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The following was compiled from, a Biography of Charles H. Perdew, written by Don Clark, and from a interview conducted by Cay Clark with Mrs. Almira Clark (wife of the author).

or fifty years Don Clark was a boat pusher and duck guide for the Swan Lake Duck Club (just north of Henry, Illinois). A boat pusher takes the hunters to the duck blinds, puts out decoys, and calls the ducks in as they fly over so they can be shot in flight as they come into range. Originally live birds were used as decoys, but for repeated use and controlled place-ment more and more hunters used wooden decoys. Because of the keen eye sight of the ducks, the decoys needed to be as realistic as possible. Charles H. (Charlie) Perdew, also of Henry, made decoys and duck calls for waterfowlers in Swan Lake and other duck clubs in the area.

on Clark used Perdew’s decoys and duck calls and later wrote the biography of this extraordinary man. Charles Perdew was born in Putnam County, Illinois on a farm about three miles east of Henry, Illinois on April 30, 1874. He and his brothers helped on the family farm and it was here t m t c t r

and cut some of the charring away to make Bluebill duck decoys. He used these decoys to shoot ducks near his home, selling them in the Chicago market. Little did he know that this practical endeavor would someday help turn wooden ducks into American folk art that would be in demand by collectors all over the world.

harles Perdew had many talents and many paths to follow before he made a name for himself carving duck decoys. In 1889 Charlie went to Chicago, where he worked as a meat packer and then as a carpenter “to help put together” the Chicago Worlds Fair of 1893. He also attended the Chicago Art Institute to study painting. Soon after, he left Chicago and returned to Henry. Among his seemingly endless abilities, Charlie punched cattle,

operated a shooting gallery, opened a bicycle shop, sold and repaired guns, and built boats. He farmed, hunted, fished, and trapped. He made his own wooden false teeth and his own eyeglasses, and he began again to make duck decoys. In 1902 Charlie married Edna Haddon of Henry who started painting his duck and crow decoys. Between 1903 – 1909 Charlie perfected his crow call and patented it November 2, 1909. Also during those years he built a new home and shop across the street from their first home. Here Charlie and Edna remained until his death.

ogether the Perdews worked and watched the decoy business grow. In 1924 Charlie entered a pair of handmade mallard decoys in a decoy contest at Abercrombie & Fitch of New York and won second place for his craftsmanship. The Perdews made and sold thousands of decoys over the years, as many as 300 each season. But Charlie especially enjoyed turning out a decoy for a customer to give for a birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion. In the mid 30’s he started making ornamental decoys; miniature and half-size decoys and life size birds of all kinds. Edna Perdew did all the painting until 1941, when she contracted an illness that prevented her from painting. Charlie then carved and painted, but

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