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THE SPORTSMAN'S COLLECTION
Donated by George V. Soule: Duck Decoy Designer and Wood Carver
George Soule owned and operated the Decoy Shop for 35 years next to his home on Staples Point in Freeport, Maine. George first went to work at L.L. Bean while attending Freeport High School. After graduation, he assumed a fulltime job as a fly tyer. Leon Leonwood Bean, the store’s founder, would occasionally invite him to an afternoon of hunting.
George noticed the awkward collection of decoys L.L. was using, and proposed he could make a better, more realistic decoy out of old refrigerator cork. He made and sold more than 200,000 of the popular decoys to duck hunters worldwide through the L.L. Bean catalog and elsewhere. From the 1930’s to the 60’s, his company produced a variety of decoys, as well as his decorative hand-painted decoy lamps.
After selling his business and retiring at 65, George continued to make hand-carved, hand-painted fancy duck decoys, as well as duck calls, to order. Back in the day, one of his duck calls was known to sell at auction for $750.00. He was an avid hunter, teaching shooting and hunter safety for L.L. Bean.
George Soule was a founder of the Ruffled Grouse Society in Maine, which granted yearly scholarships in his name. He was also a member of Ducks Unlimited and Freeport’s Rod and Gun Club. When the club disbanded, the remaining funds were given to the library to start the special “Sportsman’s Collection.” Hunting and fishing books were supplemented from private collections.
George was a well-known and respected sportsman throughout his life, and by donating and creating this collection for the library, he was able to share his love of all things hunting.
Information adopted from an article from the Portland Press Herald, April 2, 1996
THE BARTOL ROOM
The Bartol Room, named after B. H. Bartol, includes books on Maine and Freeport subjects, a reference section for use within the library, and our collection of Freeport school yearbooks. Please note: The Freeport Historical Society has a digitized and more complete run of these yearbooks. The Bartol Room’s reference collection includes the Dunning books. Colonel Thurlow R. Dunning, who died in the mid-1970’s, compiled notebooks of Freeport family history that have been indexed by family name, copied and bound. Colonel Dunning also made lists of inscriptions he found on headstones in local cemeteries and we also have these on record. Several of the Dunning books and a few other items have been scanned and are available online at the Digital Maine Repository.