LOOKING BACK: Fox hunts epic in Brown County, lead to colorful stories

It was Sunday night, Oct. 5, 1925, and some had come early to get a good spot to set up their tents. They were sitting around the bonfire that had been prepared for this big event that had been planned for about a year previous.

Oh, that glorious sound of the fox hounds baying in the distant hills. “That one’s my old Red,” says one fox hunter.

“That one’s my Little Jane; I would know her voice anywhere.”

Thus was the conversation those nights sitting around the fire whenever a fox was stirred up. Those were the golden days of our county when the fox hunts were a regular pastime.

Fox hunts in Indiana weren’t like those you might be more familiar with as seen on TV or in England. There the fox hunters were dressed in elegant riding attire and rode fine steeds racing after the hounds on the trail of a fox racing through the forest and bounding over dead trees.

Many a Brown County boy didn’t even own a horse and wore overalls seven days a week. Their greatest entertainment was to sit around the campfire or woodstove with their fellow fox hunters and speak proudly of their hound. They would swap stories of past fox hunts while listening for their hounds to kick up a fox.

As soon as the first bay was heard then all went silent, listening. Each and every fox hunter knew the distinct sound of their hound. Where was he or she in the pack? Was he in front or in the middle? How far ahead do you think the fox was?

One story was told of a wise, old fox named Elijah, who always gave the hounds a good run across half of Brown County and always seemed to elude them in the end. Suffice to say that Elijah died of old age and nay a hound ever caught up with him.

Fox hunt clubs abounded in every county back then and this was a very popular sport in the early 1900s. In October 1924, Morgantown sponsored the 14th Annual Meet of the Southern Indiana Fox Hunters Association. It was such a good event that Brown County wanted to do it again. In April, the directors were invited to view the campgrounds and Brown Countians went all out to woo them for the big event. It worked. When the association looked over the grounds just south of Nashville, which was then called Tourist Park, and with the excellent hunting terrain of the Brown County hills, they couldn’t say no.

This was to be one of the biggest sporting events ever to be held in this county, the 15th annual Fox Hunters’ Meet. They went all out building a log cabin for the officials’ use, digging water wells for the many that would attend, running electric lights throughout the campground, tents were provided for the officials to stay in, a good restaurant was set up in the center of the camp, fireworks were shot off several nights and entertainment of some sort was provided every night.

Friday was the day for awarding prizes. H.H. Evans was voted the Ugliest Fox Hunter and someone remarked that they must not have seen Louis Snyder right on the stand there with him. Valentine Penrose got first prize for being the Oldest Fox Hunter at 98. Emma Jane Schrock was the Oldest Lady Fox Hunter at 70. The Tallest Fox Hunter was Charles Swift. Alonzo “Lon” Weddle got second prize for the Laziest Fox Hunter for dancing all night and not attending the hunts. Fremont Weddle got the prize for Best Pair of Hounds. Miss Virginia Leonard (later became Mrs. Alonzo Weddle) got second prize for Best All Age Fox Hounds. Deaver Wilson got third place in the All Age Bench Show for his dog. Charles Louis Snyder got third place for the All Age Winners Show.

Election of officers for the year were H.H. Evans of New Castle as president, Bunn Mitchell of Bloomfield as secretary, Lon Weddle as a director with Scott Moser as alternate.

This story is from a Brown County Journal as written by Rhonda Dunn, Brown County Archives.