History – Brown & McCoy Pottery

By Dewayne Imsand

34Paul Moody of Richmond, VA made a remarkable discovery of a previously unknown salt glazed crock, labeled, “BROWN & McCOY WHOLESALE DEALERS IN STONEWARE ROSEVILLE. O”. Just how this piece “fit” into the known history of the McCoy potteries was intriguing, so an investigation was begun. At first it was thought that the crock was made by a Brown & McCoy Company where the McCoy was unrelated to the McCoy family known to us, but subsequently the following was found.

The “Brown” in the inscription was James E. Brown who was born in 1820. His father, Joseph Brown who was from Delaware, moved his family in 1837 to McLuney, Ohio. McLuney is located in Perry County in Harrison Township about 1½-miles south of Crooksville.

James E. Brown had married Lucy Ann Sowers before 1850, and moved to Roseville. Throughout their marriage they had seven children, one of which was Sarah E. Brown. There is more about Sarah below. James E. Brown became a well-known merchant, and both he, and later his son George Washington Brown, was quite influential in the Roseville area. Among James’ business ventures was a general merchandising store. In the Federal censuses of the late 1800’s, James listed his occupation as a merchant rather than a potter, indicating that he was not involved in making pottery, but rather a wholesale seller of it in his store. It is known from a history of the Brown family, that James employed his son G. W. Brown, and J.B. Owens at the store, and that G.W. went on to establish a pottery around 1850. In 1883, J.B. established the “J.B. Owens Pottery Company”.

In April 1870, a connection between the Brown family and the McCoy family occurred. The “McCoy” in this connection was James W. McCoy. J.W. was born in 1848, the same year as his family arrived in Muskingum County. His father, W. Nelson and wife Esther, had settled in Putnam, which later became a part of Zanesville. J.W. was 22 years old in 1870 when he married Sarah (Sade) Elizabeth Brown, the daughter of James E. Brown.

During the following year, J.W. and Sarah moved to Uniontown, Newton Township, Muskingum County, where he operated a dry goods store. In 1872, they moved to the community of Roseville, very near his wife’s parents. McCoy references have reported that J.W. opened a general merchandise store in Roseville in 1876, but I was always curious why he, and his wife, moved to Roseville five years earlier, and what J.W. did during that time.

It was discovered that the reason he moved to Roseville was that his father-in-law offered to take him in as a partner in his mercantile business, and their partnership became known as “Brown & McCoy”. The Brown and McCoy business operated from 1872 until 1888. It is surprising that neither the name James Brown, nor information about the Brown & McCoy business, has appeared in the literature.

After 1888, evidently the Brown & McCoy business was sold; for James E. Brown went on to establish a furniture store on First Street in Roseville – he was 68 years old at the time. He died in 1907 at the age of 88. It is not known when J.W. left the business, but as mentioned above, J.W. opened a general merchandise store in Roseville in 1876. Then in 1886, he entered into a series of partnerships in the pottery business. Finally, in 1899 he, along with several investors, established a pottery in Roseville solely in his own name, the “J. W. McCoy Pottery”.