American Field

Field Trials and The American Field Celebrating 145 Years 1874-2019

Sep 03, 2019
Dr. Nicholas (Mohawk) Rowe

A true milestone — 145 years — both for the field trial sport and the venerable American Field.

The American Field traces its roots back to February, 1874 and the field trial pastime to October 8, 1874 when the first recognized trial was held near Memphis, Tennessee.

In the early days, The American Field covered a wide gamut of outdoor pursuits —  fishing, game and shooting, conservation, trap shooting and scores, as well as detailed field trial coverage.

Volume I, No. I of The Field was dated February 21, 1874. Its address was 179 East Madison Street in Chicago. Subscription price was $3.

For the first thirteen issues The Field was published every week. Financial difficulties were experienced at the outset and occasionally through the years.

Luther E. Shinn and Charles E. Turek started the enterprise, and the Field & Stream appelation was the original business name.

Dr. Nicholas Rowe became associated with the publication after two years, became its editor with the February 26, 1876 issue, and for the March 4, 1876 issue the title was changed to Chicago Field. Subsequently Dr. Rowe’s name was carried as the founder.

The Field & Stream Association passed from Luther Shinn to the Marsh Brothers in February, 1875. C. W. and W. W. Marsh of Sycamore, Illinois were principals in the manufacture of the Marsh Harvester. It was rumored that the first reaper which became known as the McCormick Reaper was their development.

The publishing business was incorporated in Illinois in June, 1881 and on September 26, 1881 Dr. N. Rowe, Charles Lewis and Charles Turek acquired ownership of The Field for $40,000.

Dr. Rowe (his pen name was Mohawk) loved the out of doors, had a fondness for bird dogs, fancying English setters, and was among the first to send dogs to the Canadian prairies for summer training.

Through Dr. Rowe’s personal efforts, his magnetism and charisma, The Field survived some trying years. His business sense, reportedly, was not as sound as his dedication to the highest principles of sportsmanship.

Dr. Rowe died in 1896. His widow, Mrs. Kate Rowe, became editor-in-chief (it is presumed nominally) and held that post until her death on December 18, 1920. George W. Strell was managing editor from the time of Dr. Rowe’s demise in 1896 until he passed away on February 7, 1920.

George W. Strell had been a principal in the establishment of the Field Dog Stud Book in 1900 and the American Field Quail Futurity in 1903.

The American Field was the first organization to maintain public pedigree and registration records. Original compilations began in 1876, were continued through 1897, at which time they were gratuitously given to the National American Kennel Club of which Major J. M. Taylor, a Field correspondent and author of the historic book, “Field Trial Records of Dogs in America,” was president.

Eastern interests later assumed control and the NAKC evolved into the American Kennel Club. The records of that organization are based on the original compilations of The American Field.

The Field Dog Stud Book came into being in 1900 after complaints on the part of hunting dog breeders and owners that not sufficient attention was being paid to the practical sporting dogs and field trials by the AKC. It was, in a sense, a response to the demand that George Strell established the Field Dog Stud Book. L. F. Whitman served as first registrar.

When Mrs. Kate Rowe died, she bequeathed the property to the employees who had rendered faithful service for nearly a score of years — Stewart J. Walpole became manager and publisher, Frank M. Young, the editor, Henry W. Zielke, FDSB registrar, and Geraldine McLindon, advertising manager.

Stewart Walpole was blessed with remarkable business acumen and brought The Field into a prosperous period during the 1920s and the “cushion” enabled the publication to survive the Great Depression. He and editor Frank Young rallied several outstanding figures in American outdoor literature, many of whom had been members of the Field staff and contributors, among them Arnold Burges, Dr. James A. Henshall, Capt. C. E. McMurdo, Dr. William Bruette, Bernard Waters, et al. Each had pseudonyms in those days prior to “personalized” journalism when it was more important what was written than who wrote it.

There had been a difficult time when World War I started because of the loss of some staff members and contributors, but Albert F. Hochwalt, who had been writing for the Sportsman’s Review, became chief staff correspondent for The Field. The gifted Al Hochwalt solidified the publication’s position as the outstanding paper in its field.

Those who have read the book, Albert F. Hochwalt — A Biography, know the tremendous impact Mr. Hochwalt had on the bird dog sport.

A. F. Hochwalt was elected to the Field Trial Hall of Fame in the very first year of its establishment (1954).

By virtue of Mrs. Rowe’s bequest, Stewart J.Walpole and his family — two sons and a daughter — received controlling interest, with the remaining shares to Frank M. Young, Geraldine McLindon and Henry W. Zielke.

Frank M. Young continued as editor until his death in 1941, when William F. Brown succeeded to the post. In 1943, Stewart Walpole relinquished the presidency and arranged for William F. Brown to assume that office.

A. F. Hochwalt, Stewart Walpole and Frank Young had been invaluable mentors for Bill Brown, imbuing in him the ideals of The American Field and the deep desire to carry on in the same traditions.

Stewart J. Walpole was semi-retired in the late 1940s,  and moved to Florida in the early 1950s. He died in October, 1956. William F. Brown died April 21, 1990.

During the 145 years, The American Field has been blessed with dedicated staff personnel in the advertising and  editorial departments and in the Field Dog Stud Book, maintaining the longstanding tradition of integrity and service.

And there has been a galaxy of reportorial greats from the earliest days to the present — Dr. N. Rowe, Dr. William A. Bruette, Albert F. Hochwalt, George M. Rogers, Jack E. Downs, Kyle M. Walker, David A. Fletcher, Charles E. Hodges, and specialty assignment correspondents, notably Nash Buckingham, Truman F . Cowles,  Herbert H. Cahoon, Henry L. Betten, James C. Foster, Henry P. Davis, Hal Davis, Herm David, John S. O’Neall (Sr. and Jr.); Verle Farrow, Ki Vandemore, Marc DeBerti excelling in grouse reports, and a coterie of New England writers such as Frank E. Foss, Albert J. Pilon and Charles P. Fogg, as well as the many fine reporters and contributors of the current era.

So it is with both pride and appreciation that The American Field — in its 145th year — extends sincerest thanks to all who have contributed to its longevity, and success to the owners and handlers who are the lifeblood of the great field trial sport.

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