Finley River Chief
Breeding Today For Hounds Of Tomorrow!



There is no way anyone can have a website about the history of the Treeing Walker breed and not have a page or section on Lester Nance and his impact and contribution he had on this great breed we all call Treeing Walker.  Who named the Treeing Walker?  LESTER NANCE.  Who was the first to get the Treeing Walker registered?  LESTER NANCE  Who kept the fires burnig with Dr. Fuhrman of UKC to get the Treeing Walker registered with UKC?  LESTER NANCE.  Who owned the first Treeing Walker World Champion?  LESTER NANCE.

A person could go on and on about the firsts that was brought about by a man from Indiana named Lester Nance.  Today with the nice trucks, lights, tracking devices, good highways, cell phones, hunts within reasonable driving distances almost every weekend, and all the other things that we take for granted in our sport today it is easy to forget it use to be harder.

Think of a time when most any truck was a farm truck and that was what it was used for.  A time when most hunters didn't have a truck and used their car or had a trailer to pull with their car.  It was a carbide light and for the bright light you had a big D cell flashlight.  The big deal came when they came out with a charger for the batteries so we wouldn't have to buy so many batteries during the year.

If you were on the road and you wanted or needed to make a phone call you had to find a phone booth with a pay phone.  No calling cards back then.  Either you put the money in the phone or called collect.  You didn't have the interstate highways like we do today.  Most of the traveling was on two lane roads and highways.  Most of the people going to the hunts and shows once they got started wasn't doing it for the money, but to be able to compete and see who had the best hound.  Also to make new friends.  Many friendships came into being from people meeting other people at these hunts they traveled a great distance every weekend to attend.

These people loved to coonhunt, the competition events grew out of the love for this sport called coonhunting.  It wasn't easy back then but these men did it because they loved it, not for the money but for a love of the sport.

Lester Nance became interested in Walkers when he bought White River King as an 8 month old puppy.  King was born in 1932.  With White River King as the fountain head for his line of dogs, Mr. Nance began looking around by 1942 for a place to start a new breed registry for his line of dogs.  He decided that since they were from the Walker Foxhound breeding and the Walker name was respected among foxhound people he would call them TREEING WALKERS.

After inquiring from other types or hounds and sporting dog people Mr Nance started making contacts.  He first contacted A.K.C. (American Kennel Club), and got a nice letter back stating they were not interested in starting a new breed registry.  Mr. Nance then went to U.K.C. (United Kennel Club).  He got the same reply. "We're not interested in any new stud files".  Mr. Nance keep the fires burning with Dr. Fuhrman, the President of UKC at the time, but he couldn't get anything positive started.

Mr. Nance then wrote Mr. Walker, the man behind FULL CRY magazine, with his ideas and Mr. Nance was met with more consideration then previous contacts with other registries.  After corresponding for some time with Mr. Walker of Full Cry a Treeing Walker Registry was finally started with Full Cry Kennel Club and recorded as Treeing Walkers.

The Full Cry Kennel Club Registry was started in December, 1940.  Mr. Walker started the first Treeing Walker registry prior to May, 1943.  White River King F.C.K.C. #374 was the first Treeing Walker ever recorded.  In the Jully 1944 issue of FULL CRY was the first ad to advertise the breed, TREEING WALKER.

It was more than two years later before U.K.C. first recorded English Coohnound (Walker Treeing) and it was not until 1978 that U.K.C. finally gave the Treeing Walker coonhounds back the original name that Lester Nance gave them, TREEING WALKERS.


The Legends Of ACHA
(c) 2013
The Legends Of ACHA
By Don Nicely
P.O. Box 69 Gradyville, PA  19039

How many people know the complete story and history of George Washington?  I would suspect most everyone knows his name because he is on the dollar bill and the quarter.  Everyone that has been to school should know he was the first president of the United States Of America.  Now I say that and I have actually met young people who didn't know who he was.  Do most people know that he was called the indispensable man?  In doing research on our country and it's founding a person will find out just how important George Washington was to the founding of our country.  I believe it is important we know things about history that may be so far removed from us we might not consider it important.  But I feel like it is important to know where we came from to understand where we should be going.

With our sport of coon hunting there has been many pioneers of our sport that helped create the sport and breeds that we find so captivating when we make the first mistake of getting bit by the coon hunting bug.  Many whose names have long been forgotten.  Hopefully with this column I may be able to mention some of these names so their contribution to our sport may be remembered.  What got me to thinking along these lines was that I had just learned that on December 16, 2012 Lester Nance would have been 100 years old.  When I talk to a young hunter that likes the Walker hounds and they look puzzled when the name NANCE or LESTER NANCE is brought up I think about all the contributions he made to our sport and to the Treeing Walker Breed.

As George Washington would have been one of the indispensable men in the founding of our country, Lester Nance would have been one of the indispensable men in the founding of the Treeing Walker Breed and our sport of coon hunting.  Lester Nance owned the first World Champion Treeing Walker back when there was only One World Championship.  The ACHA World Hunt.  In 1949 Lester Nance won the world hunt with a dog named WHITE RIVER BOONE.  That same year Mr. Nance also owned WHITE RIVER ROWDY who placed second in the ACHA World Championship so she would have been the World Champion Female that year. 

Rowdy's sire was WHITE RIVER KING.

Back in that time if you will go through the old magazines you will see mostly Redones, Black & Tans, Blueticks and Ploltts.  During this time about the only Walkers you'd see advertised were by Lester Nance, Floyd Reeder, Paul Forrester,  K.B. or Dick Hershberger, J.H. Flessner, S.G. Hegarty, William Ralph, George Zenk, George Forney.  Names that you will still see if you follow a dog's pedigree back far enough.

Lester Nance had a lot of involvement with the Treeing Walker Breed in numerous ways.  Besides having the first Treeing Walker World Champion he was also the first president of the National Treeing Walker Association.  The meeting to form that organization was held in July of 1946.  From that meeting Lester Nance was elected President, Russell Baker Vice-President and George Zenk Secy-Treas.  A committee was appointed to develop a constitution, by-laws, and standards of Treeing Walkers.  That same committee met with Dr. E.G. Fuhrman of UKC for a meeting that lasted all night. Floyd Reeder had been responsible for the Treeing Walker Standards.  At this meeting with Dr. Fuhrman the standards were debated for a considerable length of time before they were finalized.

Before this meeting in October of 1946 Lester Nance had been busy years before trying to find a place to start a new breed registry. He became interested in Walkers with the purchase of WHITE RIVER KING who was born in 1932.  He bought him as a eight month old pup.   By 1942 he began to look around for a place to start a new breed registry for his line of dogs..  He decided since they were from Walker Foxhound breeding and the Walker name was so respected among foxhound men he would call them Treeing Walkers.  He first contacted AKC and they told him they weren't interested in starting a new breed registry.  UKC told him they weren't interested in any new stud files.  Mr. Nance kept the fires burning with Dr. Fuhrman but couldn't get anything positive started at that time.  Lester Nance wrote to Ralph Walker of Full Cry Magazine.  After corresponding for some time a Treeing Walker Registry was finally started with Full Cry Kennel Club and recorded as Treeing Walker.

In the July 1944 issue of Full Cry in an ad Mr. Nance was the first to advertise the new breed, TREEING WALKER.    It was more then two years later before UKC first recorded English Coonhound (Walker Treeing) and was not until 1978 that UKC finally gave the Treeing Walker coonhounds back the original name Lester Nance gave them, TREEING WALKER.  Lester Nance was involved in many of the different phrases of history in our sport of coon hunting and the competition parts of that sport.  The NCA or National Coonhound Association played an important part in the early stages of our sport.  They had Futurities in the early 50's and many of the hounds that make up some of the foundation stock of the Treeing Walker breed were Nite Champions.  A fact you wouldn't know today by looking at a set of papers because they weren't UKC but NCA Nite Champions.

Mr. Nance's grandson Kip Gordon who was raised next door to his grand dad and still hunts and breeds these White River Hounds and is the keeper of much of the history of Lester Nance.  His current project is named after one of the names you will see in this article.  He calls him Mr. Baker named for Russell Baker.  Kip sent me information taken from one of Mr. Nance's journal that he kept notes in that tells some of the story of these hounds that became the first registered Treeing Walkers and an important part of the foundation of the breed.  Kip guesses that it was written around 1939.

The Words Of Lester Nance

  The History of the Nance strain of Treeing Walker coonhounds has been a rather vague and much talked about subject among coonhound men for the past several years.  Never before has the true origin of this popular strain of tree dogs appeared in print.  
  I will start at the beginning of this breed as far back as I can relate the true ancestory.
  About the year 1900, Duke Shell, from Perkinsville, Indiana, brought back from southern Ohio a walker dog by the name of Ring.  There was quite a story connected to this deal, part of which I will relate.
  Mr. Shell was a book salesman making trips through Indiana and southern Ohio. Being a lover of hounds and especially coonhounds, he was always taking hunts and talking with fellows about coon hunting. Mr. Shell had made the acquaintance of a colored fellow, the porter at the hotel in Ohio. This porter had been hunting several times with Ring and his praises for this dog were exceptionally high.  Mr. Shell enjoyed a few nights hunting with Ring and the porter.  When making inquiry as to who owned Ring, Mr. Shell was informed that Ring had no owner. The dog had just drifted into town and anyone that wanted to go hunting just took old Ring. It seemed Ring just hunted the game you wanted to hunt.  Day hunting, rabbits and squirrels. Night, coon preferred, occasionally an opossum .  
  Mr. Shell wanted to buy Ring and bring him back to Indiana.  The colored porter told Mr. Shell he would get old Ring for him if he would pay him the sum of $3.00. The dog was delivered the next morning, however the porter had substituted another black and white spotted hound. The dog was not accepted and after two more dollars was giving, Ring was on his way to Indiana. He was placed in the hands of Perry Shell, brother of Duke.

Everett Benefield's old Frank, sired by Ring.
 One of the first coondogs I can remember was old Frank. This dog was 13 years old the only time I ever saw him work. He was a true walker type trail dog. He cast out well on a loss and was very consistent on finishing his tracks.  Old Frank was one of the greatest, if not the greatest river dog that ever hunted this territory.  Benefield hunted old Frank on the river all his life. A truly great tree dog. Frank was the true Treeing Walker type, standing on the best of feet and legs. Body confirmation was well in purportion, a medium ear and a medium wide head. A good square muzzle and large dark eye. Old Frank had a rather heavy coat of hair, heavy tail but not a full flag. Old Frank was a light color of black fading off into a light tan with some white in the chest and on the feet.  Several females were mated to old Frank. I can recall 4 litters sired by Frank. I only recall one male sired by this dog that showed the earmarks of making a top cooner. But every female I ever saw was a whirlwind. His reputation as a sire followed him in that manner too.
 I recall a Frank female, Twinkle, owned by Ted Hosier. She was running and treeing coon at the unbelievable age of 14 months.  At that time a coon dog was a pup until they were 4or 5 years of age. They just didn't even try to break a dog until they were 3 years old.
  Old Frank was mated to Perry McKlintock's Spottie female. 
  This mating proved very successful. Four females from this litter made quite a record but the one we are most interested in following was Foland's Queen. 
  John Foland bought Queen as a pup. Queen was let to run on her own until she was three years old. Mr. Foland was well up in his sixties and was in the hospital ill when Herman Bray, an old hunting friend, went to see him.  Foland offered to sell Queen to any one interested. Bray offered to hunt Queen for Foland rather than have him sell her so she was off the market and sent home with Mr. Bray. 
  Foland's Queen was a typical old Frank female.  She was of the same type, confirmation and color as her sire. She had the same chop mouth and if a difference in ability could be made, Queen possessed a little more hunting spirit. Perhaps I have no right to make that statement since I only saw Frank work as an old dog and saw Foland's Queen work when she was at her best.  In all the dogs I have ever seen work, there isn't one I can recall that was a more tireless hunter and a better strike and trail dog. 
  Mr. Bray had taken me, a 15 year old kid, under his wing as a hunting partner. So I had the opportunity to see Queen work the two years Bray hunted her.  Inexperienced as I was in dog work, I can still remember those two seasons hunting with Queen and old Speed. As the years role by I can appreciate even more the dog power we had at that time.  The second season we hunted every coon track we hit was truly a treat.  We hit 27 coon tracks that season and finished 24 and killed 7coon.  The three trails we didn't get finished, two were lost in a down pour of rain and we finally called them off the other track figuring it was just to cold. 
  That was a record catch for this territory at that time.  Coon tracks were like finding gold and to catch a coon was the exhibit of the community.  
  Mr. Foland had recovered from his illness enough by this season that he hunted a few nights with us.  Although I didn't own any dog, I was hunting every night possible. I made Bray and Foland promise to raise a litter of pups from this pair of dogs that spring. 
  Bray's Speed dog was the only direct Walker Fox bred dog that was crossed into this line of Treeing Walkers.  Speed was purchased from Mr. Cummins, an auctioneer from Ladoga, In.  Speed ran as a derby dog in the Indiana fox hunters annual meet. Placing  eighth.  He was run on fox for three years. A rather speedy built dog. Black and white in color and heavy coat.  He carried pretty close to a full flag tail. Stood a good strong 24 inches and weighed 55 pounds. A medium to small ear and good wide head. He had the appearance of an exceptionally long nosed dog.  Big V  notches that had been taken in the ends of each ear contributed to the long nose appearance. His breeder marked all his fox dogs that way.  His scarred up head didn't add much to his beauty either.  His first appearance wasn't very impressive yet one had to admire a nearly perfect set of feet and legs plus a strong well arched back.  Old Speed was appreciated most in the timber.  This was truly a great tree dog even though he came direct from fox bred walkers.
  I have seen old Speed stay to his tree for hours right through a cloud burst of rain and the lightning cracking all around him. He had that certain nack to just find the end of the tracks he run.
  In the four years I hunted old Speed he never ran a fox. A straight coon dog at that time was unheard of.  However there wasn't any doubt when old Speed was running Mr. Ringtail. He always bawled on a coon trail and chopped on opossum and skunk.  He had an exceptionally nice tree bark.  A long  warbelling bawl followed by three or four deep chop barks.
  There were several anxious hunters awaiting the arrival of the Queen  and Speed litter born March 20th, 1932. We were blessed with plenty of pups, 7 male and 5 females.  I purchased 2 females at weaning time. One of my females got killed by an auto at age of 3 months and the other pup I later spoiled,  finally giving her away. Bray kept 4 male pups. My cousin, Bob Nance, was keeping three pups for Bray and as pay was to receive 1 pup.  In August Bob and I began to hunt these pups. We would always get the ole Speed dog to take along.  Bray was keeping his choice of the litter at home, a pup he called King. In order to get old Speed we always had to take this King pup along. That pup was the only pup that went all the way every time.  We hunted 5 and 6 pups with old Speed two or three nights every week that fall. I remember old Speed getting away from us on a coon track when those pups were about 6 months of age. All of the pups came back but King.  This was near 10 o'clock. We could not find them by midnight and just came home. The next morning my uncle drove down and told me that old Speed was treed across the creek in front of his house. He had been there since 10:30 last night.  We drove up and got old Speed at 8 o'clock. The King pup was still there too but was not barking. They were treed on an oak den.  We had all of those pups running and barking treed by opening night of the season. Old Speed was nearing his 12th birthday but was as active as an 8 year old. We took 12 coon with the old dog and 3 of his pups that season. Foland's were hunting Queen and a pair of pups with her. This King pup of Bray's seemed to be the outstanding pup of the litter. We took two coons that season King had treed all alone. To be sure I wanted him. I finally got him bought for 25 dollars and made Bray promise not to tell anyone.  That was big money for a dog and unheard of money for an 8 month old pup.

I want to thank Kip Gordon for his effort in getting this information to me in Lester Nance's own words.  If a person likes and hunts this breed of hounds called Treeing Walker they should know the name LESTER NANCE because he is the one that gave that breed their name.


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White River King was the first registered Treeing Walker. He is the father of White River Rowdy. If you go back deep in the pedigrees White River King and White River Rowdy are dogs that you will see in so many hounds.


N&K SPARKIE Sold by Lester Nance