- Putnam County
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Margaret Overbeck, the second eldest of the famous Overbeck Sisters, was born in 1863 in Cambridge City, Indiana. Encouraged by their strong-willed mother and inspired by their father, who preferred cabinetmaking to farming, they had been reared with the idea of living an industrious life. Margaret was the catalyst for pursuing pottery as a means of a self-supportive enterprise. On the art faculty at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, she perhaps interested ther sisters in the idea while at home for a year, recuperating from serious head injuries suffered in an accident during fall 1907. These independent women had been exposed to "reading, translating, music, weaving, and knitting; painting, working in textiles and with metals or wood. However, the Overbeck Pottery would not become a reality until the sisters obtained further schooling.
Despite teaching china painting, drawing, and watercolor at DePauw, Margaret wanted more specific work in ceramics. Margaret and her sister Mary spent the summer of 1909 under the direction of Arthur Wesley Dow, a leading figure in the Arts and Crafts revival of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
The timing of the four sisters was perfect — in the midst of Indiana’s burgeouning Arts and Crafts movement they set up a ceramics workshop in their home during 1911. The sisters intended to make a living by selling whatever they were able to produce at their pottery. They used only the most essential tools of their profession and performed all but the heaviest of work themselves to keep their expenses low.
Interest in their work went all the way to the White House as Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt kept a nearly life-size rooster in their Hyde Park home.
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