American Field

Makers of Bird Dog History

Aug 05, 2019
Albert F. Hochwalt

In April, 1927, a small compendium appeared on the field trial literary scene. The author was Albert F. Hochwalt who had gathered columns that had appeared earlier in The American Field under his byline dealing with “Winners of the National Championship.” Twenty-five sketches are included in the book entitled “Makers of Bird Dog History.”

In his foreword, Mr. Hochwalt notes that the “volume following (this one) will be devoted to the Prairie Chicken Champions, the third to the Free-for-All Champions.”

If such works were completed, it is not known for there is none in the American Field Publishing Company library.

Mr. Hochwalt’s reporting schedule began in the early fall in Canada for the series of trials in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, then to New York State for the pheasant stakes, then followed by the southern quail trials and concluding with stakes in his home state of Ohio and on the East Coast — the English Setter Club, Jockey Hollow and Orange County — in all, some thirty major trials each field trial season.

It was suspicioned that the abominable weather which prevailed for the southern quail trials during the winter of 1936 started A. F. Hochwalt’s decline in health. He acknowledged that it was about the worst weather encountered during his third of a century of making the southern trials.

The siege began at Columbus, Mississippi when, after one brace of the National Club’s Derby Championship, the elements took command and the field trialers were snowbound. Heavy snowfall followed by freezing temperatures and persistent cold forced postponement of the National Club’s Derby and Free-for-All Championships for about two months.

From Columbus, Mississippi the field trial contingent moved northward to Holly Springs, Mississippi for the United States Club’s trials and the National Amateur Quail Championship. Equally bad conditions

ensued. Lack of activity during the forced lay-up and food that was not all what it should have been affected Al Hochwalt adversely.

Ill effects were not evidenced until he arrived in Grand Junction, Tennessee for the 1936 National Championship where he suddenly fell ill on February 24. The local doctor advised him “not to ride horseback again!” But Hochwalt did.

Under the care of his son, Dr. Norman C. Hochwalt, a brother, Dr. G. A. Hochwalt, and heart specialist Dr. R. C. Schneble, A. F. Hochwalt was kept fit.

In 1937 Hochwalt covered a number of representative trials. Rather than have him travel the strenuous southern quail circuit, William F. Brown undertook that assignment for The American Field.

In the early months of 1937 Hochwalt went to Texas where he enjoyed the salubrious weather of the Rio Grand Valley, and he went back again in January, 1938.

After he returned to Ohio in March, 1938, he contemplated covering the Spring circuit of one-course trials along the Atlantic seaboard, but a recurrence of the pain in his knee prevented him from making that customary swing around the East.

Yet, he expected to continue his travels to field trials right up to the end. Before his final fatal illness, his son Dr. Norman confided: “The old bug is biting Dad again. Always at this time he begins to think of the prairies . . .” And Hochwalt began with his preparations.

On Saturday, June 18, 1938, while sitting at his desk in his study in Dayton, he suffered the “cerebral accident” his doctors had been expecting, his left side paralyzed, but his mind clear and active.

He optimistically said, “Others have recovered . . . I’ll be all right.” But such did not occur and at 4:15 a. m. on Sunday, July 24, 1938, Albert Fredrick Hochwalt passed away at age 68.

Writing the foreword to the Biography of Albert F. Hochwalt, by William F. Brown, Frank M. Young, then editor of The American Field, wrote: “. . . Always far above jealousies and rivalries without time or patience for petty bickering, he was never too busy to help an aspiring trainer, to give advice to the novice — and he was a great and sincere friend to all the professional handlers . . . never did he sacrifice principal to gain popularity . . . he eschewed that form of criticism which merely tears down, and ever sought to build upon a sound foundation.”

A. F. Hochwalt’s chapter from “Makers of Bird Dog History”detailing the career of the legendary Mary Montrose follows.

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