Ant Defenders: The Timeless Pest
Set of four ant defenders or traps
Attributed to Rye family of potters
Marion County, Alabama
Stoneware with salt glaze
Collection of Jerry Otts
Although not exclusively produced in Alabama, ant defenders (also called ant traps) were an especially popular, and useful, form. Ant defenders are ceramic disks with either one or two basins. The outer ring was filled with water, turpentine, or kerosene while the dry inner portion held the leg of a table, sideboard, or hunt board (as shown in the image below). Ants could not cross the liquid barrier, protecting the foodstuffs on the furniture above.
Attributed to Jehiel Watson (1794-1850)
Greene County, Alabama
Collection of Beth and Fred Mercier, on loan in memory of Robert Hicks
The name “Watson” is inscribed on the interior of this tall side or hunt board, possibly the signature of cabinetmaker Jehiel Watson. Born in Georgia to a cabinetmaker father, Watson migrated westward to Alabama, eventually settling in Greene County.