Gann Goods: Saline County and Pottery

After the Civil War ended in 1865, many potters came to this part of Saline County. Between 1868 and 1898, there were as many as a dozen potteries in Benton. Locally made and world famous Niloak pottery was discovered in 1912 by Charles “Bullet” Hyten. While most potters made more functional items like flower vases, crocks, jars, and planters, occasionally they made some unusual things as well. 

On September 9, 1878, 15-year-old C.C. Salyer and his sister died in Benton during an epidemic while their family was making their way through Arkansas to Texas on the Military Road. The children were hastily buried at Lee Cemetery. The CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas says that in 1878 and 1879 southern cities were devastated by an epidemic of yellow fever. This is very likely what killed the Salyer children in 1878.

A local potter named Oliver C. Atchison made their gravestones. Atchison and his son Thomas formed a company together before 1900 in Malvern that was later purchased by the Acme Brick company in 1927.

The two markers were about 19 inches tall with a top opening nine inches high and a fitted “lid” on top. They were produced from local clay and hollow inside. At some point, the girl’s marker disappeared, but the boy’s marker lasted around 100 years at the cemetery. At some point, the boy’s marker was damaged possibly by careless mowing practices.

Benton historian Patrick Dunnahoo, who was instrumental in the creation of the Gann Museum, had the boy’s damaged marker added to our collection.