Afghan Hound Times
(Afghan Hound Database and Breed Information Exchange)
User Login Home Register Community Forum Members Pages
Forgot User Name | Forgot Password | Update Your Registration | Create A Members Page |

James and Grace Dignowity's (USA) Afghan Hounds
(Compiled by Steve Tillotson, 2015 in collaboration with David Frei USA, Lyall Payne NZ, Iola Caird AUST) - James and Grace Dignowity's (Bell Murray) Afghan Hounds WKC 1927

This project is a good example of international collaboration and the value of the Internet and Social Media enabling the finding and sharing of breed history information. The story starts when Steve Tillotson contacted David Frei in May 2012 (on a project involving Shah Jehan Of Larkbeare) and asked David if he could provide a scan/copy of some early WKC catalogues Afghan entries. David kindly provided the copies. In addition to the Larkbeare details we sought, we noticed also that there were some Bell Murray hounds entered, owned by Mr, Mrs Dignowity. Lyall set of in pursuit of bio info about the Dignowity's, hoping this might reveal some information about their Bell Murray Afghan hounds. Two years after we obtained the David Frei WKC information, Iola Caird shared a vintage photo in September 2014 from "Historical Images" (an Ebay seller) of two hounds exhibited at WKC in 1927. This immeidately triggered excitement in Steve who posted a link to his original WKC 1927 article in response to Iola's photo share on FB and a conversation between Steve , Lyall and IIola ensued enabling us to put all the jigsaw pieces together and document this very exciting discovery. A great team effort!

(Note exhibits #2 and #3 in the WKC catalogue as they are the subject of this article) - James and Grace Dignowity's (Bell Murray) Afghan Hounds WKC 1927


Kabuter (b) and Sahib (d) WKC 1927 - James and Grace Dignowity's (Bell Murray) Afghan Hounds WKC 1927


Kabuter (b) and Sahib (d) WKC 1927 - James and Grace Dignowity's (Bell Murray) Afghan Hounds WKC 1927


Here are some notes about James and Grace Dignowity, owners of two of the very earliest Afghan Hounds in the United States Their story pre-dates the significant imports into Q A Shaw McKeans Prides Hill kennel James V Dignowity was an engineer. He had interests in land as well as gold, silver, and copper mines - mainly in Mexico. He graduated from Harvard University in 1906, where he was considered 'the richest student on campus'! He was also a talented athlete and football star. Injuries sustained in these roles meant that he was excluded from active service in WW1. Instead he was assigned to the US Emergency Fleet Co, designing large steel cargo ships at New London in Connecticut. It was here he would make his home for some years. At Harvard, he demonstrated a talent for writing and wrote lyrics of several published and popular 'sheet music' songs of the day, such as "Beautiful Isle of Erin". He married the same year he graduated from university and had two daughters. One would fail, many decades later, in an attempt to acquire ownership of her fathers lands in Mexico. The Government deemed that the title deeds were unclear as to the exact position of the boundaries! James marriage did not last and in 1916 he married Grace Newell Strong (heiress and daughter of a prominent Brooklyn, New York medical practitioner). It is Grace we see seated with the two Afghan Hounds. In 2000, Laurel E Hunt edited a book titled 'Angel Pawprints in which are published owners writings on the deaths of their beloved pets. Grace Dignowity has an inclusion in that book. It is noted as having been written circa 1935 and is simply titled "To Roxy".

As far as I am aware, the couple owned only two Afghan Hounds, both Bell-Murray dogs born at The Cove kennels in Kirkpatrick-Fleming, in Scotland. They were bred by Miss Jean Manson, who took a team of dogs to America in June 1926. The Dignowitys two dogs were a male, Sahib (Ooty-Straker) born 22 July 1922 and a female Kabuter (Baluch-Kanee) born 18 October 1925. Incidentally, Sahib is not the same dog as Sahib of Cove (Potentate-Aru) born 6 Aug 1927. 'Roxy' appears to be 'Roxy of Lamar of Roscolyn' a small breed of dog Grace exhibited in the early 1930s while living at Springfield in New Jersey. Kabuters sister Reshum (or Raishum) produced the last known litter of Afghan Hounds registered by Miss Jean C Manson. The Bell-Murrays and their kennel had moved to Wales by this time. Also, as far as I am currently aware, no Afghan Hounds were bred by James and Grace Dignowity.

For much of the 1920s the couple lived in New London, Connecticut before moving to Springfield, New Jersey. If you Google Pequot Avenue, New London you will see the glorious views and the beach on which the dogs no doubt enjoyed many walks and a great deal of fun! Incidentally, Dignowity is also the name of a very affluent area of San Antonio, Texas. It is named after James' grandfather, one of the cities founding residents whose home was located in what is today, Dignowity Park A prominent medical practitioner who hailed from Kuttenberg, Bohemia (or Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic as we know it today). Dr Dignowity was the first Czech writer to publish in America. He narrowly escaped hanging for his support for banning slavery and having union sympathies. He escaped to Mexico with two of his sons, one being James' father, who although being an Attorney at law would focus on lucrative real estate and investments in mining. James grandfather returned following the Civil War (he was born in 1810 and well past personally fighting for the Union at that time). One of his sons is responsible for founding the city of Del Rio, Texas. I will attach a pic of James Victor Dignowity agent/owner of Sahib and Kabuter. If anyone finds errors please let me know so I can update these notes. Thanks. Lyall

James Victor Dignowity Photo James Dignowity


4.1 We think the photo Iola shared is one of the earliest we have of Bell Murrays exported to the USA. The first Afghan hounds bred in the USA were from Bell Murray stock, see the article O'valley Farm Kennel. It's interesting to note that O'valley Farm Kennels owned Afghan hounds that were also entered, alongside the Dignowitys hounds at WKC in 1928 . Another Bell Murray - Kandahar (born April 1942, exported to the USA 1924) was exhibited at WKC 1928 and we have a photo of him in the O'valley Farm Kennel article. As Lyall informs us - James and Grace Dignowity were owners of two of the very earliest Afghan Hounds in the United States . Their story pre-dates the significant imports into Q A Shaw McKeans Prides Hill kennel.

4.2 Did you catch that? Bell Murrays moved to Wales!, another fantastic Lyall research discovery,

4.3 Kabuter was in the last known (registered) litter of Afghan hounds bred by Miss Jean C Manson

Steve T

Related content:
Major Bell Murray/Westminster 1924
Kandahar (UKUS) by Lyall Payne Oct 2916
Jean Manson visit with hounds to the USA 1926
Larkbeare/Clara Bowring Article
Bell Murrays moved to Wales
Major Graham Bell Murray 1881-1955 by Lyall Payne, 2014
"Mysterious Bell-Murray/Cove photo" Steve Tillotson December 2011
Bell Muray - Cove House, Scotland
Early Afghan Hounds
Origin Of The Afghan Hound

Whats New
Library Of Articles/Main Menu Toolbar