Pfaltzgraff Pfacts It Began With a Voyage
Right: York County, Pennsylvania, tax entries for George Falsgraff in 1819, and for George (Johann George) Faltzgraff in 1837.
Redware pitcher made at the Freystown pottery.
Johann George Pfaltzgraff was born in Germany in the early 1800's. He learned the potter's trade, but because of a restrictive guild situation he had trouble establishing himself. So he and his new bride Elenora decided to emigrate to Pennsylvania, perhaps on the urging of a relative named George Falsgraff who had been a potter there since 1811. Johann and Elenora boarded the Brig Charles Ferdinand in Germany in May 1833 and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland almost four months later. By 1835 they had established themselves in George Falsgraff's home township of Conewago in York Country. Look at the two tax entries above. They are almost identical, detailing both men as potters living on 21 acres in Conewago Township, and owning one cow, presumably not the same cow!
Hand-throwing on a potter's wheel similar to this was the primary method of manufacture through the end of the 19th century.
Johann George Pfaltzgraff was aware of the needs of the farmer (a main occupation of the time) as well as the needs of the general community. He produced products such as pitchers, plates and mugs to meet domestic needs. He also produced utilitarian storage vessels like crocks, jugs and jars, which were necessary for food storage and preservation. He fashioned these simple wares out of locally abundant red clay, and as his family grew, he taught his craft to his sons John, Henry, George, Cornelius and Isaac. Of these, the first three would make names for themselves as highly skilled potters.
In 1839 Johann George decided to grow his family business by moving to Freystown, a small community that is now incorporated into the east side of the City of York. The family remained there until 1848 when they moved back to a more rural location north and west of town. Johann George's nephew Henry Miller eventually purchased the Freystown pottery. Four pieces of redware attributed to Miller have survived. However, as part of a research project into the history of The Pfaltzgraff Co., an archeological dig unearthed pottery shards that could date back to Johann George, and confirmed the exact location of the historic site. For more on the quest to find the Freystown pottery, click on "The Freystown Dig" at left.