Capt. Josiah Franklin Travers

(1900 - 1965) Vienna, MD

Josiah Travers, known as “Uncle Joe” to Vienna locals, carved decoys from wood and cork. The latter birds represent black ducks and Canada geese. These decoys boast carved shoulders and wings and extensive feathering on the heads and over the backs. The black duck stools have pine bottom boards, but the geese do not. Both species have heads crafted of pine, but Travers outdid himself with the goose heads. After hollowing a tunnel through the body, he ran a screen door spring through this sleeve and attached the head to the spring. When placed on the water, the decoy achieved a lifelike appearance as the wave motion rocked the head. Travers’ wooden decoys replicate canvasbacks, mallards, scaup and wigeon. These lures of wood have “turtle backs” and slim heads that are small in comparison to the accompanying bodies (Fleckenstein, Decoys 250). Heads are detailed with carved mandibles and nails and finished with eyes of iron upholstery tacks. Josiah Travers put considerable effort into both the carving and painting processes, and today, that painstaking care remains evident.