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History of Uhl Pottery Company

by O. I. (Mockey) Lett

IN THE 1940’S WE HAD LABOR TROUBLE AND WERE ORGANIZED BY THE UNITED BRICK AND CLAY WORKERS. WHEN NO AGREEMENT COULD BE REACHED IN NEGOTIATIONS AFTER A LONG STRIKE MR. UHL, DECIDED TO CLOSE THE PLANT. THIS WAS DONE AND ALL MERCHANDISE WAS SOLD.

THE PLANT WAS THEN LEASED TO VOGUE POTTERY COMPANY FOR A PERIOD OF TIME AND LATER TO LOUISVILLE POTTERY COMPANY. I DO NOT KNOW WHEN THE PLANT WAS CLOSED FOR GOOD.

UHL POTTERY COMPANY

(1) MINING CLAY –

WHEN I STARTED WORKING AT UHL’S, THEY WERE MINING THEIR CLAY UNDER WHAT IS HOW HIGHWAY 64 AND STAND PIPE HILL. IT WAS A SLOPE MINE WITH A NARROW GAUGE RAIL LINE. THE LINE STARTED AT THE CLAY BIN AT THE PLANT AND EXTENDED BACK INTO THE MINE TO WHERE THE MINERS WERE WORKING. THE CLAY WAS SHOT DOWN WITH DYNAMITE AND LOADED ON SMALL DUMP CARTS. THE CARTS WERE PULLED FROM THE MINE TO THE CLAY BINS AT THE PLANT BY A MULE, WHICH WE CALLED OUR “MINE MULE”. ONE MINER WOULD DRIVE THE MULE TO THE PLANT AND DUMP THE CLAY WHILE THE OTHER MINER WOULD LOAD ANOTHER CAR. THE COAL WHICH WAS IN APPROXIMATELY A 1” TO 1-1/2” VEIN ABOVE THE CLAY WAS ALSO HAULED TO THE PLANT AND BURNED IN OUR BOILER. IT WAS A FAIR GRADE OF COAL AND HELPED OUT CONSIDERABLE IN KEEPING OUR BOILER GOING. WHEN THE CLAY UNDER STAND-PIPE HILL BEGAN TO RUN OUT IT WAS NECESSARY TO START PROSPECTING FOR ANOTHER SOURCE OF SUPPLY. A SUITABLE VEIN WAS FOUND ON THE MEISSNER FARM – SOUTHWEST OF HUNTINGBURG AND THE FARM WAS PURCHASED BY THE COMPANY. THE VEIN OF CLAY WHICH WAS OPENED WAS APPROXIMATELY 4” THICK AND HAD A 1-1/2” VEIN OF COAL OVER IT. MR. UHL ALWAYS CONTENDED THAT THE BEST CLAY WAS FOUND UNDER A VEIN OF COAL. THIS NEW MINE WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HILL FROM THE MINE, WHICH WAS OPERATED BY LOUISVILLE POTTERY COMPANY OF LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY. A SLOPE MINE WAS OPENED AND THE PROCESS OF MINING WAS THE SAME AS BEFORE WITH ONE EXCEPTION, THAT WAS – WE COULD NOT PULL THE MINE CARS TO THE PLANT. THEREFORE A TIPPLE WAS BUILT WHERE THE CLAY AND COAL WAS ACCUMULATED AND THEN HAULED TO THE PLANT IN A DUMP TRUCK AND DUMPED INTO THE CLAY BIN TO WEATHER BEFORE USING. OF COURSE, WE STILL USED THE MINE TO PULL THE CARS FROM WHERE THE MINERS WERE WORKING INTO THE TIPPLE. BY THE WAY – I WAS ALWAYS INFORMED THAT THE CLAY WE WERE USING WAS ONE OF THE FEW POTTERY CLAYS IN THE COUNTRY THAT COULD BE USED SIMPLY BY WASHING AND FILTER PRESSING FOR STONEWARE. MOST OF THE OTHER STONEWARE PLANTS HAD TO USE A BLEND OF SEVERAL DIFFERENT CLAYS.

 

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