Joseph Pech was born in 1827, and was an Austrian who learned the pottery trade in Vienna. He immigrated to America in 1852 and settled in Maniowoc, Wisconsin with his family where they took up farming. Shortly after his arrive, he moved to Madison and established a pottery business.
Joseph Pech worked in the pottery business in Ohio from 1853 to 1877 and then farmed until 1882 when he moved to Macomb to open a pottery business with his son.
Joseph Pech’s son, Washington Joseph Pech, was born in Akron, Ohio in 1855. Ahead of his father he moved to Macomb in 1878 where he worked was a ware turner for A. W. Eddy and Company.
The Macomb Journal reported on August 24, 1882, that Pech and Sons is, “open and operational.” The company was founded with $20,000 capital by Washington Joseph Pech and his father, Joseph Pech. The father and son team called their new pottery, Buckeye Pottery and employed “20 hands.” It was located at 405 West Carroll Street, near the railroad track in a 42 x 80 foot brick building.
The company produced turned pots in three, four and five gallon sizes. Also butter churns, crocks, and jugs in various sizes. The largest was a 20 gallon jug. Pots were marked with: J. Pech & Sons/Macomb/Ill. In the early 1900 the company starts using the “Blue Ribbon Brand” logo on the ceramics.
In the spring of 1889, the company expanded to a 102 x 40 foot, two stories building which doubled the capacity of the plant.
W.J. Pech built the large brick house at 405 West Carroll, across from the pottery. His son, Albert, built a house next door to the west.
Washington J. Pech was mayor of Macomb from 1901 to 1903.
On April 21, 1919 the Buckeye factory was almost completely destroyed by fire. The cost of the total loss was $50,000 but the business was insured for only $23,000. It was reported in the Macomb Journal that the “rebuilding began before all the fire had cooled down.”
In 1937 Buckeye lost the contract to supply Hemp and Company (another Macomb business) with thousands of thermos jug liners which became a contributing factor in the company filing for bankruptcy in 1938.
Joseph Pech moved to Red Wing, Minnesota in 1939 and continued working in the pottery industry.