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ATHENS TILE AND POTTERY COMPANY

ATHENS TILE AND POTTERY COMPANY. Athens Tile and Pottery Company of Athens, Texas, a pottery and clay products manufacturer, was founded in February 1885 by McKendree Miller, who was born in Illinois and had worked for a Louisiana, Missouri, pottery before moving to Texas in 1884. Miller arrived by train in Dallas and walked the tracks to Athens, where he established the Athens Pottery. By locating at Athens, where substantial amounts of clay were available for manufacturing, the business could provide its own raw materials, interrupted only when rain filled the clay pits. The company sold its products through local distributors in cities and towns throughout the Southwest, distributing by railroad until 1930, when it acquired its own trucks. Later it operated a retail store at Athens and diversified into the manufacture of syrup jugs, churns, jars, vases, cups, and mugs. The firm incorporated before World War I and eventually owned seven potteries in Texas, including facilities at Dallas, Fort Worth, Groesbeck, San Antonio, and near Austin. The pottery sold $3 million worth of products annually by 1925 and at one time employed up to 200 workers, 75 percent of the town population. Miller was succeeded at the head of the firm by his sons, Elmer and Pearl Eli Miller, grandson M. K. Miller II, and great grandson M. K. Miller, Jr. The business failed during the Great Depression, but M. K. Miller II bought the Athens plant, reorganized it, and renamed it Athens Tile and Pottery in 1934. When plastic replaced clay pots, the firm's business changed to the production of industrial materials as well as domestic wares. In 1961 Athens Tile and Pottery manufactured 10,000,000 flower pots annually. In 1968 the company, including its plants at De Leon, Texas, and Mooringsport, Louisiana, was acquired by Texas Industries.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Athens Review, November 18, 1909, Special Ed., August 1962. Henderson County Historical Commission, Family Histories of Henderson County, Texas, 1846–1981 (Dallas: Taylor, 1981). Robert H. Ryan, Athens, Texas: Economy in Transition (Austin: Bureau of Business Research, University of Texas, 1961).

Diana J. Kleiner

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Diana J. Kleiner, "ATHENS TILE AND POTTERY COMPANY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/dlaun), accessed April 16, 2014. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.