Texas Historical Commission


In July 1998, personnel from Archeological & Environmental Consultants volunteered one day to assist the Denton County Historical Commission in their investigation of the 1850-1880 Wilson-Donaldson stoneware kiln (41DN19) near Sharon Lake, Bryant Branch, and Hickory Creek in the upper Trinity River basin a few miles south-southeast of Denton, Texas. This is one of a number of 19th century stoneware potteries making saltglazed and natural clay slip vessels in Denton County, including the Cranston Pottery (41DN16), Roark Pottery (41DN18), Lambert Pottery (41DN74), and Serran Pottery (41DN75), all sites listed on the National register of Historic Places.

The kiln and associated archaeological deposits were in an area being proposed for private development, and it was considered imperative that as much archaeological information be gathered from the site before it was disturbed or destroyed; subsequently, the main kiln at the site (Feature 1) was dismantled—hopefully to be reconstructed in the future—while the remainder of the archaeological deposits were destroyed and removed.

During our short foray to the site, we produced a map of the various features at the site, including stoneware kilns, sherd waster piles, clay pits, and traces of structural remains in the vicinity of the other features. Drawings of the plan and vertical profile of Feature 1 were also completed at that time, along with surface collections of stoneware sherds from several features, supplemented with a few shovel tests to assess the character of the archaeological deposits and the excavation of a single 50 x 50 cm unit in the Feature 3 waster pile. In our work, we limited the recovery of artifacts to diagnostic rim sherds from the different vessel forms represented at the kiln, as well to any identified kiln furniture.

The stoneware sherds at the Wilson-Donaldson kiln are almost exclusively exterior salt-glazed jars, jugs, churns, and bowls. About 61 percent of the sherds we collected are from ca. 1840-1860 salt-glazed vessels that have a dry interior surface. Interior and exterior salt-glazed sherds are rare (3 percent) in the assemblage, but they are associated with pre-1860 stoneware manufacture. Thirty-six percent are sherds from saltglazed vessels with a natural clay slip interior. It is likely that these vessels were made between 1860-1880, based on Lebo’s (1987:Tables 8-9 and 8- 10) seriation of stoneware interior and exterior glaze types and combinations. One sherd (0.5 percent) has a natural clay slip on both interior and exterior surfaces, and is most likely from a vessel made between 1860-1880, although examples are known from pre-1860 contexts.

The Wilson-Donaldson kiln also manufactured clay elbow pipes along with stoneware vessels. None were recovered in our limited work at the site.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
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