Learn about Farmington area pottery from centuries ago

Published 10:02 am Thursday, November 12, 2015

A program titled “Potter Bill and the Huntsville School of Potter,” will be held on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Davie County Public Library.

The guest speaker is Dr. Steve Compton, a scholar and collector of North Carolina pottery. The presentation is sponsored by the Davie County Historical and Genealogical Society and the library.

Compton (Steve) is a native of Alamance County, born in Burlington in 1950. He resides in Raleigh following his retirement as a long-time employee of the N.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church. In his last position before retirement, he was district superintendent for the Sanford District. Before that, he served for many years as executive director for the conference’s Office of Congregational Development where he was responsible for starting new churches, congregational growth training, and leadership development.

Compton holds degrees in anthropology and theology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Duke University, and Emory University.

Compton’s interest in North Carolina pottery collecting began in 1974 when his role as photographer for the Mebane Enterprise Journal newspaper led him to Jugtown Pottery and others in the Seagrove region. He purchased his first pottery at Jugtown, and since then has become a leading collector of historic utilitarian and art pottery made in the state.

Compton has a special interest in potters who resided in southern Yadkin County and northern Davie County, including three members of the James family who lived in Huntsville and in an area north of Farmington once referred to as Jamestown.

William Franklin James, known in the community and to family members as “Potter Bill,” will be the subject of the talk. It will accompany an exhibit of James’ family pottery that will be available for viewing in November.

Persons attending the event are invited to bring along locally made and found pottery (especially James family examples) for identification. The region’s potters, some of whom were active at their trade more than two centuries ago, include members of the Bohannon, Brewbaker, Vestal, Ritchie, Jones, Myers, and Hill families, as well as others.