OGDENSBURG — The Ogdensburg Historical Commission has a new exhibit opening this month at the Ogdensburg Public Library. The exhibit will cover Hart Pottery.
City Historian Julie Madlin has done extensive research on the history of Hart Pottery and produced a video to go along with the exhibit.
A summary of Ms. Madlin’s research follows:
“Canal Fever and the growth of railroads led to the development of many industries. Ogdensburg’s location on the St. Lawrence River in addition to its relative closeness to the Erie Canal made it the perfect place to locate a pottery.
Hart Pottery began in Fulton in 1832 when brothers James and Samuel Hart built a kiln, which capitalized on the ease of procuring New Jersey Clay using the Erie Canal. James Hart sold his interest in the company in 1840, moving to Sherburne. Samuel Hart had a successful business in Fulton until his retirement in 1878. Sons, Charles and Elwyn Hart took over the pottery until it closed in 1895.
The construction of another canal led to the construction of another pottery by James Hart. This site allowed Hart to acquire Amboy clay, which was a favorite material to make pottery.
William Hart, son of Samuel was sent to Picton, Ontario to establish a kiln in 1849. Another son, Charles Hart established a third pottery in Ogdensburg in 1850 with partner Albert Lobdell, which was located on the south side of Montgomery St. near Morris.
Ogdensburg was the perfect location for a business at that time. It was located on the St. Lawrence River, which provided access to the markets in the west and was at the terminus of the Northern Railroad. The Ogdensburg site produced pottery for 8 years. At its peak,
Charles Hart’s kiln produced $7,000 of products and employed six men. Lobdell sold his rights to the business and left Ogdensburg in 1853.
In 1855 William Hart sold his interest in Picton and moved to Ogdensburg. Charles Hart returned to Sherburne in 1858, leaving William to operate the business. Joseph Hart, son of James, moved to Ogdensburg to help operate the pottery until William Hart’s death in 1869. By this time business had declined. Joseph Hart employed only one employee in 1865, then operated the kiln alone until 1873 when he took on a partner.
The Hart family made salt-glazed stoneware that was used for food storage. Hart Pottery located its kilns near abundant sources of salt, firewood, and clay. New Jersey clay was shipped up the Hudson River to the Erie Canal, then to the Chenango and Fulton Canals.
Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River were used to ship clay to Ogdensburg and Picton.
The pottery business was a difficult one. In 1860 William and Elizabeth Hart sold part of their interest in the business to Hiram and Caroline Davis. Hart repurchased the pottery in 1861. After his death in 1869 Joseph Hart, son of James, took over the business and briefly had a partnership with George N. Green. The pottery was consumed by fire in 1874 and did not reopen until 1877. Under the ownership of James Frederick Hart and Frank S. Hart, the pottery continued to operate until it finally closed in 1879.
After the Ogdensburg site closed, the other locations continued to produce pottery, but eventually, the mass production of tin and glass containers led to the demise of handcrafted stoneware. The Sherburne and Picton potteries closed in about 1885 and fire ended production at the original Fulton site.”
The video can be found at https://youtu.be/cccnCbEV6g