the hollow” southeast of Nashville by about 16 miles. The basket making supplemented the farm that supported his family. A workshop for weaving white oak splints was located right next to the house. Joe made the splints exclusively of white oak. He could make enough splints and weave two bushel baskets in one day. William, Bohall’s son, made the splints and two small baskets in the same length of time. The Bohall basket weavers all used the same method for sizing their splints, or reeds. The family would carry timber on their shoulders down from the hillsides. Splints were then pulled through dies cut in the blade of a cross cut saw, of which there were five sizes. Flower baskets, fruit baskets, corn baskets, clothes baskets, and market baskets were the styles for which the Bohalls were known. Their basket markets were in Bloomington, Columbus, and truckloads were sent to department stores and mail-order firms in Indianapolis. At one time there were 450 baskets stored in the loft that were sold during one tourist season in Nashville.
John Bohall in the late 1920s taken by Frank Hohenberger, Lilly Library Indiana University.
~by Julia Pearson
he Bohall family’s tradition of making baskets was as long as the sevenand-a-half-foot-multiplied-by-a-hundred splints used to make their unique bushel-sized baskets. The Bohall brothers of Brown County: Levi, George, Charles, John and Joe, learned the craft from their father James who had lived along the Muscatatuck River in Jackson County. In 1924 Frank Hohenberger wrote about his visit to the Joe Bohall family in his column “From Down in the Hills o’ Brown County.” Home for Joe and his family was off the Little Blue Creek Road, down a long lane “back into
18 INto ART • April–June 2013
Irene Bohall. photo by Frank Hohenberger, Lilly Library Indiana University.
Published on Apr 5, 2013