A Kirbee sherd on display in Montgomery at the Davis Pioneer Museum. I found more evidence than I could have hoped for, for Kirbee earthenware; Red clay bodied, low fired vessels.
There was so little to actually learn about the Kirbees and their pottery that I never felt the need to dig around. There were few identified pots and they were in university archaeological collections. I had seen the 1979 archaeological report, which read like the science project it was, where the investigators never really documented the answers to the kinds of things we are interested in, such as what color was the clay body/ What colors were the glazes? The report I had read was in black and white, and was kind of redundant and basic and was almost useless to collectors. But meanwhile, I had located a great old ovoid jar at Warrenton, and others agreed with me that it might have Kirbee characteristics. I had been hearing for years that there were Kirbee SHERDS on display in Montgomery. It was time to see them for myself. Recently I made a trip over to Montgomery to try to catch up, and what unfolded was nothing short of incredible. So anyway, this blog is dedicated to Mrs. Bessie Owen, to whom I once again find myself in debt!
This lime drooling, pregnant beast, attributed to Kirbee, can be visited at the Universtiy of Texas at San Antonio. The khaki color is deceiving... note the peachy tones where the chips on the rim reveal some important clues. Also the lumpy, unfinished throw rings... and the pulls, perfunctorily applied.
Some of the diversity in the Kirbee forms can be attributed to the differences between the pottery styles of the Landrum brothers of Edgefield. This John Landrum jar rim is identical to the sherd samples of the Kirbee's above.
Furthermore, it makes sense to me that the broken sherds found in the kiln floor were remnants of what was wrong with their process, so more khaki colored clay sherds tells us what failed.. . as the red clay worked and flew out the door to customers. Some of the vessels seem to made of a mixture of clays; More evidence of the scavenging and possible haste necessary to make stoneware.
Another tid-bit that came to me, something I learned from Blair's History of Grimes County; When my family came to Grimes County, we purchased land in the JOHN LANDRUM SURVEY. There was a John Landrum already in Montgomery County when the Kirbees arrived and his wife was related to Mary Davis! And quite possibly he was a cousin of the brothers Landrum in South Carolina... as all of them came originally from North Carolina, where the Landrum patriarchs were known as potters. This John Landrum had blazed the path for the Kirbees, passing through the South after a short stay in Alabama to purchase a league of land in the original Austin Colony, in south-central Montgomery County (later to become part of Grimes County). But Landrum did not stay in the area, and moved to the pottery center of Texas, at Rusk County. His very name and presence in two early Texas pottery producing areas seems an incredible coincidence, if he had nothing to do with the Landrum stoneware dynasty. Might he have been the carrier of that keyhole mark? Might there have been some kind of relationship early on at Montgomery, Texas, much like the one in South Carolina? Might this explain why the Kirbees came, and after some kind of break up, their struggles with the technical aspects of stoneware production? Perhaps.
The last we heard of the Texas John Landrum was his wife had passed away in 1850, and her Davis kin in Montgomery County were sent word.
160 years of wear.
Dang these pots get around! And sometimes they come home.