History of The Old North Bridge Hounds
Anne E. Kaiser
A. Henry Higginson, in his classic book The Hunts of the United States and Canada (1908) speaks of the Millwood Hunt: “As early as 1866, Mr. E. F. Bowditch settled in Framingham [MA], and his small private pack, which was kenneled at “Millwood,” his country-seat, has always been kept up by his sons.” Millwood became the first organized hunt club in New England, although of course, individuals had maintained hounds for hunting on foot since the founding of the Massachusetts colony. The Millwood Hunt provided great sport for 103 years. When it at last disbanded in 1969, a nucleus of its members, mostly from Concord, MA, pooled their enthusiasm, experience, and resources with other interested people in the area and formed the Old North Bridge Hounds (ONBH). The group was appropriately named by Mrs. John Buttrick, a long time Concord resident. Clearly these folks did not share the opinion of one of Concord’s residents in Bowditch’s time who was quoted as saying that he considered hunting “a godless custom” and that he regretted the “bringing back of the red coats, which were driven out of Concord in 1775.”
Mr. Laurence E. Clark, Mrs. Harold Cross, Jr., Dr. Seymour DiMare, Mr. Carl Hazen, Mrs. Gilbert Lawrence, Miss Margaret O’Brien, Mrs. Arthur Perry, Mrs. Farnham Smith, Miss Elsie Wright, and Mr. William Wright were the founding members of the Old North Bridge Hounds. The group drew up a charter, designed the insignia of a hound leaping over the Old North Bridge, built a kennel at Wright Farm in Concord, and drafted three couple of Millwood hounds. Two litters of pups were whelped, and eventually three couple from these litters entered the pack.
Sixty-seven members joined for the first season, and hounds went out eight times. Hounds were hunted by Miss Elsie Wright, Master of Foxhounds (MFH), and fields averaged about thirty riders. In 1970, the Board of Directors appointed Mrs. Arthur Perry and Mr. Laurence E. Clark joint-masters, with Mrs. Gilbert Lawrence honorary huntsman.
Hounds were then drafted from the Elkridge-Harford, Millwood, and Norfolk Hunts. Until 1971, the drag was laid on horseback; however, the huntsman thought that the hunt was too fast, and few could see hounds work. It was decided to lay the drag on foot, through the woods, swamps, and fields, thus keeping the hounds at a sensible pace and allowing the field to watch the hounds and hear them give tongue.
In the spring of 1971, an inspection by the President of the Master of Foxhounds Association (MFHA), Mr. Sherman Haight of Litchfield, Connecticut, resulted in his recommendation that ONBH be granted registered status. In October of 1973, ONBH was officially recognized by the MFHA.
ONBH has been blessed over the years by the generosity and dedication of its huntsmen, particularly Ollie Lawrence and Mim Neville. Today, ONBH’s pack of American and Crossbred foxhounds is hunted by Ginny Zukatynski, who shares the Joint-Mastership with Marjorie Franko, Stu Greenberg, and Tom Moran.
Hunt territory has been centered in Concord, Acton, and Carlisle, plus areas in Framingham, and Stow. Since 2000, ONBH has developed exciting new country in Pepperell, Groton, and Hollis, NH. The terrain is mostly wooded with some open fields and water crossings, and jumps including stone walls, fallen trees, chicken coops, and log piles abound. ONBH hunt country is made up of suburban and rural territories. To avoid back yards and busy roads, the hounds follow a drag made up of anise and vegetable oils, expertly laid by former MFH and huntsman Mim Neville and her intrepid crew. Safety of the hounds is assured, and the field has an exhilarating run over a variety of jumps, plus the opportunity to watch and hear hounds work.
ONBH members enjoy year-round activities and events that offer enjoyment, friendly competition, education, and a chance to relax and socialize with other members, friends, neighbors, and landowners. These include holiday parties, teas and tailgates after every hunt, the Annual Landowners Tea, the All New England Hunts Ball, hound shows and races, the New England Hunter Trials, puppy walking, hunter paces, hound trails, pony club days, joint meets, and the annual Master’s Dinner.