made to be both beautiful and functional. It’s a vintage whiskey jug or water jug. They’d hand-pump the cold water from the well into this jug, soak a burlap cloth in water and wrap it around to keep it cool, and take it out to the threshers in the field on a hot afternoon.

It’s from the Macomb Pottery company, incorporated in 1880, which eventually became Plant Number Three of Western Stoneware Co in 1906. The most recognizable stoneware they produced was the Cardinal brand of redware along with other specialty lines of stoneware and pottery. Facilities were sold in 1956.

I bet this jug has seen a lot of whiskey and water.

Until our next history lesson …