Living History

The Craven family is one of the oldest and best known names in American pottery.  The roots of the Craven family tradition of pottery have been traced back to the early 1700's to an English immigrant from Staffordshire, Peter Craven.  Peter migrated from New Jersey to Virginia and finally settled in North Carolina to avoid paying the high Virginia taxes.  There he set to making pottery as well as became an active leader of the Regulator movement that sought to rebel against the British crown due to excessive taxes, earning himself a number of indictments and punishments from the royal governor.

Following the Revolutionary war, Peter's descendants began migrations throughout the south east and mid-west taking the family trade of pottery with them.  One of the line that moved to Georgia is credited with setting up the first pottery shop in the Atlanta area.  In 1825, Peter's great grandson, John V. Craven, moved with two of his brothers to the Mossy Creek District of Habersham County (which today is in White County).  There, they set to making pottery, farming and doing business in the area.

John had five sons that worked in his businesses, including the pottery.  Of the five, Isaac Henry was the only one to fully commit himself to the pottery trade.  Today, there are many wares from the Mossy Creek district that are credited to Isaac Henry despite the majority of his pieces being unmarked.

Isaac Henry had eight sons, of which most at least partially took up the pottery trade.  His seventh son, Jessie Morris, eventually moved to Gillsville and may have worked with the Hewell family which had recently started their family pottery lineage.  Jessie's great grandson's Billy Joe and Mike would eventually begin producing pottery for Craven Pottery founded in 1971 in Gillsville.

While Billy Joe moved away from the wheel to focus on running the business of Craven Pottery, Mike stayed at the wheel.  During the 40+ years he put into making pottery, he likely became the most prolific potter of the entire Craven family lineage having produced over 1.25 million pieces from an estimated 8 million plus pounds of clay.

Today, Mike has lowered the volume of his output due to arthritis, which has made it more and more difficult for him to spend much time at the wheel.  He has established the Craven Family Pottery in Gillsville, which focuses on making collectible wares as well as large volume gardenwares.  Today, Mike still produces the vast majority of the collectible pieces for the pottery.