Decoy Carver and B&O Signalman Remembered

How we do value B&O Railroad memorabilia at the Aberdeen Room Museum? The rich history connected to that railroad and station in Aberdeen is so valuable when we trace the development of the community.

When Shirley Graves called and asked if we would be interested in some family records containing B&O memorabilia from the estate of Charles Nelson Barnard, we were overjoyed! Could it be the same Charles Barnard, the famous decoy carver?

Needless to say, we were excited when Shirley and Walter Graves visited the museum with their treasures. There are B&O railroad passes from 1910 and 1911 for Charles N. Barnard, B&O signal repairman. There is a vehicle registration from 1929, agreement booklets from 1930 and 1939 for the B&O Railroad and the Brotherhood of the Railroad Signalmen of America, a 1929 rules booklet from the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen of America.

Continuing on with the B&O, the records contained a "1938 Seniority Roster of the Baltimore Division of the East End of the B&O." Included is a handbook of "Intermittent Inductive Automatic Train Central Wayside Testing Equipment 3rd Supplement for July, 1930." There are also several other instruction booklets for signaling principles and practices.

A family file was set up for C.N. Barnard family. Into it were placed the more personal memorabilia. The B&O items were placed in the large railroad exhibit of the museum.

Research for the family files found that Charles Nelson Barnard was, indeed, a carver of fine decoys. He was born in February of 1876, and in the United States Census of 1880, his father was a fireman on railroad engine, from Port Deposit, in Cecil County, when "Nelson" was four years of age. In the Census of 1930, Charles Nelson was a resident of Havre de Grace, having moved there in 1915. In the "United States World War I Draft Registration Cards of 1917-18, he was listed as a "signal repairman." In the records of the Cemetery of Angel Hill in Havre de Grace, his death was in December of 1958.

Barnard is listed as one of the well-known carvers of decoys in the Copley Fine Art Auctions for his Canvasback Drake. It is a 1920 finely sculpted high head Susquehanna flats decoy. From the Copley Records, "he carved a rig of decoys for Maryland's U.S. Senator Millard Tydings, who was a life-long resident of Havre de Grace, at his Oakington Farm. A number of Barnard's famous high head decoys were originally made for his rig."

Jim Lindsey did research for the Barnard Family file in the museum. He also provided the latest program from the Rotary Club of Aberdeen, "The ARC" in which the latest recipient of the Rotary Club's Citizenship Awards for 2013 was presented to William R. Cronin, and that program is placed both in the Rotary file and the family files.

Also placed in the rapidly growing family files are records from the career of D.B. Smith Sr., donated by John Bender of the Board of the Aberdeen Fire Department.

From the Lynn Tanner Estate have come more records for the family files. There is a portrait of Lynn Tanner and a certificate for his wife, Patricia, when she served on the Selective Service Board in 1971. There is also a sign from Rice's Bakery that was built where Lynn Tanner later had his law office.

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