History of the Plott By Erma Alexander Plotts
Peter Hildebrand was born in 1655 in the Palatine region in southwest Germany. In 1690, along with his wife Mary and three sons, Peter left Germany and traveled by ship to New York. A few years later, the Hildebrands would move to Lancaster county Pennsylvania. This while not the start of German immigration to the New World was a Bavarian crumb trail, which would eventually lead to North Carolina. In 1764, the ship Hero docked in Philadelphia, PA. Onboard, Conrad Hildebrand I, grandson of Peter. Conrad would move on to North Carolina where he became an extensive landowner. It is said that state land grants gave him all land located between Henry River and Jacob’s Fork River. Conrad flourished as a businessman and would later own a grist and powder mill which would help Americans fight the Revolutionary war. With land in what is now Mecklenburg, Catawba and Burke counties, it is hard to imagine that young Johannes (George) Plott did not come into contact with the Hildebrands as he made his way across North Carolina. The Palatinate region in Germany was a highly contested piece of property. Romans ruled it as well as the German monarchy however it had been besieged by both the French and British during the 1600 and 1700s. In fact, the area was at war from 1618-1648 during the 30 year war. King Louis XIV even threw his hat in the ring from 1689-1697. This was a war torn land that the Hildebrands and later the Plotts would leave. Why they left is pure conjecture and speculation but I like to think it is a combination of personal safety, financial security and religious free- dom that would see these two German families immigrate to a great unknown land. The Hildebrands would bring with them business sense and savvy while the Plotts great carry-on baggage would be five of their families best dogs. If you could search on Google Earth 1800, the area that the Johannes (George) Plott left in the Black Forest area of
Germany would look remarkably like the land that his family would eventually settle in the mountains of western North Carolina. The Black Forest, given its name by Romans for its perpetual darkness, even in daylight, averages between 2000-4000 feet in elevation with a highest point near 5000 feet. Tall pine trees nearly blocked out the Sun by day much like my home in North Carolina. Certainly in Johannes Plotts memories there was a resemblance. The area around Waynesville, NC is gor- geous. The mountains are tall, the gorges are deep and the abundance of game is unrivalled. This was both a dream come true for a hunter as well as a nightmare. In the Garmin friendly days of today it is absolutely astonishing that anyone ever made it home from these celebrated bear hunts. This land is unforgiving both to man and dog and it is no wonder the leg- end of the Plotts both family and dog grew exponentially from the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s.
share a slight difference of opinion as to what the perfect Plott is, John and Von also had differences. In reading Bob Plott’s book, Strike & Stay- The Story of the Plott Hound , one will quickly see the dif- ferences in the style of dogs these brothers hunted. Von’s hounds were in fact hounds. Longer, low set ears and heavier boned bodies were at the end of Von’s leash while his brother John had the higher set, short- er ear of a cur. This is just a guess but I bet around the Thanksgiving table the conver- sation went like this: Von: “Whew doggie that was a race. Ole Happy struck a trail so cold that his nose near fell off from frostbite. That ole bear’s tracks must have been a month old but Balsam and Link put him up a tree.” John: “I heard that race Von. I couldn’t tell if you was on a bear or someone had escaped from the prison again.” You see John Plott was said to adhere more strictly to his father’s taste in Plotts. Cur-like features and grit to spare. In time, the official Plott standard would be writ- ten in favor of John’s ideal Plott but as breeders and judges you will still see the effects of both of these great houndsmen. Let’s dive into the standard for a minute. I want to cover some portions of the standard because they are the basic defining points of the breed. Granted, no one trait is a “Plott” it takes all but these two pieces really set them apart from the other five coonhound breeds. As I like to say at my seminars, the Spinone is the hound of the sporting group and the Plott is the sporting dog of the hound group. What I mean by this is that a Plott is not
The Plotts of yesterday and today show very little change. In fact, I can find you a dozen real live Plotts today that we can match to photos from yesterday. The biggest changes in the breed type itself actually occurred within the Plott family itself. John and Vaughn (Von) Plott were brothers and the sons of Montraville Plott. Just as many of today’s Plott breeders
216 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE • M ARCH 2011
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