Memorial Pathway at Aldie - Buy Your brick


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page last updated March 19, 2015  

History of the National Beagle Club of America

In 1884 the American Kennel Club was founded, as well as the first Beagle Specialty Club, the American-English Beagle Club.  This Specialty Club was established by Philadelphia area breeders, a Standard was adopted and the breed rapidly changed from the "bench-legged" beagles (crooked forelegs) who were undoubtedly the result of crosses of the early imported beagles from England with Dachshunds.

Although the early American show Beagles were rangier, often pied or mottled as were most of the best English hunting strains which produced them, they were also ranging in size from "toy" to 16 inches in height as the British Standard allowed.

The National Beagle Club was formed in the late 1800's, with its object to hold field trial events with the purpose of improving field qualities as well as type.  When they initially applied for admission to The American Kennel Club as a Specialty club they were denied because the American-English Beagle Club  or American Beagle Club, as it was also known, refused to sanction admission.

But the new club forged ahead with its plans and eventually merged with the American Beagle Club, and was thereafter known as the Beagle Club of America   or NBC.  The Standard was revised in 1900 to put more emphasis on running gear and thus the function of the Beagle breed.

The first National Beagle Club field trial, scheduled to be held in Hyannis, Massachusetts in 1890, was moved due to poor terrain to New Hampshire.   The first National Beagle Club Specialty Show was held in 1891. The eventual Dual Ch. Frank Forest was a major influence at this time.

With the continuance of derogatory remarks made of the show-Beagle of the time in the field trial press, in 1896, James Kernochan began to import proven hunting hounds from English packs, thus introducing the hound head and body, legs and feet of a good Beagle to the more terrier/Dachshund-like field beagles, and also setting the Beagle type of present time.

Before 1912 field trials were held primarily on cottontail and occasionally on New England hare. It was after this that pack on hare clubs began to demonstrate the longer endurance the Beagle needed on larger game.

In 1916, James W. Appleton was was President of the NBC from 1910-1942, Harry Peters and George W. Post, both directors of the American Kennel Club, Chetwood Smith, Ted Lucas, H.C. Phipps of Wheatley Beagles and C. Oliver Iselin, President of the NBC from 1942-1971, formed the Institute Corporation.

The early emphasis on field and conformation by NBC changed over the years as interest in conformation phased out, and by 1936, the task of administering the large and increasing number of field trial clubs and activities became a near impossible burden. It was because of this, the Beagle Advisory Commission was established.

In 1970, a small group of conformation Beaglers, also Regular members of the NBC, with the encouragement of NBC Secretary, Morgan Wing, held the first National Beagle Club Specialty in many years at the Institute Farm in Aldie, Virginia. Increasing pressure for representation of the Conformation Beaglers in NBC brought about the establishment of a second classification of membership for those interested in conformation.  The Supporting Membership status. In 1980, due to the work of Nadine Eaton Chicoine in the late 1970s, the Supporting Membership was granted permission to draw up its own By-Laws to govern the Specialty show activities and to provide for the election of a Supporting Membership Director to serve on the Board of the NBC for a one-year term. Go to the Forms page for membership applications.

As of 1987, NBC listed 375 Regular Members and 162 supporting members. As of Spring 2000, there are 384 Regular Members, 178 Supporting Members and 6 Associate Members.

History of  the National Beagle Club's Institute Farm Property

   The National Beagle Club's headquarters is located on a tract of 508 acres located in Aldie, Virginia in Western Loudoun County.  This property was purchased in 1916 by five men who were members of an organization which had been founded in Boston in 1887, named the National Beagle Club.  These same 5 men formed a corporation named the Institute Corporation to purchase and own the land.  The land is still owned by that same corporation which leases it to The Institute Foundation, which, in turn, subleases the property to the National Beagle Club.

   The land is known as The Institute Farm because in the late 1850s the owner of the property, John Hixon Gulick, whose great-grandfather had purchased the land at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, joined with a local educator named Benjamin Hyde Benton and a local builder named Harmon Bitzer; and they founded the Loudoun County Agricultural and Chemical Academy.  To accommodate the activities of the Academy, Mr. Bitzer built the structure which is the present main building at the Institute farm.  According to an advertisement in the June 15, 1855, issue of the Washingtonian, the Academy offered courses which were "varied to suit the farmer, the merchant, the engineer." (Nothing wrong with trying to appeal to everyone. ) The Academy appears to have been highly regarded, but the panic of 1857 and the subsequent depression ended its brief life.

   When the Civil War broke out, John Hixon Gulick joined the Confederate Army and was killed at the Battle of Upperville on March 27, 1864.  The heirs of John Gulick eventually sold the farm to Isabella Skinner and The Institute Corporation seems to have purchased the property from her estate, although an interesting comment by C. Oliver Iselin, Jr., one of the five original founders of The Institute Corporation, raises a question about who the owner was at the time of the purchase. In a 1971 interview, Mr. Iselin said, "We were lucky, in a sense, to obtain the Institute, which we purchased from the estate of a man who had planned to use it for a Hunt Club.   He went to England and purchased a pack of hounds there.  On his way back, he went down with all his hounds on the Titanic."  The deed conveying the property to The Institute Corporation lists J.R.H. Alexander, an Aldie, Virginia, lawyer as substitute trustee for Isabella S. Turner (nee Skinner) as the seller.  According to Eugene M. Scheel, who in 1988 prepared A Conservation plan for The Institute Property, Loudoun County, Virginia, and did some historical research in the process, there was no one named Skinner or Turner on the passenger list of the Titanic. Perhaps the unfortunate man who went down on the Titanic had contracted to buy the property, and his death cleared the way for the Institute Corporation to obtain it.

   In addition to C. Oliver Iselin, Jr., who was a college student at the time of the purchase, the other four original purchasers were George P. Post, a New York stockbroker and partner in the firm of Post & Flagg; Edward "Ted" W. Clucas, a New York stockbroker; Chetwood "Chet" Smith of Worcester, Massachusetts, who was the brother of Harry Worcester Smith who instigated the famous International Foxhound Match held in the Middleburg- Upperville area in 1905; and John S. Phipps, a gentleman farmer with several large farms in Fauquier County, Virginia.   James W. Appleton, who at that time was president of the National Beagle Club, was one of the original incorporators of The Institute Corporation, but apparently did not contribute $7,500 to the undertaking as did the others.

   When the Institute Corporation first took possession of the property, the buildings were in poor repair.  When the trials were held, the men initially stayed in Middleburg, then in tents on the Institute grounds.  According to Mr. Iselin, "We spent two or three weeks here in Middleburg before the trials.   We would put our hounds in crates in the early morning, drive over to The Institute, hunt all day, and drive back in the dark . . . We financed the repairs and the building of the kennels by selling stock.  Cattle were using the basement for shelter.

   The poor state of the building led to the erection of cabins for members to stay in when they came to the trials.  The first three cabins were built in 1917 for George Post, Chetwood Smith and James W. Appleton, who continued to serve as President of the National Beagle Club until his death in 1942.

   Mr. Appleton, a proper Bostonian, felt it was not right for women to camp out in such rough surroundings with men, so he decreed that women should not stay on the property during the trials. He was eventually overruled and "Squaw Cabins" were constructed some distance from the main building and the other cabins.   Later, other "Squaw Cabins" were built near the original cabins. Nowadays, men, women, and children who are members of the National Beagle Club come to the Institute Farm and stay in any of the available lodging places.

   Today, the Institute Farm is used as the site for many activities of the National Beagle Club, including the annual Spring and Fall Pack Trials for beagles and for bassets, AKC licensed and sanctioned field trials, every third or fourth year the AKC licensed Specialty Show for beagles put on by the National Beagle Club, and the annual Triple Challenge Trial for all types of beagles.

The cabins at Aldie In the field

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