Showsight Presents the Treeing Walker Coonhound

TREEING WALKER HISTORY

Joseph B. Thomas, M.F.H. of Middleburg, Virginia, wrote the first comprehensive book on hound hunting in the United States. Published in 1928, his Hounds and Hunting Through the Ages is a treasure trove of information on the development of the Walker hound. We know from our own Treeing Walker history that John W. Walker and George Washington Maupin, known as Wash, owned a great pack of foxhounds in what is now Garrard County, Kentucky. Their pack was known for its great speed and ability to run fox to the ground. Running to ground meant that the pack would put so much pressure on the fox that it would be forced to find a hole, a place of refuge, or die. We also know that along with the influx of settlers to Kentucky, the imported Red Fox would make its way west as well. The Red Fox, which is bigger and faster than the indigenous Gray Fox, would soon put the pack to a test that would see them fail more often than not. An excerpt from Hounds and Hunting Through the Ages would tell of Walker/Mau- pin’s endeavors to speed up their pack: “In the early fifties (1850s), General Maupin and his friends imported many dogs from South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland, sparing no expense to improve their stock. In 1857, they imported from England, I think, three dogs, Fox, Rifle, and Marth. About this time, General Maupin got from east Tennessee the dog, Tennessee Lead, which he, Maupin, thought the best he ever owned.” These men went to the ends of the Earth to produce a dog that could run a fox to ground, and as you can tell, money was no object. The story of Tennessee Lead is known to ALL Treeing Walker enthusiasts as it is not only the foundation stone for which our breed was built, but also a metaphor for the people who today enjoy the fruits of Lead’s progeny. For those who don’t know the story of Tennessee Lead, I will briefly discuss his “acquisition.” Tom Harris was a drover. He would drive livestock from Ten- nessee to Kentucky and back, as well as haul merchandise. On a return trip from Tennessee, Tom heard a pack of hounds chasing a deer. He was in the mountains, just south of the Obey River basin, when one hound could be heard well ahead of the rest. Harris, a consummate salesman who knew his clientele well, would catch this dog and deliver him to Madison County, Kentucky, where George Washington Maupin bought him, bred to him, and forever marked the evolution of the American running hound. The dog, known as Tennessee Lead, did not look like the foxhounds of the day. He was a small, black and tan-colored dog with a rat tail. What he lacked in looks he made up for with speed, drive, and game sense. His clear, short mouth was easy to hear, but his ability to reproduce was why he was bred to all of Maupin’s and Walker’s top bitches. Turning to Joe Thomas’ book: “The cross of the English dogs, and especially the Lead cross on their previous importations, produced a dog which has justly become famous and has become known as the Maupin dog. This strain has been pre- served and bred with great care by WS Walker and Brothers, of Gar- rard County, Kentucky, and are known today as the Walker dogs.” A DISTINCTIVE HOUND By 1868, the Maupins had a very distinctive hound. This type would be preserved firstly through the efforts of Jason Walker, as 1868 was the year that Wash Maupin would die. From 1870 on, we are completely indebted to the Walker brothers. WS, Arch, and Wade Walker’s records would show that the dogs were sold to people in Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, and throughout the South by 1900. With the turning of the century came a new sport to play with hounds; the field trial. It was these field trials, and later, nite hunts, that would take these “Walker Hounds” from the Fox- hound packs of the well-off into the hard-working hands of the common man.

As you can see, surveying of land parcels was a very important job in colonial days and even after the Revolutionary War, in fact. Thomas Jefferson would enlist the services of family friend, guard- ian, and Loyal Land Company owner Thomas Walker to pick up where Peter Jefferson had left off and continue the surveying expe- dition of what is now the Kentucky/Tennessee border. THE LEGACY OF THOMAS WALKER Thomas Walker was a physician and an explorer. He had explored what is now the Allegheny mountains, named the Cumberland River, and explored present day Kentucky nineteen years BEFORE Daniel Boone. As head of the Loyal Land Com- pany, Walker had secured a land grant of 800,000 acres in what is now Southeastern Kentucky. He led an expedition to survey this land in 1750. Following the Revolutionary War, in fact, even after Thomas Jefferson became President, the boundary between Kentucky and Tennessee was still in dispute. At the age of 64, Thomas Walker was again commissioned to survey the boundary in question and establish what became fittingly known as “The Walker Line.” Louisa. That is the name that Dr. Thomas Walker gave to the land the Native Americans called Ken-tuck-E. He would name the Cumberland River and the Cumberland Gap, which would later be the porthole into the expansion west of America, known as the “Wilderness Road.” An excerpt from his personal journal would show that along with the supplies for his exploration, Dr. Walker, an avid hunter, would also take along a pack of dogs to help feed the party. “Two of their horses were bitten by snakes, which I successfully treated with bear grease. One horse choked on reeds that grew along the streams, and I drenched its throat with much water. One dog was badly injured in a fight with a bear, and was carried on horse- back for seven days—until he was able to travel.” – Excerpt from Dr. Walker’s Diary This love of hounds and hunting would be passed on to his 12 children, grandchildren, and so on. These descendents would settle in North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and Mis- souri, but it is the Kentucky Walkers who are given credit for the development of the Walker hound.

SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 2021 | 235

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