Union-Sun & Journal article cover image

Middleport, New York, and its fascinating connection with Stoke-on-Trent

Ceramics discovered by historian Christa Lutz in the US village Middleport, New York, gives clues to the origin of original settlers. This fascinating article was published on the front page of the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, and the paper has kindly given their permission for it to be reproduced here. 
 
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By Michael Canfield
 
Back in January, Village of Middleport Historian Christa Lutz received an email from an English man who was interested in learning about the village. The man, who hails from Burslem, England, is employed by the Prince's Regeneration Trust, an initiative working to rehabilitate historic sites around England.
 
As it turns out, there is a Middleport in England. It is a suburb of Burslem and is situated on a canal, like its American counterpart.
 
"He wondered how we were alike and how we were different," Lutz said, noting that she sent him pictures of the village.
 
The man, Alan Christian, was also interested in the former name of the village, Tea-Pot Hollow. While no one knows for sure, there was a store owner in the area whose store became the hub of the area, Lutz said.
 
"It is said that he always had the tea pot on in the hollow," she said. "Do we know it's true? Who knows? Everyone believes that Middleport comes from the fact that we're halfway between Albion and Lockport."
 
When Lutz first took office as village historian, she had a box of artifacts to go through. Among the artifacts was a small dish, with a stamp on it that says it was made at Middleport Pottery, from Burslem, England. 
 
At the time, the stamp didn't mean much to Lutz, but as she corresponded with the man, she began to realize that there may be a connection between the two Middleports.
 
"I realized when he and I started communicating that Lockport, Newport, Albion, Royalton, Hartland, Lyndonville, all those names that we have around here, they have over here, as well," she said. 
 
Vermont also had similar names on old maps, Lutz said, leading her to believe that people from the Burslem area in England moved to Vermont first and then on to Middleport.
 
"We think, and we haven't shown any proof, that those people moved here," she said. "And this little dish may have belonged tosome family a long time ago. Middleport Pottery is from the 1850s. It's conceivable that the dish came with some family, moved to Vermont and ended up here, and when the canal was built, maybe someone said, 'Why don't we call it Middleport?'."
 
As part of the regeneration project, Middleport Pottery was relaunched in June. Before the relaunch, Christian asked Lutz what the back stamp on the tea set in the village hall for visiting dignitaries read in Middleport.
 
"I said, 'Well, I love your comment about the fine China for the visiting dignitaries, but ehre you tend to end up across the street at the pub for beer and Buffalo chicken wings, which is everyone's favorite,'" she said.
 
As a gift for the relaunch, Christian sent the village two handmade bowls, for the beer and the chicken wings, especially made for Middleport, NY. The dishes were dedicated at a recent Village Board meeting.
 
"He said, 'These are one of a kind and custom made just for you,'" Lutz said.
 
As for the ties between the two Middleports, Lutz said she will continue to look for evidence of a connection between the two regions.