Empire Beagle Club
by Michael Sergio, AKC Executive Field Representative
The Empire Beagle Club was organized at Albany, N. Y. in December of 1911. This was the first beagle club in New York and the tenth in the United States. Their first field trial was held October 29, 1912 at Jonesville, N. Y. The dogs were sexed and ran in the thirteen inch or fifteen inch class. The field trial lasted four days and was attended by folks from New York, Pennsylvania and the New England area. On the fifth day after running brace on cottontail rabbits the group went to the vicinity of Corinth, N. Y. and ran sexed classes on snowshoe hares in large packs. This practice was discontinued shortly afterwards with the advent of new clubs holding field trials on hare. The club had one meeting a year the night before their trial.
The club moved around to different locations such as Salem, N. Y., Saratoga Lake, N. Y., and Acra, N. Y. In 1952 the club purchased their grounds in Nassau, N. Y. They put up a pre-fabricated aluminum building for a clubhouse. They developed the running grounds and built kennels. In 1961 they had their "Golden Anniversary" and it was a great success. After a half century, two of the fifteen charter members were still living. They were Herman Gietz and Willet Randall. In 1964 the club hosted the newly formed Northeastern Derby Federation and in 1968 the federation expanded and added futurities, which made it a four day field trial.
As time went on the need for more members became evident and they recruited new members. Many of the new members ran Gundog Beagles, not Brace Beagles. The club has one hundred and fifty acres with twenty-five and thirty-five acre enclosures. For training, they have a three dog running limit in both enclosures and all members can run in either enclosure. According to club president, Richard Umholtz and field trial secretary, Robert Miller, they said this arrangement works well because the members respect each other.
This club runs a traditional brace trail and a gundog brace trial with all members helping out. They also have a formal pack, Old Chatham Pack, which belongs to the club. At their license brace trial the formal pack folks ran the kitchen on Saturday. It was great to see a club function with so much harmony. They are waiting for their 100th Anniversary in 2011.