The Old Family Red Nose Dogs
Written 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. 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" 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 reflect that he had been raising "Old Family Red Nose" dogs since 1927. Throughout 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, Okahoma 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 for "Red Nose" dogs to outcross 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.
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