Pottery Clay historical marker
Wednesday, July 12, 2023

American’s First Kaolin Clay: The Cherokee Wedgwood Connection

Jul 12, 2023

Discover the history of early clay and mica mining in Western North Carolina, including a surprise ending, during a free program hosted by the Western Office of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Alexander (Alex) S. Glover Jr, PG, CPG, a professional geologist and the recognized authority on the Spruce Pine Mining District (N.C.), will be the featured speaker during this program on Saturday, July 22 from 2:30-3:30 p.m. It will focus on the history of early clay and mica mining in Western North Carolina near present-day Franklin and the pursuit of kaolin by Charleston planter Thomas Griffiths. Attendees will learn about this kaolin material and the mine in Macon County where it was excavated.

When Georgia potter Andrew Duche first made porcelain in 1739 from clay found in the Cherokee region of the North Carolina mountains, his art inspired others, including English potter Josiah Wedgwood, who commissioned Griffiths to obtain this “Cherokee clay,” or kaolin. Griffiths endured many hardships on his journey but delivered a five-ton shipment to Wedgwood in England in 1769.

This free program will take place at the Western Office of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resource at 176 Riceville Road, Asheville. To reserve a seat contact Angela Jervis at (828) 250-3101 or email angela.jervis@ncdcr.gov.  Learn more at https://www.ncdcr.gov/about/history/western-office.

The exhibit “Waking Rip Van Winkle: Gold, Mineral & Gem Mining in Western North Carolina” will be open and on display before and after the program. 

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) manages, promotes, and enhances the things that people love about North Carolina – its diverse arts and culture, rich history, and spectacular natural areas. Through its programs, the department enhances education, stimulates economic development, improves public health, expands accessibility, and strengthens community resiliency.

The department manages over 100 locations across the state, including 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, five science museums, four aquariums, 35 state parks, four recreation areas, dozens of state trails and natural areas, the North Carolina Zoo, the North Carolina Symphony, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, the African American Heritage Commission, the American Indian Heritage Commission, the State Historic Preservation Office, the Office of State Archaeology, the Highway Historical Markers program, the N.C. Land and Water Fund, and the Natural Heritage Program. For more information, please visit www.ncdcr.gov.

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