During the Civil War, Lane Cunningham left the rural but beautiful hills of White County, Tennessee to join the Army. Before his departure, Lane hid his only milk cow in a nearby cave. He did so out of fear that foraging soldiers might steal or slaughter his cow while he was away, which would leave his wife, Catherine, and their children without milk or butter.
Because a large, cold stream ran from the mouth of the cave, Catherine kept her buttermilk jug there so that it would stay cool. Lane’s prediction proved to be true, and his family’s efforts to conceal their cow and buttermilk failed, as soldiers would often find the buttermilk jug and subsequently, drink from it. However, they never destroyed the jug, nor did they steal the cow. The weary soldiers assumed that they would likely pass through this territory again, and they would likely be in need of a cold drink.
This jug, which was likely made in White County by a local potter, is said to have originally belonged to Lane’s father, Edward Cunningham. The Museum acquired it from the great-granddaughter of Lane Cunningham, Ruby Henry Pinner. Ruby lived in Waterford, Michigan, and used the jug for many decades.