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909 South Schumaker Drive
Salisbury, MD 21804
410.742.4988

Museum Hours

Mon - Sat: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sun: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Thomas "Fitzie” Fitzpatrick (1887-1958) Delanco, NJ  

Thomas Fitzpatrick lived on a mobile houseboat on the Delaware River. A true rlver rat, Fitzpatrick lived off the water, foraging, hunting, fishing and carving to support himself. He earned extra money by caulking the seams of boats in area boat yards and repainting and repairing other hunters' decoys.

The working decoys Fitzpatrick produced represent the English school of style. Using whatever wood he found, Fitzpatrick made as many as two thousand decoys. About half of those decoys represent black ducks, while the remainder replicate mallards and pintails. Most of the birds are in a low-head or contented position; the few heads carved in alert positions are somewhat small in comparison to the bodies. For eyes, Fitzpatrick used upholstery tacks or brass tacks or old shoe buttons. He hammered in the nostrils of each bird with a screwdriver tip. Decoys he made during the 1920's are large and sturdy with round bottoms and deep feather carving. Those crafted later on in the 1940's are smaller with flat bottoms to improve stability on the water. Thomas Fitzpatrick also carved miniature decorative birds which he peddled door-to-door when he needed the money.