The Trigg Foxhound

From an article out of the "Barren County Progress", Thursday, April 27, 2000. pg 1&9.

The name of Haiden C. Trigg is one that is more than likely familiar only to history buffs or to those with an interest in fox hunting.

Introducing the younger generation of Barren Countians and re-introducing the older generation to Trigg, whose name may sound familiar, but can't be placed, is the goal of J. C. Higgins, who moved to Kentucky last fall from Mississippi with that purpose in mind.

Higgins, who breeds and runs Trigg fox hounds, hopes to be able to gather enough material to provide an exhibit at the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center (Museum of the Barrens). And if he is successful, Trigg is not the only person who will be immortalized in the history of the art of fox hunting.

More modern day individuals will be commerated in the exhibits as well, men such as well-know Glasgow attorney, Paul A. Greer and Hubert Shipley, who for many years was active in the National Trigg Foxhunters Association, helping host many bench shows and hunts and providing numerous articles for national publications on the subject of Trigg fox hounds.

Trigg, who was known to many as Col. Trigg, was born in Barren County in 1834, the son of Alanson Trigg and Mary Frances Martin Trigg. He was the grandson of the Haiden Trigg who was instrumental in the settlement of Glasgow and Barren County.

Col. Trigg was interested in a number of different financial projects, mercantile affairs and the railroad industry during his renown career. He and Thomas Gorin (Thomas Jefferson Gorin, son of the founder of Glasgow, John Gorin) established Gorin, Trigg and Company Bank in 1866; in 1900 he retired from the banking industry and he and others purchased the Glasgow Railroad Company of which he was president.

But his passion was "the chase". In a biography included in the E. Polk Johnson History of Kentucky and Kentuckians, Volume III, it is noted that Trigg's "sporting nature is well known along the line of the dog and gun and he has given to the hunting world a superior breed of fox hounds, called the "Trigg dog." The biography adds that Trigg came by his great love for the chase through inheritance, descending from "persons of great wealth and leisure whose pastime consisted chiefly in the importation of thoroughbred horses and fine hunting dogs and who were ever responsive to the mellow notes of the horn over the mountains of old Virginia."

Trigg published a volume called The American Fox Hunt, which describes his work in breeding the Trigg fox hounds.

In an article entitled "The Trigg Hound" in The Chase, W. L. Porter attributes Trigg's goal in breeding his hounds to the desire for speed, noting that the only hunting dogs available in this vicinity prior to 1866, were "old fashioned potlickers, black and tan, long ears, fine tails, deep, long drawn-out mouths, and almost as slow as the enforcement of the Volstead Act and yet the craze for speed was as great then as it is now."

Porter tells of a hunt, shortly before Col. Trigg purchased the first of his "Birdsong" (later called Julys) from Col. George L. F. Birdsong of Georgia, and began breeding the Trigg hound. In that account he says, "The fox was released about thirty steps in front of the dogs. It was about half a mile to the top of the ridge and when the fox crossed the top of the hill, the dogs, in a mad scramble, almost running over each other, were about half way up the hill and in thirty minutes they were on a cold trail."

Recounting area fox hunters' first encounter with the dogs purchased by Trigg, Porter says, "When the dogs arrived a lot of us went down to Col. Trigg's to inspect his new dogs, and a more disgusted lot of fox hunters never met. They were racy built, crop ears, rough coated, bushy tails and chop mouthed and looked unlike any fox hound any of us had ever seen, and the general impression was that Col. Trigg had picked up a "Gold Brick."

"A few days after the dogs arrived, Col. Trigg invited several of us to the Baird Knobs where a red fox had been seen, and asked us to bring our packs along. We struck out a running trail at once and soon had the fox up and going. The fox went over the knobs and out of hearing, and when they returned our potlicker pack was nowhere to be heard, and we were as much surprised at the performance of the Birdsong dogs as we were disgusted at their first appearance," Porter continues.

Trigg began the process of breeding the dog he wanted and he was successful, not only locally, but his dogs were eventually shipped across the nation and around the world. His judicious breeding and vrossing of the best lines produced a wonderful breed of red fox dog and for the rough country, superior to any.

The Trigg dog was usually black and tan, with a black saddle, tan sides and white tips and white about the breast and neck, was twenty-four inches high, large around the heart with flag tails carried gracefully over the back, according to Porter.

Hubert Shipley routinely wrote an article entitled "Trigg Notes" for a national fox hunters' magazine. In an article published in April 1960, nearly one hundred years after Trigg began breeding his hounds, Shipley paid tribute to these efforts:

"In the past hundred years, to summarize what man has accomplished along with modern science would be far beyond ability. The great change in our mode of life is almost unbelievable, but nature has not changed. I guess this one thing makes fox hunting al the more interesting. As an example of wild life, the red fox and his habits are no different now than they were a hundred years ago. The mating season is the same, the rearing of their young and their feeding habits have not changed. A pack of hounds will make almost the same crossings today that Colonel Trigg's famous pack made at the Wade Cave a hundred years ago," said Shipley.

The next best thing to hearing a good fox race is to visit the office of Paul A. Greer, prominent attorney at Glasgow, perhaps more significant to you hunters as the former owner of "The Full Cry Trigg Foxhound Kennels." His office is decorated with pictures of famous hounds... the most beautiful horns it has been my pleasure to see and two red and grey fox pelts tanned." Shipley adds. "With Mr. Greer's wide experience in the breeding and hunting of Trigg hounds, there is never a dull moment in his presence."

In the late 1940's Shelton Dethridge of Bowling Green and Earl R. Sands of Bellview, Illinois, organized the National Trigg Foxhunters Association. On October 9, 1949, the first Trigg National was held in Bowling Green. The Trigg Nationals continue today, and until the late 1980's or early 1990's was hosted the majority of the time by the local Trigg Association at the Austin-Tracy Lions Club Fork at Dry Fork, with Hubert Shipley serving as president of that organization for many years. Shipley was honored on more than one occasion, not only for his efforts in raising and showing Trigg fox hounds, but for his writing and promotion of the breed.

"Commemorating for posterity the accomplishments of these men and others is what [J.C.} Higgins hopes to do with an exhibit in the Museum of the Barrens. But the history and commemoration of the Trigg fox hound is just an offshoot of Higgin's love for the dogs. He currently has sixteen Trigg hounds and has in the past had as many as forty.

And his dogs don't just stay in their pens at the H & H Kennel, but run in as many hunts as Higgins can manage, in adidtion to the "unorganized" hunts for the coyotes which have grown in number in Barren County the past few years. Higgins expressed his thanks to neighbors who return his dogs, even putting them in their pens when he isn't home.

When Higgins moved to Kentucky last October from Pontotoc, Mississippi, where he owned and oeprated a small country store (H & H Grocery) and farmed, he rented a house and property from Virginia WIlkerson on the Matthews Mill Road, south of Glasgow. Howard Mullins, also a Trigg fox hound owner, found the rental property for Higgins prior to his move.

"I Have had Walkers and Julys," said Higgins. "The first Trigg hounds I owned were sold to me by a neighbor in Mississippi who had cancer and needed the money. He came to my store, saying he wanted to sell me his four dogs. I bought them, I liked them and I ran them in hunts. They were all good dogs and one was super."

Higgins began breeding the Trigg fox hounds and even bred some from the Shipley line. He can name his dogs and a long list of their progenitors. His dogs have won local, state, reigonal and national titles.

Not only does Higgins plan to gather enough material for a museum exhibit, [South Central KY Cultural Center/Museum of the Barrens] he also hopes to have a "Trigg Day" in Barren County, which he believes will draw nationwide partcipation.

Higgins hopes the art of breeding and hunting fox hounds will not end with the current generation, but will become an exciting sport for the younger generation as well. "All of the fox hunters are older people, I want the younger generation to know about and appreciate the traditions embodied in the Trigg hounds," says Higgins.

Higgins' passion for the "chase" may not be inherited as was Trigg's, it comes from a love of the dogs and a desire to share the joy they bring him."