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OFRN HISTORY

History
Old Family Red Nose



THE STORY OF THE OLD FAMILY REDS. It has always seemed to me that the good old Pit Bull is a breed that is at once primitive and futuristic. He looks no more out of place in the ancient landscapes of 16th century paintings than he does in the ultra-modern setting. It is beyond my capabilities to imagine an end to him, for every generation seems to supply a nucleus of hard core devotees completely committed to the breed. In any case, you can look into the murky past, and you will find it difficult to discern a beginning place for the breed, and, fortunately, the future seems to threaten no demise either.

Ours is a breed that has a definite mystique. Part of it, no doubt, stems from the fact that it is an old breed and deeply steeped in tradition. Old strains are a particularly fascinating part of this tradition, and the Old Family Red Nose is one of the better-known old strains.

The appearance of the red-nosed dogs always attracts attention, but it takes a little getting used to for some people to consider them truly beautiful. However, no one denies that they radiate "class." Characteristically, a dog of the red-nosed strain has a copper-red nose, red lips, red toe nails, and red or amber eyes. Some think the strain was bred for looks. Others consider any dog that just happens to have a red nose to be pure Old Family Red Nose. It is hoped that the following will dispel such notions.

About the middle of the last century there was a family of pit dogs in Ireland bred and fought chiefly in the counties of Cork and Kerry that were known as the "Old Family." In those days, pedigrees were privately kept and jealously guarded. Purity of the strains was emphasized to the extent that breeders hardly recognized another strain as being the same breed. For that reason all the strains were closely inbred. And whenever you have a closed genetic pool of that type, you are likely to have a slide toward the recessive traits, because the dominants, once discarded, are never recaptured. Since red is recessive to all colors but white, the "Old Family" eventually became the "Old Family Reds." When the dogs began coming to America, many were already beginning to show the red nose.

The "Old Family" dogs found their way to America mainly via immigrants. For example, Jim Corcoran came to this country to fight the world heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan, and stayed to become a Boston policeman. He sent for dogs from his parents back in Ireland, and his importations and expertise as a great breeder have earned him a prominent place in American (Pit) Bull Terrier history. Many other Irish immigrants also sent back to their families to request for dogs, and the "Old Family" and related strains became firmly established in the United States.

At this point, there are several factors that are somewhat confusing to a student of the breed. For one thing, the term "family dogs" was used in two ways: It could mean a strain of dogs that was a family unto itself that was kept by a number of unrelated people in Ireland, or it could refer to a strain of dogs that was kept and preserved through the years by a family group. However, the old Family Reds seem to be of the first category. Another point that arises is that with all these importations from Ireland (and there were importations from other countries, including Spain), where do we get off calling our breed the American Bull Terrier! Well. ..that's a point! The breed does not really belong to anyone country or even anyone era! However, I don't believe many people are in favor of changing the name of the breed even though it is not strictly an American breed. For that matter, it is not really a Bull Terrier, either! But the name American (Pit) Bull Terrier has become part of that tradition we were talking about, and I think most of us prefer to keep it as a formal name for the breed.

Back to the Old Family Reds. The first big splash made by the red noses was back around 1900 when the great breeder William J. Lightner, utilizing Old Family Red bloodlines, came up with some red-nosed dogs that really made a name for themsel ves. Now Lightner once told me that he did not breed for that red-nosed coloration. In fact, he did not even like it and he only put up with it because the individual dogs were of such high quality. Eventually Lightner gave up the red-nosed strain when he moved from Louisiana to Colorado, where he came up with a new strain that consisted of small dark-colored dogs with black noses. He had given up on the other strain because they were running too big for his taste and because he didn't like the red noses.

At this point in our story we come upon a comical, but highly-respected, figure in the personage of Dan McCoy. I have heard old-time dog men from all over the country talk about this man. Apparently, he was an itinerant fry cook and not much of a success in life judged by normal standards, but he didn't care about that. What he did care about were Pit Bulldogs, and he had a wealth of knowledge about the breed. His uncanny ability to make breedings that "clicked" made him a respected breeding consultant and a most welcome guest at any dog man's house-even if he had just dropped off a freight train!

Always with his ear to the ground regarding anything that involved APBT's, McCoy got wind of the fact that an old Frenchman in Louisiana by the name of Bourgeous had preserved the old Lightner red-nosed strain. So he and Bob Hemphill went to that area, and with the aid of Gaboon Trahan of Lafayette, they secured what was left of the dogs. McCoy took his share to the Panhandle of Texas and placed them with his associates L. C. Owens, Arthur Harvey and Buck Moon. He then played a principal role in directing the breedings that were made by these fanciers. And from this enclave came such celebrated dogs as Harvey's Red Devil and Owens (Fergusons) Centipede. Hemphill eventually kept only dogs of the red-nosed strain. According to Hemphill, it was McCoy who first started using the term "Old Family Red Nose" for the strain.

Another breeder who was almost synonymous with the red-nosed strain was Bob Wallace. However, Bob's basic bloodline was not pure Old Family Red Nose. But in the late 40's he was looking for the red-nosed strain in order to make an "outcross." (Bob was a scrupulously careful breeder who planned his breedings years in advance.) Unfortunately, he found that the strain was nearly gone, most of it having been ruined by careless breedings. He managed to obtain seven pure red-noses of high quality whose pedigrees he could authenticate. The strain was subsequently saved for posterity and in the 1950's became the fashionable strain in Pit Bull circles. In fact, it was Bob Wallace himself who wrote an article in 1953 called "There Is No Magic in Red Noses" in which he tried to put a damper on the overly enthusiastic claims being made by some of the admirers of the strain. No more fervent admirer of the Old Family Reds ever lived than Wallace, but he obviously felt that the strain could stand on its own merits.

Many stains have been crossed with the Old Family Reds at some time in their existence. Consequently, nearly any strain will occasionally throw a red-nosed pup. To many fanciers, these red-nosed individuals are Old Family Red Noses even though the great preponderance of their blood is that of other strains. Sometimes such individuals will fail to measure up and thereby reflect undeserved discredit on the rcd-nosed strain. However, as Wallace said, the red noses should not be considered invincible either. They produce their share of bad ones as well as good ones-just as all strains do.

As a strain, the Old Family Red Nose has several things going for it. First, it is renowned for its gameness. Second, some of the most reputable breeders in all Pit Bull history have contributed to the preservation and development of the strain. People like Lightner, McClintock. Menefee and Wallace, to mention just a few. Finally, as McNolty said in his 30-30 Journal (1967) "Regardless of one's historical perspective, these old amber-eyed, red-nosed, red-toe-nailed, red-coated dogs represent some of the most significant pit bull history and tradition that stands on four legs today."



About the Red, Red Nosed
Written by Richard F. Stratton
* Appeared in the January-February, 1975 issue of Bloodlines Journal

No one really knows when these dogs first came to this country, but the great breeder William J. Lightner once told me that his grandfather raised them before the Civil War. It is quite possible that they were even here during the Revolutionary War. In any case, it is clear that dogs of this breed came from various parts of Europe, specifically Spain and Sicily. But little is known about these earliest importations, because nothing was written about them. (Books and periodicals containing information about dogs were rare in those days.) Their existence can be inferred from artwork, however. The most famous importations were from Ireland, and were generally made by the Irish themselves after they emigrated to this country.(The bulk of the Irish pit dog importations coincides or closely follows the great Irish migration that resulted from the famous potato famine.) Most of the Irish dogs were small and very closely inbred, but their gameness was proverbial-especially that of the group of strains that was known as the Old Family. The following article Ion the Old Family Reds (just one segment of the Old Family bloodlines) is reprinted from Bloodlines Journal.
 
The Story of the Old Family Reds Written by Richard F. Stratton

This is the American Pitbull Terrier First, an overview. No one really knows when these dogs first came to this country, but the great breeder William J. Lightner once told me that his grandfather raised them before the Civil War. It is quite possible that they were even here during the Revolutionary War. In any case, it is clear that dogs of this breed came from various parts of Europe, specifically Spain and Sicily. But little is known about these earliest importation's, because nothing was written about them. (Books and periodicals containing information about dogs were rare in those days.) Their existence can be inferred from artwork, however. The most famous importation's were from Ireland, and were generally made by the Irish themselves after they emigrated to this country. (The bulk of the Irish pit dog importation's coincides or closely follows the great Irish migration that resulted from the famous potato famine.) Most of the Irish dogs were small and very closely inbred, but their gameness was proverbial especially that of the group of strains that was the "Old Family Reds" (just one segment of the Old Family bloodlines) is reprinted from Bloodlines Journal. It has always seemed to me that the good old Pit Bull is a breed that is at once primitive and futuristic. He looks no more out of place in the ancient landscapes of 16th century paintings than he does in the ultra-modern setting. It is beyond my capabilities to imagine an end to him, for every generation seems to supply a nucleus of hard core devotees completely committed to the breed. In any case, you can look into the murky past, and you will find it difficult to discern a beginning place for the breed, and, fortunately, the future seems to threaten no demise either. Ours is a breed that has a definite mystique. Part of it, no doubt, stems from the fact that it is an old breed and deeply steeped in tradition. Old strains are a particularly fascinating part of this tradition, and the Old Family Red Nose is one of the better known old strains. The appearance of the red-nosed dogs always attracts attention, but it takes a little getting used to for some people to consider them truly beautiful. However, no one denies that they radiate "class." Characteristically, a dog of the red-nosed strain has a copper-red nose, red lips, red toe nails, and red or amber eyes. Some think the strain was bred for looks. Others consider any dog that just happens to have a red nose to be pure Old Family Red Nose. It is hoped that the following will dispel such notions. About the middle of the last century there was a family of pit dogs in Ireland bred and fought chiefly in the counties of Cork and Kerry that were known as the "Old Family." In those days, pedigrees were privately kept and jealously guarded. Purity of the strains was emphasized to the extent that breeders hardly recognized another strain as being the same breed. For that reason all the strains were closely inbred. And whenever you have a closed genetic pool of that type, you are likely to have a slide toward the recessive traits, because the dominants, once discarded, are never recaptured. Since red is recessive to all colors but white, the "Old Family" eventually became the "Old Family Reds." When the dogs began coming to America, many were already beginning to show the red nose. The "Old Family" dogs found their way to America mainly via immigrants. For example, Jim Corcoran came to this country to fight the world heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan, and stayed to become a Boston policeman. He sent for dogs from his parents back in Ireland, and his importation's and expertise as a great breeder have earned him a prominent place in American (Pit) Bull Terrier history. Many other Irish immigrants also sent back to their families to request for dogs, and the "Old Family" and related strains became firmly established in the United States. At this point, there are several factors that are somewhat confusing to a student of the breed. For one thing, the term "family dogs" was used in two ways: It could mean a strain of dogs that was a family unto itself that was kept by a number of unrelated people in Ireland, or it could refer to a strain of dogs that was kept and preserved through the years by a family group. However, the old Family Reds seem to be of the first category. Another point that arises is that with all these importation's from Ireland (and there were importation's from other countries, too including Spain), where do we get off calling our breed the American Bull Terrier! Well...that's a point! The breed does not really belong to any one country or even any one era! However, I don't believe many people are in favor of changing the name of the breed even though it is not strictly an American breed. For that matter, it is not really a Bull Terrier, either! But the name American (Pit) Bull Terrier has become part of that tradition we were talking about, and I think most of us prefer to keep it as a formal name for the breed. Back to the Old Family Reds. The first big splash made by the red noses was back around 1900 when the great breeder William J. Lightner, utilizing Old Family Red bloodlines, came up with some red-nosed dogs that really made a name for themselves. Now Llightner once told me that he did not breed for that red-nosed coloration. In fact, he did not even like it and he only put up with it because the individual dogs were of such high quality. Eventually Lightner gave up the red-nosed strain when he moved from Louisiana to Colorado, where he came up with a new strain that consisted of small dark-colored dogs with black noses. He had given up on the other strain because they were running too big for his taste and because he didn't like the red noses. At this point in our story we come upon a comical, but highly respected, figure in the personage of Dan McCoy. I have heard old-time dog men from all over the country talk about this man. Apparently, he was an itinerant fry cook and not much of a success in life judged by normal standards, but he didn't care about that. What he did care about were Pit Bulldogs, and he had a wealth of knowledge about the breed. His uncanny ability to make breedings that "clicked" made him a respected breeding consultant and a most welcome guest at any dog man's house even if he had just dropped off a freight train! Always with his ear to the ground regarding anything that involved APBT's, McCoy got wind of the fact that an old Frenchman in Louisiana by the name of Bourgeous had preserved the old Lightner red-nosed strain. So he and Bob Hemphill went to that area, and with the aid of Gaboon Trahan of Lafayette, they secured what was left of the dogs. McCoy took his share to the Panhandle of Texas and placed them with his associates L.C. Owens, Arthur Harvey and Buck Moon. He then played a principal role in directing the breedings that were made by these fanciers. And from this enclave came such celebrated dogs as Harvey's Red Devil and Owens (Fergusons) Centipede. Hemphill eventually kept only dogs of the re-nosed strain. According to Hemphill, it was McCoy who first started using the term "Old Family Red Nose" for the strain. Another breeder who was almost synonymous with the red-nosed strain was Bob Wallace. However, Bob's basic bloodline was not pure Old Family Red Nose. But in the late 40's he was looking for the red-nosed strain in order to make an "out cross." (Bob was a scrupulously careful breeder who planned his breedings years in advance.) Unfortunately, he found that the strain was nearly gone, most of it having been ruined by careless breedings. He managed to obtain seven pure red-noses of high quality whose pedigrees he could authenticate. The strain subsequently saved for posterity and in the 1950's became the fashionable strain in Pit Bull circles. In fact, it was Bob Wallace himself who wrote an article in 1953 called "There Is No Magic in Red Noses" in which he tried to put a damper on the overly enthusiastic claims being made by some of the admirers of the strain. No more fervent admirer of the Old Family Reds ever lived than Wallace, but he obviously felt that the strain could stand on its own merits. Many strains have been crossed with the Old Family Reds at some time in their existence. Consequently, nearly any strain will occasionally throw a red-nosed pup. To many fanciers, these red-nosed individuals are Old Family Red Noses even though the great preponderance of their blood is that of other strains. Sometimes such individuals will fail to measure up and thereby reflect undeserved discredit on the red-nosed strain. However, as Wallace said, the red noses should not be considered invincible either. They produce their share of bad ones as well as good ones just as all strains do. As a strain, the Old Family Red Nose has several things going for it. First, it is renowned for its gameness. Second, some of the most reputable breeders in all Pit Bull history have contributed to the preservation and development of the strain. People like Lightner, McClintock, Menefee and Wallace, to mention just a few. "Regardless of one's historical perspective, these old amber eyed, rednosed, red-toe-nailed, red coated dogs represent some of the most significant pit bull history and tradition that stands on four legs today." Richard F Stratton
 
THE "OLD FAMILY RED NOSE" DOGS By E.L. Mullins.

First of all, this is not a review. I cannot possibly say anything concerning the "Old Family Red Nose" dogs that has not already been repeated a hundred times before. This, therefore, is simply another record of what history has already given us and a re-introduction to the very significant part of the history of the American Pit Bull Terrier.

When we discuss the origin of the "Old Family Red Nose" dogs, we are really discussing the original dogs bred by such men as William J. Lightner and Con Feeley. It was around 1914-1916 that Red Howell, Al Dickson and Joe Peace had dogs from the first litters off of Lightner's "Vick" and Lightner's "Pansy". When the first World War came along, Joe Peace and Al Dickson were drafted and Red Howell was left with the dogs. Red Howell sold some of the dogs, however, most of the dogs he placed in capable and reliable hands of those he knew he could trust. During this time they were known as just food pit dogs. The name "Red Nose", at the time, had never been used to describe a particular line of dogs. It would be Dan McCoy who would later be credited as the first man to coin the phrase, "Old Family Red Nose" dogs to describe and distinguish these dogs as an individual line or strain of the American Pit Bull Terrier. History later gave us the litter of Ferguson's "Centipede", Hemphill's "Golddust", Morris' "Pinkie", and Howell's "Banjo", as well as their close relative, William's "Cyclone".

Robert H.(Bob) Hemphill, along with Red Howell, went to the kennel of Harvey and Owens in Amarillo, Texas and together they purchased "Golddust". "Golddust", of course, later went to Harry Clark and then to D.A. McClintock, where he died. Earl Tudor obtained "Centipede". "Centipede" was then loaned to Red Howell. Later, Earl Tudor sold "Centipede" to Dave Ferguson. Earl Tudor was also the man who owned the dog called "Cyclone" and eventually sold him to Jim Williams's. It is felt that if Earl Tudor and Red Howell had not won such great battles with these dogs mentioned above, as well as other, that made this particular line so popular. This was the first time you really began to hear about "Red Nose" dogs as a strain.

Now, not all of the offspring were whelped "Red Nose" from this stock. Some people still feel that the blood in the Con Feeley dogs was much more "Red Nose" then that of the Lightner dogs. It is said W.C.(Bill) Roper bred some of the best "Red Nose" dogs, sent to him by Jim Williams and Bob Wallace. I.D. Cole of Arizona also bred some extremely high caliber dogs, bred down from Slattery's "Mike" and William's "Blade". I.D. Cole also owned Cole's (Fulkerson's) "Spook", a direct grandson of the old Lightner's "Spook". However, the "Red Nose" dogs were never controlled by any one individual or select group of individuals. Many of the "Red Nose" dogs were produced through different crosses. In fact, there were many breeders and fanciers of the "Old Family Red Nose" dogs. There were men such as W.J. Lightner, Con Feeley, J.P. Colby, D.A. McClintock, Dan McCoy, Harvey and Owens, Ferguson, Ferrel, Conklin, Anderson, Bourgeous, Plemmons, Dickenson, Hanson, Williams, Roberts, Cole, Leo Kinard, Ed Crenshaw, Joe Beal, Jake Wilder, just to name a few. However, two of the leading breeders into the late 1960's and the man more often associated with the "Old Family Red Nose" do├┐

2nd part:

However, two of the leading breeders into the late 1960's and the man more often associated with the "Old Family Red Nose" dogs were Robert H.(Bob) Hemphill Jr. and Robert Forster (Bob) Wallace.

Robert Hemphill had been friends with Earl Tudor as early as 1914. Hemphill became personally interested in the Lightner dogs and in the 1920's began an extensive search to locate and obtain high caliber dogs from this line.

It was Dan McCoy who received word of the frenchman who lived in Louisiana by the name of Bourgeous. Bourgeous had received several dogs directly from Mr. William Lightner and for many years had bred and raised these dogs strictly for his own personal satisfaction. Bourgeous was extremely successful in preserving the "Red Nose" strain. Robert Hemphill went with Dan McCoy to Louisiana and aided by Gaboon Trahan, they purchased several dogs from Bougeous. Hemphill's kept only the highest caliber of these "Red Nose" dogs and began to form his foundation stock from them. Hemphill's early advertisements refelect that he had been raising "Old Family Red Nose" dogs since 1927. Thoughout his life, Robert Hemphill remained dedicated to the breed and faithful to the "Old Family Red Nose" line. Old advertisements throughout his life reflected his great devotion to keeping the line pure. Until 1966 he advertised strictly "Old Family Red Nose" dogs. After that time, his ads began to reflect the adage of 1/8th to 1/16th "Dibo" breeding.

Concerning the Lightner dogs, some fanciers and under the false assumption that W.J. Lightner bred only "Red Nose" dogs because of his overwhelming association with them. Those who have really done their homework know that this is not the case at all. He also raised great blacks and dark colored dogs as well. The pinnacle of Lightner's success as a breeder is demonstrated through two dogs; Hall's "Searcy Jeff", owned through time by Jim Searcy, Bob Hemphill and Dr. Hall and then Bob Wallace, was reputed as being the best of the "Red Nose" blood that could ever be bred. The second dog was "Colorado Imp", owned by Jeff Runyon and said to be the best of the black and/or dark blood that could ever be bred. Both of these dogs being bred from the same basic foundation dogs of the same man, William J. Lightner. When these two dogs met each other at Medicine Park, Oklahoma in 1937, they proved William J. Lightner to be one of the greatest breeders of all time. After this meeting, Bob Wallace told Hemphill that he was going to buy this dog, "Searcy Jeff", even if it costs him a thousand dollars! Later, in 1937, when Hemphill left that part of the country, he divided up up the dogs with Red Howell and Dr. Hall. Dr. Hall received "Searcy Jeff" and Bob Wallace did eventually buy "Jeff" from him. Also in 1937, Robert Hemphill sent a young dog back to William Lightner, that dog now appears in many of the "Old Family Red Nose" line of today, that dog is known as Lightner's Pumpkin.

Bob Wallace is also remembered in history for his association and great success with "Old Family Red Nose" dogs. However, there are two main misconceptions concerning Mr. Wallace that should be cleared up at this point. One is that Hemphill and Wallace were partners. They were not. They both shared a deep respect of the "Red Nose" dogs and were both dedicated to keeping the line pure. They were both successful breeders in keeping the line pure, strong and beautiful. They even shared common breedings and interbred their dogs within each others line, but they were not partners.

At the age of thirteen, Bob Wallace met and became friends with the "Old Timer", Ben Flannery. Throughout his teens, Bob Wallace owned many outstanding Bulldogs. He later obtained dogs from bloodlines of Dugan's "Pat". The second misconception concerning Bob Wallace was that he bred primarily "Red Nose" dogs. His original was quiet variable in color and were extremely talented dogs. Though these dogs did not show it, they carried a large amount of the "Red Nose" blood. One of the first foundation females of Bob Wallace was the famous Shipley's "Penny". Shipley's "Penny" was a direct descendant of the old Corcoran dogs. Wallace had always considered Corcoran to be one of the great breeders of all time. Other great dogs that are considered part of the foundation of the Wallace dogs were ones such as, Ferguson's "Centipede", Hall's "Searcy Jeff" and the famous Wallace's "Tony". "Tony" was said to be Wallaces' pride and joy. Wallace bred Shipley's "Penny" to "Centipede" and produced these three great dogs, "Stinger" "Scorpion" and "Spider". He later bred "Searcy Jeff" to "Spider" and produced Wallace's "Madam Queen". When he bred "Madam Queen" to "Tony" he produced the ever famous Wallace's "King Cotton". Other famous dogs appear in many of the popular "Old Family Red Nose" dogs of modern times are Wallace's "Red Rustler", "Red Rock" and "Red Rube", as well as the famous producing female Wallace's "Red Raven".

The old advertisements of Bob Wallace during the 1940's clearly reflect the breeding and maintenance of the old Corcoran and Lightner Line of dogs. Most of the advertisements were stated in bold print. During the 1940's Bob Wallace began to look "Red Nose" dogs to out cross his own with. At this time he felt that his own dogs were getting as tight as could be productively bred. When he began his search he found that the pure "Old Family Red Nose" dogs were almost extinct. Most of the lines were ruined or contaminated through careless breeding. However, he was finally able to locate and obtain seven pure "Red Nose" dogs of high caliber, whose pedigree he could authenticate.

Bob Wallace was a man of character and honesty and often stated that there is no "magic" to the "Old Family Red Nose" dogs, that they are just one good line of many. The "red Nose" dogs have the intelligence, talent and personality to stand on their own merit. Bob Wallace has gone down in history as one of the greatest breeders of his ear. Over the years as a breeder, Bob Wallace was known to sell less than a dozen dogs. He stated that he never sold dogs as a matter of personal principle. The results of his dedication to the breed is still apparent and appreciated in the modern day American Pit Bull Terrier.

This has been a short narrative introduction to the "Old Family Red Nose" dogs and few of the men dedicated to their preservation. It is by far complete or conclusive. Their significance cannot be finalized in a few short paragraphs. Entire volumes could be written on the "Old Family Red Nose" dogs and their place in the history of the American pit Bull Terrier.
 

**Take Note this part concerns RD dogs**

"Now, not all of the offspring were whelped "Red Nose" from this stock. Some people still feel that the blood in the Con Feeley dogs was much more "Red Nose" then that of the Lightner dogs."



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