26 Nov 2013

Havery Ward, The Last Shovel Maker

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Harvey Ward was known as, The Last Scoop Maker. That title came to him from the documentary that film maker, Jack Ofield made about his scoop making that was broadcast on PBS in 1974. Harvey was the last of his family line to make wooden shovels for a living. Each wooden shovel was cut with an ax and carved out by hand. He made scoops just about everyday of his life, starting when he was about 14 years old or for about 78 years. Making a Wooden Scoop requires a great deal of upper body strength. Harvey managed to perfect his craft so well that the entire process of building a scoop from start to finish was done in 51 minutes. He claims he wasn’t the fastest though. That titled belonged to his father, Joseph, who was not only renowned for making the fastest shovels but also for an extremely smooth finish which was achieved with a single ax head. Harvey used a double ax head for his craft.

Harvey’s family made “scoops” for hundreds of years which was traced back to his Delaware Indian roots. In Native American tribes families were assigned roles. Harvey’s family was assigned to make all the wood tools and other wooden utilitarian ware needed by the tribe.

In the 1700-1800s, in the northeastern United States there were plenty of wooded forests. In later years, Native American’s traded beaver skins with the English to obtain metal tools. These metal tools made making wooden shovels and handcrafted objects much easier. Often tribesmen melted down the metal and customized their own tools to suit their needs.

Harvey’s family made wooden bowls and plates to eat off of and other needed objects such as firewood boxes. The tradition was passed down from one generation to another until Harvey and his brothers were taught as teenagers to make wooden shovels.

Last Shovel Maker from Jack Ofield on Vimeo.

4 Feedbacks on "Havery Ward, The Last Shovel Maker"

Jake leichty

I have a shovel by Harv and also a decorative set of a fork and spoon carved by Harv. The man I got them from said he purchased from Harvey’s daughter and she told him they might be the only decorative pieces he did. They are about 3 feet in length and were meant to hang on wall. Could you tell me anything about them? And then what to do with them. They should be preserved.


I am pretty sure that I have one of Harvey’s awesome wooden scoop shovels. There is no markings, name or initials on it, but it looks identical, I acquired it about 25 years ago from an old barn in Pennsylvania.
Can you tell me how I can be sure if it is one of Harvey’s creations.
Thank you,
Please reply

Rick Emerson

A wonderful old craftsman. A shame these guys are all almost gone

John Ward

My name is John Ward, Harvey Ward was my great grandfather. My family and I greatly appreciate Jack Ofield and staff who took the time and attention to honoring my Great grandfather. He and his wife, Grace, were fantastic people. At the time, Jack had one of the top-of-the-line cameras and everything was preserved so beautifully. I recall as a young child going to my great grandparent’s home in “Shanty town” which is located in Sidney NY. In the video, you can see his workshop, but the other building was their home. It was located on a dead-end dirt path, very close to the railroad tracks. That’s why you can hear the train horn so clearly in the video. This video takes me back to my childhood and the memories of those very simple but loving times. Thanks to all for posting and viewing this video. Special thanks again to Jack Ofield and partner who assisted him in the making of this video.


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