The first box-style turkey call was patented in 1897 by an Arkansas farmer and fence supply manager, Henry C. Gibson, of Dardanelle. Though there may have been box calls before his patent, Gibson sparked a new industry with many imitators creating box-type turkey calls. The call pictured here is definitely one of the finest known examples of his work. The entire surface is decorated.

The first set of images shows the scenes depicts on the side of the call's box. First a log cabin scene with rifle leaning against the door and a strutting tom turkey with the quote; "Time when we were boys" That sugests the Gibson knew the owner of this call very well. The opposite side of the call captures two dogs on point and again a quote; " The age in which we live"

The owner's name is etched on the paddle; J C Jonson, Greenville, KY. Did a little searching on the internet and found some interesting information. First according to the 1910 census Jep C. Jonson was a laywer from Greenville living with his son, W C Jonson. In a later census I was able to find William Crawford Jonson who also lived in Greenville. Easy to assume this was Jep's son. Interesingly William's mother was Mary Gibson who was born n Little Rock Arkansas. Unfortunately there were too many hits on "Mary Gibson" for me to pin point or prove that she was related to Henry C Gibson, but seems logical to me. So Jep C. Jonson was most likely J.C. Jonson owner of this turkey call.


Another feature illustrated in this set of images is the hole on the bottom. Seeing as it is decorated it seemed to me that it served a special purpose. I found a possible answer in Howard Harlan's Turkey Calls~ An Enduring American Folk Art on page 51 where Howard decribes another intricately decorated Gibson Turkey call which has the same type hole in its bottom. His theory is: "It (Howard's Gibson call) is elaborately carved on the top of the paddle. It is, moreover, unique in that it has an aditional tone board inserted into the bottom of the trough, wedged in and supported by a dowel, similar to the dowel used in violin constuction. This aditional tone board adds quality to the resonance of the call..."

As I look into the hole in our call, it appears to be a holder for chalk which would be used to coat the underside of the paddle. The hole is approximately 2 inches deep and 1/2 inch in diameter and there is a light coating on white chalk down inside the chamber.

Lastly One end on the call's box is dated 1908 and the other is decorated with four leaf clover for luck.