Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Heritage is Rich in Rock Mills

Saturday was the Rock Mills Heritage Day....and it was really awesome.  There were people there with old pottery, there were people there telling the history of the Creek Indians in Clay and Randolph counties, there was a domino tournament going on, cheese tasting, bake sale, yard sales, it was so much fun....the only problem....was the heat.  This event should be held in late October....sitting outside in 95+ degree weather....not so much fun.  What I loved the most was the pottery.....and Frank Foster's shop.  It was fascinating....and Frank Foster is so very talented.  According to the historians I talked with at the Heritage Day event, "Rock Mills has a rich heritage as a center of commerce and community that started in the mid 1800s and continued through the turn of the century in Alabama. Not only was the mill thriving but jug shops and other occupations that accompanied a busy town flourished as well. In 1901, in a small rock building built across the creek from the mill, a doctor and his partner opened a drugstore with a classic soda fountain. In 1910, they expanded the business to include a bottling company called Rock Springs Bottling Works. When the mill became Wehadkee Mill the rock store was bought and converted into a dry goods and grocery store for the mill workers and their families.

Today, that little rock building is the home of Rock Mills Pottery, LLC. From the 1830s through 1930s, Rock Mills became known as a major industry center for the production of utilitarian pottery. Will Boggs and his family along with many other pottery families like the Usserys, Pounds (they are members of our church), Mapps and Pitmans made a living producing churns, jugs, crocks and planters which were peddled all over the south. This antique pottery has made a resurgence and is now sought after by collectors. Frank Foster, great grandson of Will Boggs, is proud to account for all the generations of his family that have taken to clay. He has made it his mission to revive the heritage of this area and his family and the other pottery families by opening Rock Mills Pottery, LLC in the historic rock building across the creek from the mill. Frank's previous occupation as Marketing Director and eventual Chief Operating Officer of a company sent him all over the world. On his travels through Europe, Asia, South America, and the South Pacific he found himself seeking out pottery production facilities as a side interest. The pursuit of clay and its function in different cultures was only a hobby at that time in his life. Frank Foster refocused his business experience and mixed it with his genetic talent for making and selling clay work.

 He put his mind to learning a new skill. He studied throwing clay on the wheel, he researched the technical side of firing the clay to different temperatures for different purposes and continually tests numerous glazes for their beauty and function.  In just over two years, Frank has developed a style that reflects the functionality of his great grandfather's in his modern oven and dishwasher safe mixing bowls, casserole dishes, vases, and platters. But it does not stop there. He also makes humorous faces jugs, coffee mugs and bird houses.

 He is always thinking of ways to remember the importance of his roots and that is best seen in his carvings of historic buildings onto his pottery.  Rock Mills Pottery, LLC has expanded into a country store gift shop. For sale, along with Frank's pottery, there is antique pottery, ceramic art from other local artists, paintings on slate, handmade wooden rockers, walking canes and flint knives.  The vision is to continue to expand and now another art form for sale in the store is the work of two local writers. Frank is now selling two books from authors that tell tales of Southern folklore. He is planning a book signing, featuring both authors, at the store.  If all goes according to plan, a museum will be developed within the old mill store to display photos of the mill, people that worked there, the items that authenticate the pharmacy, the bottling company and of course beautiful antique pottery.  It has not taken long for the word to get out. Many neighbors come by on a regular schedule to see what's new or to view the opening of the kiln. Others come by to buy handmade gifts for special occasions. But the range of visitors is growing to buyers from 30 states and 4 countries. Tourists read about the mill's history and naturally end up in Rock Mills Pottery looking to exchange stories and perhaps buy something to remember their trip or take as gifts for friends.  Let me tell you.. if you are in the market for a piece of functional or antique pottery or a decorative art piece, come by Rock Mill Pottery. Brother Frank opens the doors most Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. You can buy a cold glass bottled drink, enjoy a moment of days gone while rocking on the front porch or reminisce while looking at the antique bottles from the drinks that were bottled there about 100 years ago.".....did I mention that Brother Frank is the pastor at the Rock Mills Nazarene will love sitting down and listening to him talk about pottery and God.

If you ever have a Saturday and nothing to do....especially if it is the First/Third Saturday of the month...come to Wehadkee Trade Days....for such a little town....there is always something happening....humm....maybe when my book is published...he will let me sell it in his shop.  Ya think?  Have a blessed Sunday.


Mimi said...

That pottery work is amazing! I love events like this.

Hugs & love,

Dianne said...

Karen do you know who started the drug store in 1901. Could you please email me at Any help would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have one of the Rock Mills soda bottles for sale?