Frank Feather

[August 2010 update. So far as we know this record still holds. Correct us if you know different.]

Carl Ocker sold a Frank Feather carving in 2007 for $18,700 at Kenny’s Auction.

A brief summary*, for those unfamiliar, of the background of our famed local artist tramp:
Frank Feather was born in Jamestown, New York in 1877 and died in 1951 at the age of 74.

Frank Feather was a well-known transient in the Cumberland Valley area.
Many towns in southern Franklin County and northern Washington Co. claim him as their own.

He was the eighth of nine children. The Feather family immigrated to the colonies from England, their family having been weavers and loomers. At a young age, in his teens, Frank began his transient lifestyle. There are as many stories about Frank Feather as there were homes that he visited. Many of the stories have become legend. Frank help perpetuate the myths by often changing the information he told about himself. He was ever vigilant trying to maintain his privacy. His God given talent of carving was recognized early on by people in the homes he would stop at for a meal or overnight boarding.
From time to time, he would be hired for a job but leave before completing his assignment.

Frank Feather was a tall man with angular facial features. He appeared menacing to some with his lumbering gait probably caused by the two to four coats he would most always wear. He was a private man whom never shared overnight accommodations with other “bums”; not thinking of himself as a bum. Feather kept himself as clean as possible, despite living on the road. He was neat- prepared his bedding of feed sacks spread atop loose straw, which he would fold neatly and carry for next time.        He was a drinker, and went on binges at times.

Frank Feather never allowed anyone to watch him carving except very young children whom he felt confident would not remember or be able to copy his techniques. He is known to have carved in stone as well as wood. The wooden articles ranged from canes to racks for papers, letters, combs & brushes, to spoons, wall plaques, & “books”.
He had several distinctive designs that he often used on his carvings that are now used in identifying a Frank Feather piece. They are the acorn, keystone, cross, and a butterfly in his early years that eventually evolved into a daisy.

Many of his carvings were words of truth… FAITH, LOVE, CHARITY or GOD IS OUR REFUGE & STRENGTH.

He would sometimes personalize pieces carving his name or initials, in other only “FF”, but would on occasion camouflage his initials into the work. Others were unsigned. Many are dated.

Frank Feather died indigent in a Frederick hospital, his ashes buried in the common grave.
*This is a slightly trimmed version of the summary available from GREENCASTLE MUSEUM