Hiram, James, and Wallace Wilson were slaves who, in 1856, were brought to the small community of Capote outside of Seguin, Texas. After their arrival, they learned pottery making skills while assisting their slave owner in a successful pottery business. During the post-slavery era following the Civil War, they were granted some land and equipment in Capote by their slave owner, allowing them to ply their trade as potters and maintain their own pottery business. Historians consider the Wilson potters to be the first African businessmen in the State of Texas, a fact that is mentioned in the Texas public school history books.
Today, Wilson pottery pieces can be found in musuems, art galleries, and in private collections across the state. Some pieces were displayed in Texas Pavillion exhibit during the HemisSphere Fair World’s Fair in San Antonio in 1968. Intact pieces in perfect condition have inceased in value over the years, and their owners are fortunate to have a part of the Capote history in their possession.
There are currently over one thousand living descendants of the Capote Wilson potters, many of whom still reside in Seguin. The Wilson name is a prominent part of the history of the City of Seguin, which has been the host site of the Hiram, James, and Wallace Wilson Family Reunion, held every three years since 1987. The reunion has allowed family members to become more aware of the Wilson heritage and pottery legacy, and there is now the realization that more needs to be done to ensure the permanence of the family tradition for the benefit of future Wilson family members.