Gray’s Buck and Skullfork Tilly
By Troy Barber
Skullfork Tilly was bred by the great John Landrum from Lumberton, Mississippi. Mr. John was inducted into the Hounds & Hunting Hall of Fame in 1982 and served on the beagle advisory committee with the AKC for a number of years. An old brace trialer, Mr. John saw a need for a field trial format suited for the gun hunter. He, along with a few others, were instrumental in developing and laying the foundation for the Deep South Beagle Gundog Federation.
Mr. John also saw the need to breed hounds more suited for gun hunting. It was this mindset that led him to breed two of his best females to Weir Creek Buzz owned by W.P. Land. Buzz went back to Fish Creek bloodlines and ultimately back to Yellow Creek breeding. Mr. John bred littermate sisters Skullfork Josey and Skullfork Princess to Buzz. These two crosses produced several offspring but none that suited Mr. John therefore he kept none of them. He sold most of them to his nephew Edward Smith and Gordon Ladner. There was a female out of Buzz x Princess named Gordon’s Little Bonnie and a male out of Buzz x Josey named Swamp Run Buzz. They (Edward and Gordon) bred Swamp Run Buzz to Gordon’s Little Bonnie; this cross produced a male named Southfork JoJo. Now keep in mind that JoJo’s parents were half-brother/sister on the top and first cousins on the bottom. Also keep in mind that the top and bottom were totally unrelated. Sometimes history gets so twisted and tangled that the real truth is lost in the midst and credit is not given where credit is due. Although seldom given credit, Gordon Ladner and Edward Smith are responsible for producing Southfork JoJo and numerous others. They eventually decided to sell all their beagles and Mr. John bought all of them but only kept Southfork JoJo and his mother Gordon’s Little Bonnie. He loved JoJo and centered his breeding program around him for the next few years. JoJo has his place in history and should be credited for it but, in my opinion, JoJo was the downfall of John Landrum and the Skullforks hounds. He bred him so tightly to his mother, daughters, granddaughters and back again that the size began to shrink along with pointed noses, poor mouths and conformation, not to mention the seizures that were magnified.
When Mr. John was brace trialing, if a dog came along with too much foot for trialing he would pass it on to some of his gun hunting buddies. Malcolm Pearson was one of those buddies and Skullfork Countiss was one of those hounds. She was also a daughter of Skullfork Princess and sired by Pearson Creek Fred. Malcolm bred Countiss to her son Black Creek Joe III, not because he thought it would work but because he was too tight wadded to pay a stud fee so he bred what was ready to what was available. I’ve heard it said that this mother/son breeding (Joe x Countiss) was an accidental mating, NOT TRUE. But regardless of these facts, this cross produced two great females named Black Creek Polly II and Black Creek Dolly. After gun hunting with Polly & Dolly their first season John Landrum saw the raw talent and ability of these two females. So eventually he talked Malcolm into allowing him to breed both of them to Southfork JoJo. The Polly/JoJo cross was made five times, Mr. John actually raised the first three litters then Malcolm saw the success of the cross and he raised the last two litters himself before selling Polly to Glynn Windham. Many of the offspring of JoJo and Polly, including Skullfork Tilly, would go on to become foundation stock for many beagle kennels throughout the south. I know it seems like I’ve gone around the world but I wanted to lay a good foundation for later discussion.
Don’t miss the rest of this article. You can find it on page 26 of our June issue.