The ‘Walker’ is today the most popular of the American Foxhound dog breed. This breed can be traced to Madison County, KY and a stolen hound called Tennessee Lead. According to legend, drover Tom Harris stole the hound out of a deer chase in Tennessee a few miles south of Albany, Kentucky in November 1852. Harris carried this rat-tailed, tight-haired black and tan hound on his buckboard to Madison County, and sold him to George Washington Maupin.
“I am sure Tennessee Lead was taken from Overton County, Tennessee, and that his first owner was either John or Mark Jolly or Andrew Kraft,” maintains Bob Lee Maddux in Old Time Walker Hounds, from The Hunter’s Horn, December 1974 issue. “They were deer hunters who lived among the mountains near where the Kentucky Rock Island Road broke out of the Cumberland Mountains to enter Obey’s River valley.”
The origin and breeding of this hound is unknown. Lead didn’t look like the Virginia strain of English Foxhounds of that day. But he had an exceptional amount of game sense, plenty of drive and speed and a clear, short mouth. Most importantly, because of his speed and ability to run a red fox, he was used extensively at stud and was a major contributor to the development of the foxhounds as a whole.
The first hound bred to Tennessee Lead was a female called Red May, jointly owned by Thomas Howard Maupin (brother of George Washington Maupin), Speedwell Road and Alfred Johnson. This mating took place on November 20, 1852 the same day that George Washington Maupin obtained Lead from Tom Harris, and produced the hound White Mag, who was later sold to George Washington Maupin.
Tennessee Lead’s get were in turn crossed on imported hounds from England, native Kentucky hounds, Maryland hounds and Birdsong hounds from Georgia. Out of these crosses came the Walker and two other major strains: ‘Trigg’ and ‘Goodman.’
Bob Lee Maddux picks up the story once more: “Five years after Tennessee Lead was secured by the Maupins a rich banker and land owner of Madison County, KY, whose name was Jason Walker, imported three English hounds, two dogs and one bitch in whelp.
“From this English mating on the Native-Tennessee Lead bitches the Maupins produced a distinctive hound by 1868. For that year Wash Maupin died, leaving two sons to carry on, but their very serious fault was that they kept no records of any sort what-so-ever.
“The hound, Spotted Top bred by Wash Maupin’s sister’s son, Neil Gooch, was the first hound to have his breeding recorded for information of future generations. That hound was bred in 1864, but had no English cross. He was the offspring of Tennessee Lead stock on Native hounds.
“From about 1870 we are indebted, solely, to the Walker Brothers of Garrard County for the preservation of this breed. They bought from Wash Maupin, the year before he died, Spotted Top.
“Then they bought Scott and White Trav, littermates, from Joe Maupin, and from the other hounds they had previously purchased they preserved the blood in its proper ratio of 6-3-1 until about 1900, when the Striver cross enters.
“We are indebted to W. S. Walker, Arch Walker and Wade Walker for dispersing the blood to Missouri, Texas, Tennessee, and throughout the South. For Ed Walker, while the best hunter of the four, would not sell a hound. He bought every good one that he ever knew about, but kept them for his own hunting pleasure, and allowed them to be scattered only through his stud dogs.
“He never did like the Striver cross. One morning he and Tom Steagall of Crab Orchard were hunting on the Henry Baker Ridge. The hounds were working hard to lift their fox. One, a young bitch by Big Strive, was switching around too near the casting place to suit Mr. Walker, so Tom, out of his Irish devilment, asked Mr. Ed how he liked the new English cross. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘one eighth of it does fairly well, but one sixteenth is much better.’”