August 19, 2018

Who’s Who on St. George Island / Tommy Deagle: Master Wood Carver

Tommy Deagle

 The excerpt below is from Who’s Who of St. George Island, by Mary Gale Adams, April 1994, St. George Island, MD.

In the words of Tommy Deagle (master decoy carver); son of Charles and Vicky Deagle; siblings Charles and Darlene.

“My grandfather, William H. Deagle moved from Deltaville, Virginia, to Walnut Point on the Coan River, Virginia, and then to St. George Island in 1922 to ’23. He married Vivian Purcell from Drayden and rented a house from the Adams family. He carried out fishing parties, crabbed, and oystered until he worked on the Patuxent River naval base, then built work boats for a living.

During the Great Depression, Ben Goddard built the house I now live in. My grandparents and father and uncle moved here in 1946

The house is on a cove of St. George Creek in St. George Park, Piney Point, MD. In a small shop behind the house, I hand-carve wooden decoys.

In the past, I built a 22-foot skiff, and a 24-foot skiff to work while crabbing and oystering for 18 years.

I have carved several thousand decoys during the past 26 years [as of 1994], including the Eagle on Francis Goddard’s skipjack the Connie Francis.

I am a member of Ducks Unlimited.

I am a waterman and decoy carver. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my old friends and new ones alike – Jack Russell, Viki Volk, David Sayre, Gary Potter, Nancy and Alvin Haynie, and the Ronnie Evans family for having enriched my life while working on the water crabbing and oystering, and for respecting my work as a decoy carver.”

The plaque at the entrance of his shop reads:

In Tommy Deagle’s workshop is a photo of his father Charles as well as shelves of decoys advancing toward completion.

Hand Carved Wooden Decoys

Tommy Deagle

P.O. Box 176-A

Tall Timbers, MD 20690

301-994-1621

Mary Gale Adams’ “A Who’s Who of St. George Island” has been called “a true oral history” by Andrea Hammer, conceived, produced, typed, written, hand-bound, and covered by Ms. Adams. There are home remedies, recipes, lineages, and tales stretching back to days before deep water wells were dug and cleaning day meant hauling the laundry over water to St. Mary’s City, before electricity, before automobiles.
Professor Hammer was the St. Mary’s College English professor who launched an oral history tradition at the college which has today evolved into the SlackWater Center.
St. George Island is positioned 6 miles up the Potomac River from Point Lookout, MD, and traditionally home to some 200 families. Almost up to when these oral histories were compiled in 1994 most families were supported by commercial fishing and used boats for commerce and as avenues to travel around the Chesapeake Bay. — Jack Russell

The Lexington Park Leader brings tales from local history, SlackWater stories, and Message From the Cap’n as a compilation of important information we might need. We hope you enjoy and share them with friends. We encourage you to use the comment section or email artster694@gmail.com to fill in missing details, or correct inaccurate ones.

Or contact Cap’n Jack Russell at the email address above or 240-434-1385.

To learn about tours and trips into the Chesapeake and get more information on Jack’s environmental education programs visit Fins + Claws’ Leader Member Page.

Leave A Comment