William James Feltham, better known as Bill, was born on Deer Island in 1938 to Noah and Daisy Feltham. His paternal grandfather, Caleb Feltham, was one of thirteen men tragically lost on the schooner Little Jap in 1909, shortly after the birth of Bill’s father Noah. Bill’s grandmother remarried to Avlin Feltham, the man that Bill would know as his grandfather.
Bill fished on Deer Island with his father Noah, his grandfather Av, and his Uncle Ralph from eleven to eighteen years old.
“We had a standard motor boat – probably about 26-28 feet long (sometimes called a trapskiff). If the traps were close to the island we used to row to them. There were 3 or 4 oars on each side. I always used to go out in the motor boat with my uncle Ralph, and we’d always have two punts in tow.” Uncle Ralph would be hauling the trawl, while Bill jigged for cod. Bill would always know which fish were his because he cut their tails to mark them when he brought them aboard.
As a boy, Bill recalls helping his father and uncle build boats. “I use to go down to where my uncle Ralph Feltham was building a boat and he used to get me to plane down some of the plank he had there and things like that… I was always interested in shaping the wood.”
When Bill finished high school in 1955, he moved from Deer Island to Glovertown where he became a teacher at Glovertown Academy and raised three children with his wife Edith (nee Butt). In Glovertown, Bill built several boats with his father-in-law Clyde Butt and about half a dozen others on his own.
“One of the first ones I built on my own was in my basement. A good friend of mine came to visit when I had her finished and sized her up. She was painted white and trimmed with red. I can see him now shaking his head,” Bill laughs. “‘Oh my… the Peppermint Knob.’ That’s what he called my boat!”