Edward T. Parsons

(1856 - 1937) Oxford, MD

Ed Parsons was born on the Tred Avon Rover in Talbot County, Maryland in 1856 and, at the age of ten, moved with his family to Oxford, Maryland, where he went to work in his uncle’s shipyard. He began his own ship chandlery business in time and, after building a successful business, began making decoys to meet his and other hunter’s needs in the area. He was the only decoy maker who made birds for sale, other than the Elliot twins, in Talbot County. He made a round, smaller than average decoy and always cut a concavity under the end of the tail. His ballast weight was melted lead poured into a one-inch hole he bored in the bottom of the decoy. His paint patterns were simple and effective. He made canvasback, redhead, blackhead, goldeneye, buffleheads, and mergansers.

One source contends that Parsons honed his carving skills when he began to hunt over decoys made by Captain Ben Dye and Captain John “Daddy” Holly. If, in fact, he did acquire his carving skills in this way, it is also likely that he learned from these early market hunters and artistic decoy carvers that other hunters would pay “hard money” for decoys that would draw birds. In later life, Parsons fashioned beguiling miniature and decorative birds for early collectors. He is credited with the carving of a flying Canada goose, which graced the Tidewater Inn in Easton.