Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Crooksville, Ohio ~ The Pottery Capital of the World

Crooksville, Ohio, a village of about 2500 that’s located in the picturesque hills southeast of the state capital, boasts the nickname of “Clay City.”

At one time, this tiny dot on the map also had the distinction of being proclaimed the Pottery Capital of the World. 

Not just the county or the state or even of the United States but the Pottery Capital of the World!

Let’s go back in time to the early 1820s when “Jacob Reed, a young and prosperous man from the East struck out looking for a company in which to invest his money and double his fortune” (Crooksville).

When a railroad came through the area in 1856, Mr. Reed’s investment in timber acreage had expanded to a lumber mill and farmland. He negotiated with the railroad to have a spur built from the main track which benefitted the growing community of nearby farmers.

Because clay was an abundant natural resource, many farms had their own kiln for producing everyday pottery such as cups, plates, and bowls. Though kilns are burning hot when fired up, the unheated buildings that housed them were ice cold during the winter.

Hull Pottery Mug
That's why pottery production began in the spring, about the time the bluebirds returned to the area, and ended in the fall, just about the time the bluebirds headed south for the winter. 

This rhythmic migration cycle inspired the term of “bluebird potteries” for these rural kilns.

Now let’s stop in 1870 ~ Joseph Crooks, owner of the local general store, petitioned the appropriate federal authorities for a post office to be known as Reed’s Post Office with himself as postmaster. The application was approved with one change.

Ohio, which became a state in 1803 (kinda, sorta—see below), already had a Reed’s Post Office. The bureaucrats suggested the new post office be christened Crooksville.

1944 Old Spice Advertisement
Joseph Crooks agreed!

Fast forward to the turn of the century. Ohio manufactures more pottery than any other state and most of that manufacturing occurred in Crooksville and the neighboring village of Roseville. That town’s nickname was Pottery Land.

The most prominent manufacturer was the still-famous Hull Pottery Company which was founded in 1905 by brothers Addis E. Hull and J.J. Hull. People still need pottery—dishes, bowls, pitchers—when times are tough, so the company managed to survive the Depression. It also survived a devastating flood and fire in 1950, rebuilding from the ground up.

The line expanded from functional pottery to more decorative pieces including vases and figurines. Even the old-time Old Spice containers were made by Hull.

The company eventually shut its doors in 1986, but its legacy lives on thanks to the efforts of The Hull Pottery Association. This group, based in Crooksville, is responsible for preserving the company’s heritage. Even today, almost 120 years later, the pottery is sought after by collectors.

Other pottery manufacturers also set up their factories in the Crooksville-Roseville area.

As one example, the Crooksville China Company opened in 1902, three years before Hull Pottery. It “specialized in producing top-grade semi-porcelain table products and kitchen items. Stinthal China, one of the company’s top lines, became a popular item because its semi-porcelain makeup was more durable than porcelain tableware, which chips easily and is more sensitive to temperature changes” (China).

This company also eked through the Depression, but financial difficulties forced its closure in the 1950s.

Though Crooksville and Roseville still proudly tout their nicknames, as they should, the pottery market isn’t what it used to be. But the historical legacy lives on in their annual Pottery Festival.

Since July 1966, the two villages have taken turns hosting the Crooksville-Roseville Pottery Festival. The tradition includes the creation of twelve specially designed plates. Ten are auctioned, one remains on permanent display, and the remaining plate is broken in the Festival’s celebratory opening ceremony.

I learned about the history of Crooksville and Hull Pottery while researching “The Potter’s Design,” a novella included in Love’s a Mystery in Crooksville, Ohio which was released by Guideposts earlier this year. Ohio is my childhood home, and I was thrilled to showcase a little of its unique history in my story.

Hull Pottery is so lovely ~ I owe huge thanks to Debora Dell Valle and Hull Pottery Association for sharing these photos with me so I can share them with you.

Bonus Trivia ~ Ohio is widely known to have been admitted to the Union as the 17th state in 1803. However, Congress never passed the formal resolution signed by then-President Thomas Jefferson. The oversight wasn’t discovered into 1953—as the state was celebrating its sesquicentennial (150th anniversary).

Ohio Congressman George H. Bender introduced a bill to retroactively admit the Buckeye State to the USA. The Ohio state legislature approved the new petition during a special session held in Chillicothe which was the state’s first capital (1803-1810).

President Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower signed the bill into law on August 7, 1953. This date is historically significant since it was the 164th anniversary of the Northwest Territory Act of 1789 (Green Papers). In addition to Ohio, the Northwest Territory includes Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the northeastern part of Minnesota.

Northwest Territory

Another bit of Ohio trivia ~ it's the only state with a non-rectangular flag.

Johnnie writes award-winning stories in multiple genres. A fan of classic movies, stacks of books, and road trips, she shares a life of quiet adventure with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. Visit her at

Photos (downloaded on June 8, 2023)
Sources (accessed June 6-8, 2023)

China ~ “Crooksville China Company History” by Meryl Baer; published on September 26, 2017 on the Bizfluent website.

Crooksville ~ “About the Village of Crooksville” on the Crooksville, Ohio website.

Green Papers ~ “Clearing up the Confusion surrounding Ohio's Admission to Statehood” by Richard E. Berg-Andersson; published on The Green website on January 17, 2007.

Hull Pottery Association Facebook Page

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