Handmade pottery, popular today for its decorative value and craftsmanship, is not the household necessity it was in Josiah Hannah's Day.

Josiah Hannah brought 20 years experience working in a Missouri pottery with him when he and his family came to Southern Oregon in 1862. The Hannahs bought a place near Shady Cove where they farmed, ranched and ran a ferry.

They also built a pottery and made utilitarian stoneware for early Rogue Valley residents.

Josiah and his son hauled wagon loads of clay and salt more than 20 miles to their ranch. They prepared the clay in shallow pits, then fashioned sturdy crocks, jugs, churns, pitchers, milk pans and more by hand on a kick wheel.

They fired the pottery in a walk-in kiln they built themselves and added salt to the fireboxes, creating a low-gloss finish in earthy brown, green and purple hues.

Until the railroad made mass-produced glass and tin ware more available, Hannahs' products were the main kitchen tools pioneer housewives used to preserve, prepare, and serve their family's food.

Once plentiful and commonplace, Hannah stoneware is rare today but quite collectable. A piece discovered in a dusty cellar would make a collector's heart sing.

Source: Ingram, Nancy, Jim Robinson, and Sue Waldron. "Pioneer Pottery: Wares for Southern Oregon Homesteaders," Table Rock Sentinel, September/October 1988, pp. 10-16.

— As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.