So, as the history goes, Norton with family in tow, reaches Bennington, Vermont, sometime in the 1790's. Norton purchases land there and begins, as most did in the 1790's, to farm.
A perspective look at the times may give us all a grasp of respect for the people who lived them. No grocery stores, no pharmacies, no nice restaurants...it was primitive, really primitive, by today's standards. If you wanted to have vegetables...you grew them... meat... you raised it...game... you shot it. So farming WAS the norm. So many of our early American Potters were also farmers. The cycle was to farm all summer, bring in the harvest in the fall, throw pottery all winter, then fire the kiln up on the first days of warmer weather. Kilns needed temperature stability and warmer weather to fire the pottery well, so it was really a dice roll.
Norton's kiln was built, we are almost positive, with the intent on selling some pottery, once it was fired. In the early years it was red ware or earthenware. The clay was found locally the wood chopped out of the slab of land you wanted to make into a pasture and the glazes lead based and sometimes smelted out of local rock. Again...PRIMITIVE.
Norton builds his kiln in 1793 on his farm. The site has since been excavated to the immense joy of the curators at Bennington Museum. Norton had a son with his wife Lucretia, named Luman, who was about eleven when the kiln was erected and was soon learning the trade. Along side him, a nephew of Mrs. Norton, Norman Judd, also worked at the kiln, starting around the age of fifteen. The three made firebrick, jugs, crocks and plates all from the red clay.
The jug pictured, was one made for Miss Omindia Gerry of Bennington aged 10 years. It was passed from generation to generation until donated to Bennington Museum by the Gerry family. The jug is the oldest documented piece of Bennington pottery known and was made at the original kiln site on Captain Norton's farm by a potter who worked for the Norton's.
The jug has an extraordinary look and was decorated with most likely a lead based glaze which turned out was unhealthy to smell when baked, when eaten off of or drunk out of. It's really a beautiful jug to look at in this authors eye and perhaps a prelim to what was to come.