The original name of Thurmont – Mechanicstown – is believed to derive from the collection of artisans who populated the area as it evolved into an organized community. We know there were blacksmiths, tool makers, tanners, and saddlers, for example. Another “industry” that flourished was pottery-making; every house needed crocks, bowls, jugs, and plates. The most renowned pottery manufacturer in Mechanicstown during the second half of the 19th Century was Lynn’s Pottery, owned by Jacob Lynn.
Lynn bought the property now known as the Crow’s Nest in 1845 and began selling pottery out of that location one year later. Lynn isn’t considered a potter himself; it appears that he owned the business and sold the wares but others created the inventory for sale. Jacob died in 1878 and his wife in April 1879; their son, William Addison Lynn, inherited the property after his mother’s death and sold it in January 1881 to Joseph and Mary Simons, who carried on the business for a few years but to little success. By May of the same year Addison Lynn opened his own new pottery business on East Street and continued to find favor until ill health caused him to close his factory and storefront in 1889; he died in September 1901. Both Lynns sold directly to consumers as well as through stores, such as Stocksdale’s on Carroll Street. Incidentally, the younger Lynn served during the Civil War in Company D 6th Maryland Regiment along with many others from the town and surrounding area.
Jacob Lynn collaborated with two potters, in particular, who gained estimable reputations as masters of the trade. Anthony Bacher – also sometimes spelled Baker and Baecher – was lauded by the local newspaper numerous times during the 1870s for products of unmatched quality; he still is considered a master. Bacher spent 12 years in Mechanicstown during the 1850s and 1860s before leaving for Winchester, Virginia. In June 1876 Bacher announced through the Catoctin Clarion that he was returning to town to work with Jacob Lynn again, and annually until the end of the decade he would re-appear in spring for the start of the pottery season. After Addison sold the original pottery property, Bacher spent most of his time at his Winchester pottery until his death in 1889.
James Mackley also worked with Lynn and became proficient working under Bacher. One of Mackley’s creations is in the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Mackley was born in Carroll County and likely began in pottery there before moving to Mechanicstown sometime during Bacher’s first term at Lynn’s Pottery, probably 1865. However, Mackley is not mentioned in the local news as a potter between the 1870s and his death in December 1916. He is believed to have been poisoned by the chemicals used in the glazing process and gave up the trade sometime before 1880. His obituary indicated he took up butchering; he began advertising his meat market on Water Street in June 1887.
Addison Lynn also owned his pottery business but was not the potter, although for a season or two he appears to have operated alone. He had at least three potters as his collaborator during his years in business, the last of whom the Clarion identified as “G B Faltzgraff” from York, PA.
Bowl by James Mackley