Anna Pottery, Union County, Illinois
Sample of Kirkpatrick Stoneware
cc: 1850 to 1890
THE KIRKPATRICKS OF ANNA
by Greg Mathis
Cornwall Kirkpatrick with brother Wallace, and father Andrew Sr., relocated to Anna from Mound City in the spring of 1859 and fired their first ware in November, 1859. This was an important chapter in the hand craft of the traditional Kirkpatrick potting family, and is most eloquently conveyed by Ellen Paul Denker in her comprehensive collegiate master's thesis, "Forever Getting Up Something New." A most interesting perception about the Kirkpatricks appears in her report's introduction "As with all artifacts, the study of pottery provides innumerable insights into the patterns of lives past and present, patterns of both makers and users. The complex interpretation necessary to understand the stoneware specialty products created by the Kirkpatrick brothers reveals the rhythm of life in Illinois during the late nineteenth century. Economic conditions, social movements, the local fauna, and important local, regional, and national events are reflected in their bizarre and delightful creations. Between 1859 and 1896 the brothers Cornwall and W. Wallace Kirkpatrick built and operated a large stoneware pottery in Anna, Union County, Illinois. Although they exhibited their wares at such important international exhibitions as the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876 and the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and at numerous local and regional fairs, their important contribution to the American pottery tradition has remained largely unrecorded in this century. Early works on American ceramics, principally those by Edwin Atlee Barber (1893), John Spargo (1926), Arthur Clement (1944), and John Ramsay (1947), provide the historian with virtually no facts about the Kirkpatricks and their business. Ramsay does include the brothers in his list of potteries, but the information is inaccurate and far from complete. Apparently Ramsey did not read the unfolding story of the Kirpatricks' Anna Pottery which was published in five installments in the Editor's Attic of Antiques magazine during the 1930's. Although the first example of Anna pottery published in the twentieth century appeared in the April, 1933 issue, it was not until the November, 1938 issue that the mystery of the location of the Anna Pottery was solved with publication of the inscribed jug in the New York Historical Society.An article published in 1943, Art in Southern Illinois, 1865-1914, records some of the Kirkpatrick products, but it was 1974 before a thorough essay reconstructing the history of the Anna Pottery appeared. As new pieces have come to light, interest in the Kirkpatricks has increased, but no endeavor has heretofore been made to consider the historical and sculptural products of the brothers within the context of the American pottery tradition.Locating records of the Anna Pottery has been difficult. Despite several independent attempts their daybooks and personal records have not been found. The site of the pottery cannot be archaeologically excavated because it is currently occupied by two commercial buildings and completely covered over with blacktop. Although there were at least three photographers working in Anna during the period, including one of Cornwall's sons, only two photographs are known that relate to the pottery. Census information, where available, was helpful in this study. Union County land records were useful in sorting out problems of land ownership and management, and county histories, though not always reliable, outlined the lives of the potters. The most important primary sources were two locally published newspapers the Jonesboro Gazette and the Farmer and Fruit Grower. The pages of both are filled with news, anecdotes, and descriptions of the principal characters of this study, as year after year reporters captured their activities, accomplishments, and personalities. The enthusiastic hyperbole these journalists often employed breathes life into the shadowy figures of the past and allows us to meet Cornwall and Wallace as they stood among their contemporaries.Today, the Kirkpatrick brothers are best known for the eccentric and humorous novelty wares they made as a sideline to their regular business of utilitarian crockery. I have discovered that the Anna Pottery was also important during the period as the principal producer of stoneware containers and reed stem tobacco pipes in mid America.Among other various Midwestern industries, the Kirkpatricks business had a role in developing the economy of the region. In Chapter 1 I trace the backgrounds of Cornwall and Wallace Kirkpatrick before they settled in Anna in 1859. Chapter 2 is a history of their enterprise at Anna and a discussion of the relationship between the Anna Pottery and other Midwestern potteries. In Chapter 3 I explore the personalities, interests, and characters of the brothers. Finally, Chapter 4 is devoted to the extraordinary pottery they produced. Through the extension of ancient and historic European pottery traditions the Kirkpatricks produced novel stoneware forms and decorations that reflect their own time, place, and unique talents." In addition to the actual sale of outstanding kaolin fire clay, a vast array of stoneware and whimsical folk art was produced at their pottery in Union County, Illinois. As stated in Mrs. Denkers thesis, Forever Getting Up Something New, "Cornwall and W. Wallace Kirkpatrick were quite literally born into the American pottery tradition. Their father Andrew was a potter, born in Washington, Washington County, Pennsylvania, in 1789. He was married and had moved to Fredericktown, Knox County, Ohio, before 1814, the year of Cornwall's birth. By 1820, the family had moved again, this time to Urbana, Champaign County, Ohio, located north of Cincinnati. In Urbana, Andrew operated a small earthenware pottery and produced approximately $1800 worth of all kinds of potters ware, annually. Andrew and Ann (Lefevre) Kirkpatrick had thirteen children. Of their ten sons, five became potters with their own potteries and four died relatively early in life. Pottery was more than a family tradition, it was a family passion. According to Cornwall's biography in the Union County (Illinois) history, he left the common schools of Ohio at the age of twelve to apprentice as a store clerk and bookkeeper, probably in Cincinnati. After seven years, he returned home and learned the trade of potter with his father, remaining about one year, and mastering the business before the year expired. He then spent several months working on the flatboats that piled the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers from Cincinnati to New Orleans for the purpose of "seeing the country" and though receiving but $10 per month, felt well repaid in the strange sights which met his view.Illness sent him back to Urbana, where he went into the pottery business for himself in 1837. He probably took over his father's shop, because in that year Andrew, his wife, and those children still at home (including Wallace, born in 1828) moved to Vermillionville, LaSalle County, in northern Illinois. There Andrew took over a pottery begun several years earlier by John Kirkpatrick (b. 1812 - d.), another son. In 1839, Cornwall left Urbana for Covington, Campbell County, Kentucky, and married Rebecca Vance of Cincinnati. At Covington, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, he operated a pottery until 1848. He also served two terms on the city council, probably the first of the many public officer Cornwall would hold. His first wife died in 1847, leaving him two children. By 1849, he was back in Ohio. This time he chose Point Pleasant, Clermont County, southeast of Cincinnati along the Ohio River, where he was able to buy a pottery from Sarah Lakin on April 2, 1849. This same year he married Amy Vance, Rebecca's sister, and bought the cabin in which Ulysses S. Grant had been born. About half of Cornwall's production at the Point Pleasant site was reed stem tobacco pipes, while the other half was utilitarian wares, jars, bowls, pie plates, jugs, firebrick, and flue pipe. In 1850, with four employees, he was producing 35,000 gallons of ware valued at $2,450. Pipes made at Point Pleasant have received some attention in the archaeological literature because of the variety of pipe designs produced, as well as the sheer volume of pipes turned out over the years. Little is known, however, about the shapes and decorations of the container wares made there between c. 1838 and 1890 under at least four different ownership's. Two shards collected from the surface of the Point Pleasant site are evidence that Cornwall made salt-glazed stoneware at that time since one is signed "C. KIRKPATRICK [sic] PT. PLEASANT." Wallace arrived from Vermillionville in 1849 to learn the pottery trade from his brother, but his stay in Point Pleasant was short. He joined the gold rush to California in 1850, arrived in Cincinnati in 1852, married, another Vance sister, Martha, and returned to northern Illinois for a brief period. Though the pottery at Point Pleasant was destroyed by fire in 1851, Cornwall rebuilt it and continued working there until about 1854. While still owner of the property in Point Pleasant, he established a pottery on Fulton Street in Cincinnati in 1854. This may have been short-lived; although he is identified as a potter in the Cincinnati city directory of 1856, his pottery, listed in 1855, is not included in the directories lists of potteries for succeeding years. His business may not have flourished, but politically he was active. While in Cincinnati he served on the City Council and the Committee on Public Improvements. During Cornwall's residence in Cincinnati, the Emporium Real Estate and Manufacturing Company was organized by Paul K. Wambaugh, John Fawcit, and John R. Gabriel, as a joint-stock association for obtaining a foothold in Mound City, Pulaski County, Illinois, which had been laid out in 1854 by General Rawlings. As a contemporary historian observed, none of the above gentlemen had a dollar at the time, to gain a foothold anywhere; however, they surrounded the organization with the mystery of secrecy. They gave out that a secret city was Emporium. The city was to be grander than all the cities built since the downfallof ancient Rome. The imaginary gold streets of the New Jerusalem were to be duplicated in the Emporium City the name given to this forty mile square city on paper. Cornwall must have been taken in by this group, because late in 1857 he built a three-story pottery for the production of stoneware in Mound City. Wallace and Andrew joined him there, but may not have invested money in the project. The Mound City Pottery, managed by a manufacturing company, was supposed to be a large operation employing steam instead of horse power for grinding clay and for operating the potters wheels, but through financial mismanagement of the parties who handled the funds, [it] proved to be an unfortunate venture. Indeed, Cornwall lost his shirt. In the Census taken at Anna, Wallace's personal estate was valued at $8000, while Cornwall's was listed at only $150. Surface collection of shards at the Mound City site indicates that pipes were a big production item there as they had been at the Point Pleasant site. Little is known of the other wares produced during the potterys brief period of operation. One surviving object In Anna the Kirkpatrick brothers built the most successful of their many pottery operations. During their early peregrinations, they saw some of the country, overcame the difficulties involved in stoneware production, and established themselves as major Midwestern producers of reed stem tobacco pipes. Their movements prior to the Anna period have been ascertained more from a variety of written documents than from archaeological material. The few extant wares from these early years only hint at the scope of their production. More will need to be learned about this period before the shapes and designs of the utilitarian and specialty wares produced at Anna can be fully understood." Indeed, Mrs. Ellen P. Denker's efforts and comprehensive work shall be appreciated for generations to come.
Anna Pottery Cherrub Garden Urn Ad in The Fruit Grower
Sample of Kirkpatrick Storage and Shelf Jar/Churns bearing cobalt Quill Mark Decoration
Decorated Spaniel Doorstop
Packing Receipt for Penningrath Shrieber Bros, Red Bud, Ill June 21, 1881
(note vessels, pipes and hanging basket depicted on left)
Saltglaze Anna Hanging Flower Basket with elaborate cobalt filled Incised decorations and finger weld applications .
Ornate Finger Applied "pedals " at base (depicted in above Schrieber Bros receipt),
a typical characteristic of known Kirkpatrick cemetery vases, Cherrub Garden Urns, and
Anna stoneware hanging flower baskets.
Note typical vertical hand "cut" decorative verticle lines from rim
and cobalt filled incised decorated breese wave .
Listed: Stoneware, Plower Pots, Drain tile, Hanging Basket,
Sewer Pipe, Garden Vases, Tobacco Pipes, Etc, Etc.Etc.
To and Fro' The Hot Springs
By Greg Mathis
The Arkansas Railroad & River Guide Pig Flask and Snake Jug.
by The Texarkana Pottery, cc: 1874
Several varieties of snake jugs and pig flasks were produced in the last third of the Nineteenth Century by the Anna Pottery, Union County, Illinois, and their contemporary potteries like the Texarkana Pottery that bear Kirkpatrick influences. Few have survived the test of time and are much treasured novelty ware and considered classic American folk art. Each creation generates high intrigue and mystery for the passionate student of ceramics, invites the tasking analysis of national and local historians, and usually deserves placement on the very top shelf in both private and museum collections. Being individually hand sculpted, each is unique. Each is admired.
Quite scarce are salt glazed vessels bearing cobalt filled inscriptions, applied manganese dabbing adornments, and finely sculpted features. Local folklore conveys one distinguishable script trait and a gifted modeling talent that is easily attributed to the life-like reptile figures as the work of Wallace Kirkpatrick's hand. Another distinctive stylish handwriting, lines, and inscriptions, are easily identifiable as those of Wallace's brother, Cornwall Kirkpatrick. Quite uncommon is the application of two decorative colors, cobalt blue and tobacco spit brown, to a given figure as found in the Texarkana Pottery Arkansas snake jug and the Texarkana Pottery Arkansas "Railroad & River Guide" pig flask that bear a hand writing script style clearly different than that of either Wallace or Cornwall.
The Arkansas pig and snake forms are evidently by the hand of a different sculptor, though both figurals hold the strong influence of the Kirkpatrick Anna Pottery concept. Upon close inspection of styling, one finds that the Texarkana Arkansas pig's hooves and genitals vary greatly from known Anna Pottery pig hooves and genital style traits), though both pottery pig flasks possess similar shape traits of the nose, ears, tail, general body form situated in a reclining position, and a flask spout at pig's rear. Another odd difference is displayed by the Anna Pottery pig sculptor taking the pains and extra step of marking towns inscribed on a railroad route more precise with a dot or circle by the town on the route. This dot or circle application does not appear on any routes inscribed on Texarkana Railroad and River Guide pig flasks, nor do any witty inscribed slogans. The underside of Anna Pottery flasks often bear a praising inscription to an important city "Cincinnati the Ancient Porkopolis." The underside of the Texarkana Pottery flasks are simply inscribed "Hot Spring," possibly signifying hot pee shooting from the pig's genital that proved the fact there are more than one Hot Springs. Texarkana pig hooves are plain Anna Pottery pig hooves are more elaborate and bear only cut lines for detail. with finely sculpted parts of each hoof. The Texarkana Pottery pig genital Anna Pottery pig feature genitals that are parts bear a single incised cut line. more shapely and often bear inscriptions. Snake jug features differ greatly while featuring a Texarkana type frog that lacks the life-like spine and back detail of Wallace Kirkpatrick's Anna Pottery frog sculpting traits. Unlike Wallace's frog elongated foot edges, the Texarkana frog foot features an odd squared-off sharply cut edge with cut toe lines that are different. The Texarkana snake's head appears more cobra-like, varying from Wallace's more angular cotton mouth-like head style feature. The Texarkana snake jug bears one of its snakes consuming a frog (no underlying symbolism), while frogs on marked Anna snake jugs are never consumed and positioned "riding on" or "constricted by" the snake's body. The Texarkana snakes are disproportionately fat in sections and bear an incised skin cross hatch design different from Wallace's Anna Pottery life-like skin pattern. Wallace's vipers are sculpted in a more passive (tempting the liquor drinker) and/or a more aggressive posture (signifying danger or warning to the drinker) than Texarkana snakes appear.
Possibly the modeller of these Arkansas creations once worked at the Anna Pottery and moved on, once visited the Anna Pottery operation and observed Wallace at work, or the Texarkana Pottery modeller held very close ties to the Kirkpatrick brothers. The wild theory of this writer suggests a connection of the fact that a older Kirkpatrick brother, John Kirkpatrick, relocated to Texas in the 1870's to him becoming somehow involved and to directly or indirectly inspire these creations of the Texarkana Pottery. Another sound scenario exists among several distinguished Anna Pottery authorities that the pig flask and snake jug creations were actually produced by the Anna Pottery, being commissioned by an Arkansas source.
While an Albany slip pig flasks inscribed "Send with full instructions / to the Cincinnati Convention / by Texarkana Pottery," and small jugs marked "Little Brown Jug / Texarkana Pottery / by Jacob" are known, any specific detail about the actual Texarkana Pottery is virtually nonexistent in federal and state census, industrial, and manufacturing records sources. This causes "the" Texarkana Pottery mystery. Some hold the not farfetched notion that Texarkana Pottery's existence is a mere hoax or prank of the Anna Pottery. For instance, the marked Texarkana Pottery pig inscription referencing the "Cincinnati Convention" coincides with Cornwall's and Wallace's strong ties to Cincinnati. All theories eagerly seek any securing data to pin down the exact Texarkana Pottery kiln site location and any historical and manufacturing information about the Texarkana Pottery. This welcomes relative newspaper editorials or atlas biographical descriptions. Thus, the mystery continues.
Very intriguing about both these Texarkana figurals is the significant connection of the inscribed towns and scrolling rivers to the real development of Midwestern America and the State of Arkansas. A Midwest "guide" appears on both the jug and the flask, and depicts the simple trails and short cuts that signify the passage by horse, wagon, stagecoach, rail car, and riverboat, and here nurtured was an Arkansas history of grandest magnitude. This history and mapping comprise the Overland US Mail Stagecoach/Rail Route, Diamond Joe Riverboat Routes, and the Malvern Narrow Gauge Rail to Hot Springs. The Hot Springs was a key location for the mineral baths, and many people travelled for the medicinal cures of the water.
Based on the number of signed and dated whimsies that have survived the test of time, potters like Kirkpatrick frequently took the additional step of applying inscriptions, dating, and prominently markings, such as "From The Anna Pottery," "By the Texarkana Pottery," and "Trinity Springs Pottery." Often, witty Kirkpatrick slogans addressed important events of the last half of the Nineteenth Century, especially in the 1870s and1880s. When a whimsy displays no date, a date can be tied the timeframe of the known event depicted. For instance, dates can be deduced from the date of a given political issue or election result, social/religious statement, great national/state/local historical event, and recorded commerce. Such commerce includes the small "Dealer in Wines and Liquors," to the Chicago "Corn Capitol," and the Cincinnati "Porkopolis." Pig flask and frog ink well whimsies commonly bear either the inscribed date of "1882" or "1883." The Texarkana snake jug and pig flask bear clear clues to dating, as the Eads Bridge was completed in 1876 at St. Louis, and the rail to Hot Springs from Benton was completed in 1876. Neither, the Eads Bridge nor a railroad name is depicted on the Arkansas snake jug or pig flask, thereby suggesting these figurals were made prior to 1876, or early 1876. Conversely, Anna pigs that bear no date, but do feature the Eads Bridge at St. Louis, indicate that the pigs that were made after 1875, as the Eads Bridge was completed in 1875. In the case of the Texarkana Pottery, it is apparent that these Texarkana whimsies were not presentation items, as no name or event inscription appears. Noteworthy, the one side of the jug displays only cross hatch marks of cobalt decorations with center dots that exemplifying the known Kirkpatrick habit of "busy work" (no blank spaces) with cross hatching decorations to an area that would have otherwise been left blank. These admirable vessels certainly achieved their intended purpose to drum new business, or serve as novelty art gifts to a person with strong Arkansas interests.
Prior to 1876, a stagecoach route existed to Hot Springs from Benton, making travel very hard on the sick. The rail was a Godsend. Regarding the most southern reference point of the city of Cairo on Anna pottery, one must realize that great amounts were produced for the local utilitarian use of within a radius of 100 miles of Anna, and unlike other great clay sources in Illinois that relied on the available modes of transpiration of wagon, waterway and railway, the Anna pottery had better access to the great railways and major rivers. The major interstate highways of the 1870's were the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, and the Arkansas rivers. These modes of transport sent their wares and raw clay to markets in an expanded radius of several Midwestern states in all directions. Clay mining was a major fire clay business and kaolin was highly sought by the white ware china makers of Ohio and eastern regions. Utilitarian wares were shipped to many outside markets and whimsical items accompanied them as an effective means of showing off their talents and quality of clay. The Kirkpatricks created humor and received admiration. They made their viewer/customer think, laugh, comment, react, and of greatest importance, remember. For decades they executed this most effective sales marketing tactic.
Stagecoach/Rail Mail Route
A clear sketch is drawn on each vessel by the hand of the potter that entails major Overland hubs of this fragment of the Southwest OMC run. The main hub can be considered Little Rock, Arkansas: North to Poplar Bluff and St. Louis; East to Memphis, South to Benton, Malvern, and Hot Springs; and West to Fort Smith. Noteworthy, also, is the major hub at Poplar, Bluff Missouri, serving a major junction between St. Louis to the North,
Memphis to the East, and Little Rock to the South. These were the key traces for all land modes of travel, by horse, wagon, stage, or rail. The Overland Mail Company was organized in 1857 by John Butterfield of New York who had negotiated a contract with the U.S. post office department to carry all letter mail from St. Louis and Memphis to San Francisco. The government agreed to pay $600,000 a year for 6 years for this service. The total mileage from St. Louis to San Francisco, exclusive of the Memphis branch, was about 2800 miles. The contract provided for twice-a-week service "in good four-horse post-coaches or spring wagons." these coaches were made in New York and New Hampshire, and cost $1400.00 each. They were painted red, green, and yellow, bore the O.M.C. insignia, carried nine passengers. Most of the drivers were from the New England states, where they had served apprenticeship on other stage routes with which Butterfield was connected. The Overland Mail had nearly 2000 employees. Passenger fare from St. Louis to San Francisco was $200.00. Drivers also picked up "way passengers" between stations who paid .10 cents a mile. Passengers were allowed 40 pounds of baggage free. The postal rate was .10 cents a letter. The Overland Mail operated on a time-table schedule. The average rate of travel was 120 miles every 24 hours. Part of the route in Arkansas from Strickler (elevation 1560 feet) the Overland Mail road wandered down a narrow and rocky trail ten miles to the crossing of Lee's Creek. It is this ten-mile stretch that drew such comments as the Postmaster General's 1858 Report: "It is impossible that any road could be worse"; and the New York reporter's, "I might say the road was a steep, rugged, jagged, rough and mountainous and then wish for more impressive words."
Hiram Rumfield, an employee of the Overland Mail Company, wrote to his wife in Ohio: "No one who has never passed over this road can form any idea of its bold and rugged aspect. It winds along the mountainside over a surface covered with masses of broken rock, and frequently runs in fearful proximity to precipitous ravines of unknown depth. Over such a route as this the coaches of the mail company are driven with fearful rapidity... The stage reels from side to side like a storm-tossed bark, and the dim of the heavily ironed wheels in constant contact with the flinty rock, is truly appalling. The man who passes over this route a passenger in one of the Overland Mail coaches without experiencing feelings of mingled terror and astonishment must certainly be oblivious to every consideration of personal safety." Where they crossed the Arkansas River at Van Buren, the OMC first used a flat boat resembling a raft, but in 1860 there was a ferry "propelled by two horses walking around a sort of treadmill, or nearly horizontal wheel, communicating motion to the paddles."
The first west-bound mail left St. Louis on the morning of September 16, 1858 and arrived in San Francisco twenty-four days later---on the morning of October 10th. The first east-bound mail left San Francisco on September 14th and arrived in St. Louis on October 9th. President John Butterfield of the Overland Mail Company's slogan was: "Remember boys, nothing on earth must stop the United States mail!" (City of Poplar Bluff, Missouri Historic Preservation Commission, Julie Wolpers: dba Webcurrent Communications, 2006).
Joseph Reynolds, a very young and successful entrepreneur in the East, taught school, peddled meat, and operated a flour mill. He soon traded the mill for a tannery, and in 1856, he moved his tannery business from New York to Chicago. By 1862, he owned four boats making their way up and down the Mississippi river, busily collecting hides and grain from every port from St. Paul to St. Louis. Late in life, Reynolds wrote "It was when I was a comparatively young man, about a hundred years ago, and I had been in the tannery business back east. I came to Chicago to engage in the business of trading in pelts. One spring I was on a trip into the northwest and when I bought furs and skins I packed them in boxes and just at random made rough diamond on the outside and signed with J.R. The next day I found that another young fellow also was using J.R., so I changed my R to an O just because it was the easiest way to do it. I did a great deal of business and people began calling me `Diamond Jo'. When I built my line of Mississippi River steamers I named it "The Diamond Jo line."
Jo Reynolds was a very good-natured man. His entire life was devoted to helping others and making good business. Jo seemed to prosper at whatever he set his mind to doing. One day a passenger aboard one of Reynolds' ships, the Mary Morton, named for his wife, stopped to chat for a while with a carpenter who was repairing a window sash. Before leaving the ship, the passenger complimented the captain on the character of his employees and mentioned his pleasant surprise at finding such intelligence, courtesy and wealth of information as possessed by the handyman. "Yes, he is right sharp," the captain replied. "Most any trip you'll find him puttering around with his kit of tools, the most unassuming person aboard. He is Jo Reynolds and he owns this ship as well as a half-dozen more just like it." In 1874, "Diamond Jo" made his way to Malvern from St. Louis where he would travel by carriage to the healing waters of Hot Springs. He suffered from painful attacks of rheumatism and arthritis. The carriages and the bumpy mountain roads were very uncomfortable for him and other ailing passengers, but there was no railway into Hot Springs at the time. He foresaw a great business in providing a comfortable means of transportation to Hot Springs. (The written memories of Mr. W. W. Beeson, Sr., written about 1940).
Malvern Narrow Gauge Rail to Hot Springs
Prior to 1875, people travelled by stagecoach, covered wagons, ox teams, and horses. When the railroad was in working order, merchants began to move near the modern transportation. The "Diamond Jo" railroad was built by Joseph Reynolds and transported travellers to and from Hot Springs, Arkansas. Reynolds practically sank his entire fortune into the building of his 36 inch wide narrow gauge railroad. Construction began in the spring of 1875. By July 3, 1875, the grading and trestle work was completed on the first six miles out of Malvern. On July 27, Colonel R. A. Thornton was awarded the contract for construction of all the depots between Malvern and Hot Springs. On January 25, 1876, the narrow gauge Diamond Jo Hot Springs Railroad was completed. The eleven-car trains ran twice a day; eight freight cars, one baggage and express combined, and two fine passenger coaches. They rolled briskly along behind a beautiful little 2-4-0 locomotive with a diamond stack, an oil-burning headlight nearly as large in diameter as the front of the smoke box, and a long wooden pilot. According to the Dec. 13, 1911 issue of the Times-Journal, Mr. W. W. Beeson, Sr. wrote "Jo's line, known as the `Diamond Jo Line' was relatively inexpensive with a cost of 10 cents per mile or $2.50 from Malvern to Hot Springs (the stage coach ride had cost $6). It was a beautiful train, "...with its engine liberally banded in polished brass, and its cab curtains of soft silk and cushions of red plush. The small coaches were fitted out with the same luxury..........……many notables from the highest walks of life travelled this road" This was the only railroad into Hot Springs for decades. This added much to the interest of Malvern. Shops and houses were built and many men called into service on this line." Original inhabitants of Hot Spring County were Native Americans, trappers, hunters, farmers and a few criminals who had escaped across the Mississippi River. The Cairo & Fulton Railroad, linking Cairo, Poplar Bluff, and Benton, laid out the town site of Malvern in 1870. Some of the settlement's first businesses were dry goods stores, a ten-cent store, and a saloon. Later more businesses and saloons were opened. Due to the saloon's "shoot-up" episodes, Malvern held a reputation of being one of the roughest areas in Arkansas. Thus, the
appropriate positioning of the Malvern rail inscription at the hogs rear end. This might well be a paradox of the modeller's inscription, placing Malvern the end of the line, the bottom tier socially, or your last stop alive before taking the treacherous ride on the short rail. A traveller might be shot or just find their world come to "the end" on this dangerous pass. Many found the Hot Springs worth the gamble. On October 15, 1878, Malvern officially became the county seat of Hot Spring County. (The Arkansas Gazette, "Malvern has many natural advantages." Oct. 28, 1907 ).
Poplar Bluff Missouri hub; North to St. Louis; South to Little Rock. Poplar Bluff also had two mainline railroads, the Frisco and the Missouri Pacific. The latter was originally the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and Southern Railroad and in 1872 was the first railroad completed through Poplar Bluff. The rail line runs north and south out of Poplar Bluff to St. Louis and Little Rock Ark. Due to rail connections, Poplar Bluff became a center for the shipment of wood related products and wheat, cotton and corn grown in the area. The St. Louis, Iron Mountain, Southern Railroad merged with the Missouri Pacific in. 1917. The railroad built a roundhouse on the property joining the depot and all servicing of the trains on this route was done here. This brought a large number of railroad employees into the town as well as furnishing employment to others who already lived here.
The second "main-line" in Poplar Bluff was the Frisco line. In 1901 the Southern Missouri and Arkansas Railroad built a line through Poplar Bluff and in the same year sold it to the St. Louis-San Francisco railroad, commonly known as the Frisco. This service ran from Hoxie, Ark., through Poplar Bluff to Cape Girardeau, opening up connections for smaller com-munities to major cities such as Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago and Kansas City. Unique for the Texarkana Pig flask is St. Louis inscribed at snout, with stage/rail line straight through forehead between ears, down middle of hogs back at shoulder to the first major hub of Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Line continues due south down hogs back to second hub of Little Rock, Arkansas at hips, and on to Southern destinations: Benton, Malvern and the Hot Springs, Arkansas. Important cut-offs appear from the hubs with travel from the East, down the Ohio River to Cairo, Cairo westward to Poplar Bluff, West from Memphis to the major hub of Little Rock, and East from Fort Smith also by passage of stage, rail, or riverboat off the Arkansas River to Little Rock. Travel "to" the Hot Springs was achievable by merely getting a means to reach St. Louis, Cairo, Memphis, or Fort Smith, and simply to reach a major hub. Likewise, and conversely, the traveller departs `from" the Hot Spring to Little Rock, if needed to Poplar Bluff, and on to anywhere. This becomes a most compass accurate guide "to and fro'" the Hot Springs. The north end of the pig representing north is the hog's nose, being St. Louis, Missouri. The south end is Malvern, Arkansas, being geographically and perhaps socially accurate in 1875. It seems that all points are reached through these two major hubs or their cut-offs.
Potteries like the Anna Pottery were driven to not only develop and expand their business, but to set themselves apart and to simply amaze their patrons and clients. The person being given any delightful whimsies must be impressed and grateful in order for the sculptor to be satisfied. Such being the person presented the Arkansas flask and jug might just be, become, or "know of" a potential business client for utilitarian stoneware or high quality mined clay. This person might have been a casual attendee to a special meeting or fair. Moreover, the simple intention of Kirkpatrick or a peer was to be highly respected, regarded, and most of all remembered for their wit, potting talent, and quality ware. This was an effective marketing strategy for their handcraft business. As published in the Jonesboro Gazette on September 18, 1875 "Kirkpatrick Brothers, the widely known pottery men say that the past year has been the peer of its predecessors in the way of demand for and supply of their wares. They make and sell 100,000 gallons of ordinary pottery ware, and a half million of pipes annually…. they have sent more clay from their pits at Kaolin than any former year. Good fortune and increasing wealth, the individual results of industry and good judgment attend this firm in all their undertakings." In a craft that was not the most highly regarded profession and very hard dirty work, the objective of most Nineteen Century potteries were to simply meet the basic expectations of their customers, some sought to exceed the expectations, only a few wanted to delight the customer with a good product and truly great service. Potters like the opportunistic Kirkpatricks went way above all with the sincere intention "to amaze" the customer with their sagacity and premium quality stoneware and clay mining. These Texarkana Pottery whimsies were much influenced and fully support the same intention of the Anna Pottery and the Kirkpatrick effective marketing strategy "to be remembered" as coming needs for stoneware or quality fire clay occur. These figurals are much more than conversation pieces; they were business card that became imbedded in the memory banks of past, current, future, and potential customers. Usually commissioned for giveaways, they were advertisements and promotions at the most effective degree. Today, they are classic American folk art.
These items are not easily forgotten as the user partakes in a sip of fine old bourbon with lifelike snakes at their face or a hog's rear and genitals on their lips. Anyone holding one of these whimsies and making the simple simulation of taking a drink might experience anxiety and well trigger an obsessive compulsive disorder. It is difficult to forget any occasion that evokes fright, dismay, disgust, challenge, dare, and consternation. To overcome this, the partaker might just have to take a real long sip with one eye on the vessel and with an odd expression on his face.
Often Kirkpatrick snakes appear to be entrapping a person, consuming a person's head (mind), and interacting with other snakes, frogs, and beetles. On the Texarkana Pottery snake jug Arkansas one viper have secures swamp frogs from its escape while another viper starts consuming a different frog. This might signify alcohol entrapment and validate the Kirkpatrick infamous position on temperance while posturing middle ground of both sides politically, socially, and ethically. Regardless of position, or interpretation, the person hitting this bottle too hard may become delusional and see these clay sculptured varmints take life. This heavy drinker becomes doomed and entrapped like the frogs, and in the tight grasp of alcoholism. These snakes can be viewed the server of good will, by giving a warning that danger lay within this jug. While consuming the contents in moderation of the jug to medicinally serve the common cold, over-consumption will ruin a drinker's well being and his entire life. The Texarkana Pottery pig flask holds a much smaller amount of fine "Old Bourbon" via the hog's rear, possibly signifying a call for moderation. There would have been many less deadly shootings in Malvern saloons had patrons drank less, remained less bold, and kept more in control of one's senses.
These incredible creations convey much about our nation's Midwest horse and wagon trails, rail hubs, and river travel, and connect us to Arkansas' rich history. This sculptor's ingenuity and talent earn our high esteem among great Nineteenth Century American folk art.
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Times-Journal, Dec. 13, 1911
Shortline Railroads of Arkansas. "Hot Springs Railroad"
The Arkansas Gazette, Oct. 28, 1907. "Malvern has many natural advantages."
The written memories of Mr. W. W. Beeson, Sr., written about 1940
City of Poplar Bluff, Missouri Historic Preservation Commission, Julie Wolpers
dba Webcurrent Communications
The Jonesboro Gazette, September 18, 1875
The Family, Kilns, and Stoneware of Kirkpatrick, work in progress, G. Mathis 2014