J. W. Town ___ Paris Potter of the Early 1870’s


The inscription of the above pottery jar is J. W. Town, Paris, Mo.

The 1876 Monroe County Atlas shows that J. W. Town’s pottery was at the west end of Locust Street. The abstract also shows that land west of Locust Street and up to the railroad tract once belonged to G. Glenn Estates or the Glenn Addition to the Town of Paris.

On March 10, 1873 Geo. Glenn and wife Elizabeth sold one and three fourth acres to Katherine Vogel for $230.00 and on August 10, 1874 she sold the lot to James W. Town and wife Margaret for $225.00. James W. Town owned the land until Oct. 26, 1884 when he sold it to John H. Miers and wife Flora for $500.00. On Jan. 1, 1898 John H. Miers sold the one and three fourths acres to Thos. E. Goodrich and wife of Virginia for $1200.00 (parents of Fred and Josie).  It appears that John Miers built the house that is still standing and is now used as a cow barn, between 1885 and 1898. The atlas shows a small house or shop on the property in 1876, which J. W. Town could have built for his pottery shop or home. The property now belongs to Aubrey Milnes and wife.

The pottery jar belonged to Robert H. Smithey and family of Hamilton, Montana who lived in Paris until 1899 when they moved to Montana. Robert Smithey was the sheriff of Monroe County for several years and later served on the police force of the U. S. Senate in Washington for two years. His son Clarence who now lives in Hamilton sent me the jar. He thinks it was made in 1875 or 1876.

The above map shows the location of the J. W. Town pottery in 1876. South across Locust Street is the Glenn Addition to the Town of Paris and part of it was sold to David Wm. Henning. ON this property were several pits where Town got clay and there can still be seen an excavation which Bob Henning remembers his grandfather saying was one of the pits. This picture shows part of the excavation that can still be seen. It is on the Rock Road.


Eugene Henning of Lakeland, Florida wrote:

“I have some very distinct memories of the place where the old pottery was, for we kids had some sort of playhouse built in and above on the excavations. Bill Henning, Cecil Calhoun, Harold Hurd and perhaps others, built a platform over the diggings. I was very small and it seemed very high and dangerous to me. It was on our side of the road about opposite the Goodrich henhouse. I recall the clay was very slick and firm. Much of the lower part of our yard and a great deal of the Goodrich pasture opposite had a clay soil. The Goodrich lower pasture never had a blade of grass and their hogs ate the unlucky chickens that came over the fence, instead of the missing grass. Harris later filled in one of the excavations in our yard along the north side. I think the old Goodrich henhouse and adjoining shed were parts of the pottery. The brick for our house came from it. Our grandfather, David Wm. Henning built the brick house; it was two full stories at first, it burnt in 1904, when we moved to the house near the pottery site where I was born. The rest of the children were all born in the brick house. I believe it was the McGee’s (Oma’s family) that restored the house in its present one and one half stories when they bought it and some adjoining land. The original brick house was built about 1870.”

These pictures show the location of the J. W. Town property. In the first picture the land on the right side of Locust street where the house can be seen is the land owned by Town. But he used clay from both sides of Locust. Locust runs west, on the left the street is the Rock Road and the right is the street to the old Ice House.