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Gloucester artisan’s carved waterfowl on display at museum

The newest feature in Gloucester County’s Museum of History is a duck decoy exhibit. Each of the waterfowl was hand-carved and painted by Gloucester’s William McKinley Smith.

Smith was born in 1897 and passed away in 1986. During his life, Smith carved a countless number of ducks, geese, swans and other birds that lived in or migrated through Gloucester County.

Smith carved decoys for hunting and for display, which made them quite popular to own. The collection displayed in the museum is on loan from its owner and museum volunteer Vern Deal Garnett. Garnett’s mother, Betty Jean Deal, had collected Smith’s decoys in her life.

Garnett said her mother told Smith that for each decoy he made, she wanted to purchase one. The decoys have sat in her mother’s house since, on display on shelves. She said she owned almost 60 of Smith’s decoys. She said when Museums Coordinator Robert Kelly asked her if she would be willing to loan some for an exhibit, she brought her entire collection i...

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