Potters’ role in the Civil War
When the Civil War began in 1860, most North Carolinians lived on farms. They grew their own food and made most of the things they needed. What they couldn't make, they bought or traded with merchants who imported goods from Europe or the North.

During the Civil War, Union solders blocked manufactured goods from getting into the hands of Southerners. Items made of metal like tin cups and pewter plates were especially hard to get. Carolina potters began producing "dirt dishes" for families and soldiers to use.

Potters also made many of the things needed by soldiers at army camps and in hospitals. One of the items potters made was clay ring jugs. These jugs may have been used by Confederate soldiers as canteens. The donut shape and the thick clay would help keep the water cool.

Potter's way of life changes after the war
After the Civil War, soldiers returned to their farms. Many farmers in the Piedmont and Coastal Plains began growing cotton. The new textile mills that began operating in the Piedmont needed more and more cotton. Because people were growing so much cotton, the price began to drop. Farmers received less money for their crops. Many had to sell their land and find jobs in the textile mills.

Some potters began making jugs and churns to supply general stores. Some of the jugs were used by the growing whiskey business. Moonshiners used jugs to store homemade whiskey. When laws were passed outlawing the making of whiskey, the market for jugs and churns dried up. Potters had to look for a new way to make money.