settle the backcountry
The first English settlers lived along the North Carolina coast. About
100 years later they begin to move inland to the backcountry. The backcountry
is the area where the Piedmont meets the Coastal Plains. At the same
time groups of Scotch-Irish and Germans followed the Great Wagon Road
and settled in the backcountry.
mild climate, good farming soil, and cheap land prices made the backcountry
a good place to settle. The settlers found the land had good deposits
of clay. They used the clay to make pots, jugs, and crocks for use on
the farm and in the house. Towns with stores were rare, so the settlers
had to make most of the things they needed for everyday life.
Moravians of Salem
In 1753 the Moravians came to the backcountry. They were a group of
Germans who formed a religious community called Wachovia. The Moravians
established the town of Salem. This is now part of the present-day city
The Moravian community included many talented craftsmen. Craftsmen are
people who are skilled at making useful items. One of the most talented
of the Moravian craftsmen was the potters. The potters made and sold
all types of beautiful and useful objects.
New methods of making pottery
Potters were always experimenting to make better products. They would
try different mixtures of clay and methods of glazing and firing. In
the early 1800s, potters found a type of clay that could be used to
make stronger pottery. This new type of pottery was called Stoneware.
Because stoneware pottery was hard and did not break easily, potters
could make larger vessels. They also could transport their products
longer distances for sale and trade.
veins of clay were found in the Catawba valley and around the small
town Seagrove. By the mid-1800s, these two areas had turned into pottery
centers with a thriving stoneware business.
Creek trading center
As the population grew through the early 1800s, more people needed pottery.
Many people in the Piedmont purchased from potters in the backcountry.
Others bought pottery imported from Europe or the North. The town of
Cross Creek became a trading center for the Coastal Plain.
A variety of goods were imported from England and traveled up the Cape
Fear River. Items such as fine English china were available at general
stores in Cross Creek.
Bird & Fish Potter
small factory started making pottery in Cross Creek. A prominent potter
by the name of Chester Webster and his two brothers moved to Cross Creek
from Connecticut to work in the pottery. The Websters were known for
their pottery decorated with birds and fish. Today, 150 years later
only a few dozen of their beautiful vessels exists.