Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography

Technology Earthen Pipe

Earthen Pipe in American Waterworks

Earthen pipes, also known as clay or stone ware, were usually made by potters and could be glazed or unglazed.  They were used in Roman waterworks and also in some English works, such as Portsmouth in 1595.  Earthen conduits were mentioned by Dr. Joseph Browne in a 1799 letter, and many companies produced them in the early Nineteenth Century.

Samuel Bartlett, patent October 1, 1805 for Pipes of clay, conduit, Hartford, Connecticut.  Another patent January 5, 1809 for conduit, clay, Hartford, Connecticut.  Sales agent for Connecticut (except Windsor County), - Nathaniel Seymour, West Hartford, 1807.  Pipes may have been used in Farmington, Connecticut.

Samuel Bakewell, 1806, no patent, widely advertised and used in Washington, D. C.

Robert Ramsey, patent June 24, 1808 for pipes, conduit, mode of making from clay, Hanover, New Hampshire.

James Ramsey, patent April 4, 1810 for Tubes, clay, for aqueduct, Burke, Vermont.  Used at St. Johnsbury, Vermont, and Troy, New York

Jesse Kersey, Chester County, PA 1820, used in Reading, Pennsylvania

Vickers and Valentine, Reading, PA 1822

Joseph Putnam Stone ware pipe, Salem, MA 1827

The Southern Porcelain Company - Kaolin, South Carolina, 1856

Kaolin Company, Augusta, Georgia 1857

A few water works systems used earthen pipes, but they were universally unsuccessful and replaced with other materials.

Farmington, Connecticut, date unknown.

Troy New York 1812 Earthen Conduit Company of Troy

St. Johnsbury, Vermont 1813

Salem, North Carolina

Pittsfield MA

Reading VA

Washington DC 1826 Bakewell

Kennett Square, PA 1842 Terra Cotta

Chicopee MA Vitified pipe

Augusta GA, Kaolin pipe

Honesdale, PA 1863 Terra Cotta

Westminster MD 1883

Atlantic City NJ 1883

1806 "Conduit, Samuel Bartlett," Connecticut Courant, February 26, 1806, Page 2.

1807 "Nathaniel Seymour, of West-Hartford," American Mercury, February 19, 1807, Page 1.

1811 "James Rumsey's Patent Machine for making earthen Aqueduct Pipes," Hartford Courant, October 2, 1811, Page 3.

1820 Village Record (West Chester PA), March 8, 1820, page 3.
The Subscribers Inform, that they are now provided with a handsome stock of EARTHEN PIPE For the conveyance of water underground.  These pipes are connected with a a durable cement, and are capable of sustaining a considerable pressure.  They have been proved in several different places, and are preferred by all who have tried them.  It is presumed, that they will obtain a general preference, as their durability is greater than can be expected from bored logs; and the water passing through them is more pure.  We might refer the public to a number of persons who have tried them, but we need that unnecessary.
They also continue the Earthenware business, on a scale sufficient extensive to afford a liberal supply to Store keepers.  All orders sent by mail to the Downington post office, will be promptly attended to; and ware of the first quality delivered.
JESSE KERSEY, & Co.  2d month 29, 1820

1826 John Bower, Patent #4,591X, Mode of making clay pipes, East Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, December 1, 1826

1827 Joseph Putnam, Patent #4,640X, Mode of making pipes, tubes, etc., Salem, Massachusetts, January 17, 1827.   

1828 Thomas Wickersham, making clay pipes, Patent #5,110X, Newbury, York County, Pennsylvania, May 13, 1828.

1860 "Home Industry - Southern Porcelain Company," Georgia Weekly Telegraph, October 4, 1860, Page 6. 
The company are also manufacturing porcelain water pipes, and have now contracts on hand for $50,000 worth of those, a large portion of which is for the water-works of the city of Augusta.

Also see the general bibliography page, which includes links to several lists of waterworks with information about pipes.

2016 Morris A. Pierce