Mr Mrs James Austin
Catawba Afghan hounds USA
(By Steve Tillotson December 2015)
(Intro/Bio info from Lyall Payne)
The name Catawba Farms is famous in dogs. Afghan hounds, Smooth Fox Terriers, Golden Retrievers and Poodle breed circles are all familiar with the kennel of Catawba as well as the kennel owners - James, and Mrs James M Austin. The 52 acre property was located on Long Island. More specifically, it was a prime racehorse breeding and racing establishment of the great sportswoman, Madeleine Horne.
The property was situated between Wheatley Road and Red Ground Road in picturesque Old Westbury, Long Island, New York. A traditionally very affluent area Old Westbury included the homes of the Vanderbilt’s and Du Ponts.
Later, as the farm was broken up and subdivided into smaller lots, further roads were added, including Pinetree Lane and Grace Drive. Howard Stern lives on Pinetree Lane today.
The lady we know as Mrs James M Austin, Madeleine Horne, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on 12 June 1893. Her grandfather B F Jones, a Pittsburgh Steel magnate, was a founding partner in the Jones & Loughlin Steel Corporation. Madeleine married Charles Gifford West, a stockbroker, in Greenwich, Connecticut and the couple had four children, Elizabeth, Barbara, Charles Gifford Jr and Madeleine (known as Wissy).
Madeleine then married James Madison Austin who was born in Charlotte, Monroe County, North Carolina (1894-1957) an engineer and the youngest of ten children. Madeleine’s daughter Wissy called James, ‘Aboo’ and hence James’ famous kennel of ‘Wissaboo’ terriers came to be, at Catawba Farms.
The cream Afghan hound, Eng Ch Lakshmi of Geufron-Catawba was bred in England in 1937 by Mrs E E ‘Paddy’ Drinkwater, imported by the Austins and became the first Best in Show winning bitch from the breed in the USA.
James purchased the smooth fox terrier Eng Ch Nornay Saddler, born on 12 March 1936 and bred by Mr & Mrs Frank Coward of Worksop, England for the ‘ridiculously low sum of $750’. The purchase was arranged by George S Thomas, the famous English born US based dog breeder and importer of dogs. (George S Thomas had arranged the purchase and importation of two founding US Afghan hounds - Eng Ch Badshah of Ainsdart and his litter brother Am Ch Tufan of Ainsdart. George S Thomas is the registered breeder of the first Afghan hound litter bred between Westmill Omar and Asra of Ghazni).
It was not an uncommon sight to see a dog of James’ and one of Madeleine’s fighting it out in the Best in Show line-up. Saddler went on to become one of the US’s most famous show dogs of the 1930s.
As a young boy, James had been given a fox terrier, and he in turn sometimes gave away exceptional progeny of Saddler to enthusiastic youngsters he believed would give the puppy a good home even though he might have been able to sell the dog elsewhere for a considerable sum of money.
In 1950 James published a book, written by Don Reynolds, titled ‘Champion of Champions’. It is the true story of Nornay Saddler and features young Wissy with Saddler on the front cover. It also contains a delightful photograph of Saddler leaping up to greet an ageing and wheelchair bound Mrs M Hartley Dodge (the former Geraldine Rockefeller) grand promoter of pedigree dogs, their breeding and showing and both founder and hostess (on her own Giralda Farms) of the famous Morris and Essex Kennel Club Show. An interesting feature of this book is that at the top right hand corner of every page is a small photo that when you flick the pages fast, you can ‘see’ how Saddler moved!
James Austin served in France in World War 1 and during the Meuse-Argenne offensive he was severely injured with 60 percent disability. Although he recovered well, abdominal injuries were to plague him for the remainder of his life. He died on 19 August 1957 in Old Westbury and is buried back in Monroe County, North Carolina.
Madeleine Horne Austin died six years earlier, on 2 June 1951 at her residence, Catawba Farms. She had been a vice-President of the Dalmation Club of America, a former President of the Poodle Club of America and involved with the Golden Retriever Club of America. We of course know her best as the owner of the stunning English imported cream bitch, Eng/Am Ch Lakshmi of Geufron-Catawba, the first Afghan hound bitch to win Best in Show in America. A very heavily coated Afghan hound for her time, she was beautifully presented in the show ring and sadly, left no progeny. (Lyall Payne).
A Catwaba show result 1940 mentioning Afghan hound Lakshmi Of Geufron-Catawba
and photo of Mrs Austin with a Peke at a different show
(1945-1948 Poodle dispute)
In 1945 Mrs Hoyt (Blakeen Afghan hounds and Poodles) and Mrs Austin became involved in a dispute over a poodle. The dispute eventually went to court and was finally resolved in 1948
1945-1948 dispute betwen Mrs Hoyt and Mrs Austin
(Catawba Afghan hounds)
Ch Lakshmi Of Geufron-Catwaba BIS 1939
Mr, Mrs Austin imported two Afghan hounds from England. The first to arrive was the fawn dog Am Ch Westmill Hamayun Of Catawba (Westmill Ben Havid x Westmill Tasmin) born 6/25/1937 bred by Mrs Wood (Westmill, England) followed by the heavily coated cream bitch Am Ch Lakshmi Of Geufron-Catawba (Yudhajit Of Geufron x Tarawali Of Geufron) born 11/25/1937 bred by Mrs Drinkwater (Geufron UK). Lakshmi was not bred from, but Humayun was used at stud, Both hounds were registered in the AKC Stud book early in 1940, but we know they arrived earlier because Lakshmi was being exhibited as early as February 1939.
The legacy of these Austin imported hounds probably most arises from Shibergam Of Dunrobin (Westmill Hamayun Of Catawba x Hamara Of Pommel Rock), a daughter of the Austin's import Humayun
Shibergram is behind the the Khanassets and via Karach Of Khanhasset behind the Majara's. two very influential kennels of this era.
An April 10, 1940 a breeding involving Westmill Hamayun Of Catawba x Maharanee Of Arken (breeder Betty Whelan of Pocono Afghan hounds) produced a litter of seven hounds, two of which carried the Catawba affix -- a red dog, Yung Humayun Of Catawba and a red bitch Tasmin Of Catawba, but we have no record of the ownership of these hounds by the Austins and no further details on their disposition. Neither were apparently bred from.
It is perhaps surprising that the Austin's did not breed their English imports, on the other hand, they were heavily involved, and very successful with their Smooth Fox Terriers and Pekingese, as well as being active in other breeds as well as horse breeding and racing, so perhaps their real focus was more on these other breeds/activities. In any event, because other early breeders in this era did breed from their import Humayun, the Catwaba legacy is important, descending as it does down through the Majara's and Khanhassets etc that became very significant contributors to breed development.
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