This challenge from Amy Johnson Crow was Working for a Living: September 7 is Labor Day in the United States. Write about an ancestor and his or her occupation.

The first Labor day Parade was held in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882 but it did not became an official federal holiday until 1894 when President Cleveland declared the first Monday in Sept. as “Labor Day”. This was a nod to the unions after more then a decade of organized strikes by industry workers to get better working conditions and a “livable wage”.

In my earlier blog on non-population census for Joseph Booth I noted that a skilled craftsmen working for my ancestor in the carriage making business on Staten Island in New York , was paid $2.00/day and an unskilled laborer received 75¢/day in wages in 1880.

Looking at my Paternal side of the family tree John R Batson was a Potter, working in Hopewell, Muskingum County, Ohio starting around 1850 at the age of 27. Hopewell is a small rural community in Ohio. When reviewing the Non-Population census in 1880 I found that there were 6 Pottery Companies: Peterson & Burley, Martin Fountain, James Stine, Asa Dake, Bogus Van Allen, and Z. & J.D. Van Allen . All of them employed at least one person and one as many as seven. REMEMBER TO CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

1880 Schedule 3 - Manufactures Hopewell Township, County of Muskingum State of Ohio
1880 Schedule 3 – Manufactures
Hopewell Township, County of Muskingum
State of Ohio

The salaries range from $1.25 to $1.80 /day  for skilled labor and 50¢ to $1.00/day for unskilled labor. Only three of the companies worked full time all year.

In the 1880 US Census John is renting his home. On the census we see John R. Batson’s next door neighbor is a James Peterson also a potter. Is this the Peterson of Peterson & Burley on the 1880 Non-Population census? Was this who John worked for? Looking further down the page is Martin Fountain also a potter and most likely the same one on the Non-Population census. We see that his two sons work for him in the shop and are the youths on the Non-Population census listing for Martin Fountains business.

1880 US Census Hopewell, Muskingum, Ohio
1880 US Census
Hopewell, Muskingum, Ohio

In the 1860 Non Population Census for Hopewell 16 pottery manufactures are listed and in the US Federal Population census 45 list their occupation as Potter.

1860 Non-Population Census Schedule 5 Hopewell, Muskingum Co., Ohio Transcribed Potters pg. 1
1860 Non-Population Census Schedule 5
Hopewell, Muskingum Co., Ohio
Transcribed Potters pg. 1


1860 Non-Population Census Schedule 5 Hopewell, Muskingum Co., Ohio Transcribed Potters pg. 2
1860 Non-Population Census Schedule 5
Hopewell, Muskingum Co., Ohio
Transcribed Potters pg. 2

Comparing the 1880 and 1860 Non Population census I noticed that John Burley (1860 census) is now Peterson and Burley (1880 census). While there are two young individuals with the last name Fountain listed as potters in 1860, they appear to be working for someone and by 1880 a company by the name of Martin Fountain is in business.  In 1860 there are two Allen’s listed as manufactures of stoneware and in 1880 there are no Allen’s but there are two Von Allen’s. The other two companies were not listed in the 1860 Non-Population census. Since we can assume that John R. Batson does not own his home possibly he moves around the area to live near where he is working. On the 1866 Plat Map for Hopewell Township, I found 3 Pottery’s shown within 2 miles of Mt. Sterling: Burley, Hughes, and Chappelear (was that Chapples on the schedule?). Hughes was not shown on the schedule.

Going back to 1850 US Census were John R. Batson is first seen as an independent household I found 18 Pottery companies in Hopewell township on the 1850 Non-Population census. While there were 51 individuals listed as Potters on the 1850 Population census in Hopewell Township.

Looking closely I noticed that the enumerator for this census noted the different villages. So those potters living in the village of Mt. Sterling including John R. Batson totaled 11. Of those pottery business’ in Mt Sterling I found John Brown, Mark Fountain, Samuel Colvine, and possibly Harrison German. The last may be a combination of two last names. John Brown and Mark Fountain both employed 4 individuals and Samuel Colvine employed 2, that leaves one unaccounted for. Harrison German employed 1. If proximity is any indication I would guess that John R. Batson works for John Brown, because they are next door neighbors. John’s brother William and his father William are also listed as potters in this census. William Jr. lives closer to Mark Fountain while William Sr. lives closer to John Brown on the Census but in really life I am not sure.

Looking at the 1866 County Plat Maps for Hopewell township we see the number of Pottery’s that are scattered around the country side. There must have been a great source for clay in this area and Potters were  thriving throwing stoneware before the American Civil War. Since only land owners for that date are shown I do not find John R. Batson on this map. However many of the Pottery business owners own multiple properties so he could be renting from his boss and when he changed companies he moved.  It looks like the industry declined dramatically after the war and by 1880 few pottery companies were left in the area. By 1892 John R. Batson has retired and he and his wife have relocated to Columbus Ohio where they live for a while with their son Edgar and then later their son Charles. John died 8 August 1901 at the age of 78.

There is definitely a field trip for me to visit Ohio and learn more about the Pottery industry in this area during John Batson’s life time.






5 thoughts on “52 Ancestors- John R. Batson- Potter

  1. I just recently bought property in the Mt Sterling/Hopewell area that as far as we know at this time has had two potteries on it. We currently have the only brick bottle kiln still left in the area. We are hoping to find out soon who owned the property prior to 1880. You are more than welcome to stay with us when you head this direction as our house is large. If you come in July there is also the Roseville/Crooksville Pottery Festival. Please feel free to contact me.

    1. Tina,
      You property sounds like an exciting historical purchase. Thanks for the invitation. When I make my plans to visit the area I would love to visit. I have yet to set up my own space for throwing pottery since our move a couple of years ago, I wish there was a pre-existing kiln on our property here we could retrofit. I will definitely want to check out all pottery festivals and museums in the your area while there plus the typical genealogical search locations.

  2. Ada, I came back to your page to do some follow up. (I needed details you had on your post.) I found that we bought the property that was Martin Fountains until he sold it in the late 1880s to another potter George Mehollin then in 1924 the property was sold to the Bauer family who also were potters. Louise Bauer did work for Disney, Hull, Shawnee and other potteries is in the area. Still no date on the kiln. I wasn’t sure if the email was visible

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