Samuel J. Wetmore & Co.

Samuel J. Wetmore & Co. purchased the Huntington Pottery from Jonathan and Sarah Titus on February 27, 1805 for $250.93. The partnership consisted of Samuel Wetmore (1774-1823), Samuel Fleet (1768-1823), Scudder Sammis (1764-1812), and Timothy Williams (1756-1811).

At a mere seventy days, Williams may hold the record as having ownership of the Huntington Pottery for the shortest amount of time. On May 8th, 1805, Williams sold his one quarter share of the Pottery to Moses Scudder (1761-1825) for $65.25. He was the oldest of the original partners and a contemporary of Jonathan Titus.

Portion of the title page for the deed transferring Timothy Williams one quarter share to Moses Scudder.

For these prominent Huntington citizens, the Pottery was an investment rather than a trade. The sale came at a time when a flux in national events created a demand for more local stoneware.

“A reason is easily seen for the flurry of new stoneware factories that appeared around 1805. From 1804 to 1812 the seizure and impressment of 10,000 American seamen into the British Navy led to a series of Congressional Acts [1806-9] that prohibited trade with England. With the Embargo Act of [p. 407] 1807 [one of the causes of the War of 1812] imports dropped to one-third, and American potters had to supply a domestic market cut off from foreign sources. … Samuel Wetmore in 1805 began the enterprise at Huntingdon, Long Island, that later would become Brown Brothers.” [L. G. G. Ramsey, F.S.A., ed. The Complete Color Encyclopedia of Antiques, London. New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc. 1962.]

Although Ramsey’s claim that Samuel Wetmore began Huntington’s pottery enterprise is questionable, the British embargo would be a clear reason for Wetmore and his partners to invest in one.

The investment, however, did not go as smoothly as planned.

Two newspaper clippings signalled a floundering partnership. The first, in 1810, listed for sale, “a Manufactory for making stone and Earthenware, situated in Huntington, Long Island…” The second, in 1813, offers half or whole of the Pottery, which will be sold at auction within a month if the sale isn’t made.

Mercantile Advertiser, New York City, April 6, 1810 (courtesy Anthony J. Butera)
ational Advocate, New York City, April 23, June 3, June 19 and July 8, 1813 (courtesy Anthony J. Butera)

Sometime between 1811 and 1817 Samuel Wetmore moved to New York City to take a job as a hospital historian. It was his brother Apollos, also of NYC, who acted as agent for the 1810 sale.

Currently, there’s no clear evidence that the pottery, or any portion of it, was sold at auction. Edwin Atlee Barber makes a claim in an addendum in the third edition of The Pottery and Porcelain of the United States that there had been a States & Scudder in 1812, but there’s no evidence to support this — not even among his papers preserved at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In any case, there must have been personal or financial reasons for putting the Pottery up for sale.

The national tide that produced a demand for local pottery could have contributed to a Huntington Pottery crisis. Congressional acts starting in 1806 cutting off supply from England created a larger market for locally produced pottery. However, these same events led to the War of 1812, an act that cut off many east coast trade routes.

Between 1812 and 1815, British warships had a strong presence along the north shore of Long Island. Many merchant ships were attacked and captured by the British. [Long Island Coastguard History] Shipping pottery from Huntington Harbor to consumers across the sound and along the east coast would have been virtually impossible. Profits must have plunged.

Business must have improved somewhat because the Pottery purchased by Samuel Wetmore & Co. for $250.93 in 1805 was purchased by Benjamin Keeler from Moses Scudder for $1300 in 1825.

At the time of the sale to Keeler, Moses Scudder was the only survivor of the original partners. Scudder Sammis, a “mariner…formerly Master of an New York Packet,” died in Georgia in 1812. Fleet and Wetmore died in 1823. Moses Scudder died nine months later.

Benjamin Keeler took the reigns of the Pottery for two years until he sold it back into the hands of a Huntington Potter dynasty.

All in the (Pottery) Family

All of the partners of Samuel Wetmore & Co. were descended from or connected to the first settlers of Huntington. Even Samuel J. Wetmore, many times assumed to be an outside investor, was married to Liberty Prime, the granddaughter of Ebenezer Prime, the Presbyterian famous for his rebellion when the British occupied Huntington during the Revolutionary war.

The family connections of all the partners of Wetmore & Co. are fascinating. (See Family Tree 1, below.)

  • Timothy Williams was Jonathan Titus’s first cousin, twice removed. Williams was a contemporary of Titus and a Revolutionary War veteran as well.
  • Moses Scudder and Scudder Sammis were “double” cousins. (Brother and sister Timothy and Elizabeth Sammis married sister and brother Elizabeth and Jonathan Scudder.) A third cousin, Susannah Smithe was the mother of Isaac Scudder Ketcham, an owner of the Pottery in 1856
  • Samuel Fleet married Timothy Williams’ younger sister, Rachel. After her death, Fleet married Elizabeth Gardiner. Elizabeth Gardiner’s nephew, Matthew Harriman Gardiner, would later partner with Moses Scudder’s nephew, Henry Lewis, to become Lewis & Gardiner, owners of the Huntington Pottery in 1827.

After Richard Holbrook, Robert Williams and Daniel Whitehead formed the town of Huntington in 1653, more settlers followed. Their names included Carll, Platt, Ketcham, Gardiner, Lewis and Scudder. There were two lines of Scudders and all the Pottery Scudders were from the same line.

More about Samuel J. Wetmore

Samuel J. Wetmore is considered a Huntington outsider in nearly all current histories of the Huntington Pottery. But reading Samuel Wetmore’s middle initial as an “I” rather than a “J” is the first hint that he was actually Samuel Ithiel Wetmore, a Long Islander who married Liberty Prime of Huntington. (Click to open a detailed thesis.)

Samuel Wetmore and Liberty Prime were both born in Connecticut and moved to Long Island when they were children. The Wetmores were Connecticut natives. The Primes were Revolutionary War exiles.

Liberty’s family moved to Connecticut before she was born because Liberty’s father, Benjamin Youngs Prime, “… was the special object of the enemy’s hatred.”

Benjamin Prime’s father was Ebenezer Prime, a Presbyterian minister and infamous nemesis of the British during Huntington’s occupation. Benjamin and Mary Prime and their children returned to Huntington after the American victory in 1783, when Liberty was six.

Concurrently, Samuel Wetmore’s father, Noah, was a Presbyterian pastor in Connecticut who was an “ardent patriot and chaplain in the American Revolution.” After the war he moved his wife Submit and their five children (including Samuel Ithiel in his adolescence) from Connecticut to Setauket, Long Island, 25 miles east of Huntington.

Perhaps their religious and revolutionary roots brought Samuel Wetmore and Liberty Prime together. They married in 1800 and had six children together, living first in Huntington, and then in New York City where Wetmore was employed as the Librarian of The New York Hospital where his brother Noah was the superintendent. After Wetmore’s death in in 1823, Liberty and their children remained city dwellers.

Family Tree 1: Thomas Scudder to Samuel Fleet

(Not all siblings are shown)

This tree is extended in Family Tree 2: Timothy Scudder to Henry Lewis. The common ancestor that links one to the other is Timothy Scudder (1655-1740), marked in yellow on both trees.

DETAIL: Left portion of the full tree:

DETAIL: Right Portion of the full tree:

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