Henry Witcher, Cedartown’s Wooden Toy Artist

Henry Witcher
Henry Witcher

Rome-News Tribune, 1983

“Like many other good men, Henry Witcher first got his motivation from a woman and a rolling pin. Just not in the customary manner so often associated with women and rolling pins. Only the product of that motivation–a woodcraft that perhaps could be described as “whittling and piddling”–could be any less customary…unless of course you consider that Witcher is 93. And the rolling pin?

It all started when his daughter asked him to make one. The small request became a way of keeping busy. His interest grew and grew. The Cedartown craftsman’s string and wind-operated wooden gadgets and toys have since become known in foreign lands. He’s even built “thrones” for people in high places. For instance, former Governor George Busbee owns an outhouse that Witcher made. It was a birthday present and was on display at the governor’s mansion when Busbee was still there.

Witcher specializes in woodcraft of all kinds. His work has been displayed as far away as Germany, England and South America. Witcher has also been featured on television shows on several occasions. Requests for his work comes from many parts of the United States. When he makes an item, most of the time he autographs it. Many of these items he recalls from his own childhood. One of the favorites he enjoyed as a child was the Jacob’s ladder, a toy for children.

He explained that most of his work is done during the morning hours “when it is cool.” A modest man, Witcher explained that he did not think of himself as a craftsman. However, he added he likes “to piddle and play with wood.”

This native Polk Countian attributes his long life to a “belief in God, not worrying and living one day at a time.” Although he enjoys his hobby, Witcher also says he still enjoys other things such as fishing. “Whittling,” he declares, “is good for you. It takes your mind off worry…” He whittles all kinds of things–some to sell and many more “to give away.”

There is a room in his home that is filled with things he has made, plus a workshop that has many tools which he has constructed himself. Most of all, however, Witcher enjoys making things for children. “If you make a friend of a child, you will have a friend for life,” he says.

Proof of his caring for children can be seen in his visits to schools showing his work and telling them of the importance of an education.

Among the items he makes for children are Jacob’s ladder, doll cribs, dancing men, climbing men, men on poles and others. Witcher also makes dough trays, pencil holders, spoons, forks, butter paddles, windmills and other types of old-fashioned articles. All of his items are handmade–even the hinges on some of his old models like wells and his famous out-houses.

He has entered several art shows, including the Berry Patch and the Cave Spring Arts Festival. Witcher has also been featured on television shows on several occasions. Whether he is busy talking to children in school, whittling an item recalled from childhood, or remembering days when he was involved in farming and the dairy business, Henry Witcher leaves little doubt why he’s called “a modest man with an unbelievable talent.”

The PCHS Museum currently houses more than a dozen of Witcher’s wooden toys.