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.  Terra cotta water pipes were used after the Civil War.

Michael Freytag and John Curtis proposed to make earthenware pipes for the new Philadelphia water works in 1801, but "no one believed in them."  Freytag and Curtis were potters in Philadelphia, see 1980 reference.

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

Hazleton, PA about 1860, Terra Cotta

Honesdale, PA 1863 Terra Cotta

White Haven, PA, about 1870, Terra cotta

Saint Paul, MN 1870

Westminster MD 1883

Atlantic City NJ 1883



References
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 Weekly Miners' Journal (Pottsville, Pennsylvania), April 21, 1860, Page 3.
Terra-Cotta Pipe Agency!  Stone Pipes, for conveying water to colleries or dwellings, and as discharge pipes for carrying water off.  The subscribers have on hand, and are prepared to furnish stone pipes from 2 to 12 inches in diameter--with elbows and connections for connecting at any angle. 

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.

1884 History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884, Volume 1, by John Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott
Page 510:  1801. Michael Freytag and John Curtis proposed to make earthenware pipes, but no one believed in them.

1887 "Earthen-Ware pipes," by A. H. Howland, The American Engineer 13:156 (May 4, 1887)

1888 "The Use of Salt Glazed Vitrified Pipe in Water-Works Conduits," by Stephen E. Babcock, C.E., Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the American Water Works Association 9:29-46 (April 1888)  Also includes information on wood stave conduits.

1888 "The Use of Salt Glazed Vitrified Pipe in Water-Works Conduits," by Stephen E. Babcock, C.E., Engineering News 19:331-333 (April 28, 1888)

1980 Handcraft to Industry: Philadelphia Ceramics in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century by Susan H. Myers
Page 38:  John Brelsford was a potter by 1846 and by 1849 he had established the "Northern Liberties Stone Ware Manufactory" at New Market and Germantown Road. In 1853 he advertised that he made water pipes, chemical stoneware, and general household ware.
Page 49: Note 31. South Fifth between Cedar and Shippen: Michael Freytag, by 1794-1807; Daniel Freytag, 1808-1824.
Page 55: Brelsford, John 1846-1858. Potter at New Market and Germantown Road between 1846 and 1857. He may have operated his own pottery during all of this 12-year period although he listed himself only as "potter" until 1849 when he advertised his "Northern Liberties Stone Ware Manufactory . . . orders received at John Eckstein's, 36 n 3d st, Cornelius & Son, 176 Chesnut st." In the same year he listed the "Northern Earthenware Factory" but there is no indication that he continued to make earthenware. Brelsford is included in the 1850 census of manufactures (MC 3; see Appendix II). In 1853 the directory indicates that he was "manufr. of Chemical Apparatus, Stone Water Pipes, and Stoneware in general." (PD 63-65, 68-74, 76, 78-82, 84, 88.) Two examples of his household stoneware are illustrated in Figures 26 and 27.
Page 57: Curtis, John 1797-1831? From 1797 through 1804 John Curtis, presumably the son of the above mentioned John Curtis, was a potter at 405 South Front Street. Apparently expanding the pottery, his address included 407 as well as 405 South Front between 1805 and 1822. He is listed at 405, 407, and/or 409 South Front Street as late as 1831 but is not listed as a potter after 1824.
Page 59: Freytag, Daniel 1806-1824. Probably the son of Michael Freytag, Daniel Freytag was a potter at 409 North Front Street in 1806 and 1807 and by 1808 was at the family pottery on South Fifth Street between Cedar and Shippen. When Michael Freytag changed his occupation to Justice of the Peace in 1808 he apparently retired from the potting business, turning the operation over to Daniel. (PD 19-21)
In 1810, Charles Dasher, an apprentice under Michael Freytag since 1805, was rebound to Daniel Freytag. By 1811 Daniel Freytag was making fine ware and was given special mention in the "Census" city directory.
Page 60: Freytag, Michael By 1794-1807 Potter at South Fifth Street between Cedar and Shippen from 1794 to 1807. In 1808 he gave up potting and became "justice of the peace," maintaining his address in the same block as the pottery. (PD 4, 8-10, 12, 15-21.) Michael Freytag's pottery is undoubtedly the one referred to in the following 1797 advertisement:
Earthen Ware Manufactory.—Cheap Iron Kettles.  For Sale, Three large cast-iron Kettles or Boilers, generally used for boiling sugar in the West-Indies, and post askes, [sic] etc. in this country. Apply at the Earthen Ware Manufactory, in Fifth below South street.
Page 105: Note 6. 6. For convenience of definition, ceramic bodies generally are divided into three major types—earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain—essentially determined by the composition of the clay, the porosity and density of the finished product, and the temperature to which each must be fired relative to the type of clay used and the end result desired. The first, earthenware, is fired to the lowest temperature, generally is porous, and consequently requires a glaze if it is to be watertight. It ranges in color between buff and red and can be made very light in color by the addition of a light-burning clay. Stoneware has a higher firing point than earthenware, is buff, grey, or brown in color, and requires no glaze to be watertight, though it usually is glazed for general utility and appearance. Stoneware is highly vitrified but not translucent as is porcelain. Porcelain has a vitrified and translucent body and usually is white in color. Authorities differ on the precise distinction in firing range between the three types but there is general agreement on the approximate figures of below 1200°C for earthenware, between 1200°C and 1400°C for stoneware, and roughly 1300°C and above for porcelain.


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





© 2016 Morris A. Pierce