L. Travis Ward, Sr. (1864-1926) Crisfield, MD
Travis Ward was a barber, boat builder, waterman and decoy maker by trade. With the help of Noah Sterling and his family, Ward initiated a style of carving unique to Crisfield. Most decoys originating in this area are solid and a bit oversized to accommodate hunting on marshes, creeks and wide open waters. As opposed to other Chesapeake Bay decoys that have rounded bottoms designed for rough waters, Crisfield decoys have flat bottoms. Narrow chests and wide hips further characterized these lures.
Ward utilized old telephone poles for his primitive decoys and only enough paint to attract passing wildfowl. He designed his decoys to be shot over, not to be sold or collected, though he did sell some of his Canada goose decoys for ten dollars each (Berkey, Pioneer 26). Today, Ward's decoys sell for considerably more than ten dollars, but their value seems dependent upon the fame of his sons, Lem and Steve. Ward did not teach his sons how to carve, but allowed them to paint some of the decoys he carved.
Ward not only enjoyed making decoys, but also appreciated poetry and delighted in singing with his unmatched bass voice. Travis Ward died when his appendix burst, but he left behind a sound basis for future Crisfield carvers.