Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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nina and lilly McKee.lees.cropNina McKee and daughter Lily McKee at the Warrenton Hunt Junior Meet in December, 2017. Lily is the great-great-granddaughter of William Almy. / Douglas Lees photo

Ninety-nine years ago, William Almy, twenty-two, was Master of the Quansett Hounds in South Westport, Massachusetts. Almy and his hounds hunted the fox from Quansett Farm, in the possession of the Almy family since 1700. The farm was situated on the northern shore of Buzzards Bay where the bay meets Rhode Island Sound. At the time of his death in 1979, he’d been a member of the Masters of Foxhounds Association for nearly fifty-six years.

In his time, Almy was recognized as the leading amateur huntsman in North America. He hunted English, American, and Crossbred hounds through his career as Master and huntsman of Quansett and Groton Hunts in Massachusetts, and Culpeper and Warrenton Hunts in Virginia. Almy was constantly in demand as a judge at horse shows and hound shows.

Almy believed that hounds must be bred for the country in which they hunt, and he continued that practice wherever he went. He took his Quansett pack of Welsh-American Crossbreds to Virginia, adding a draft of English hounds brought over by his Culpeper Joint-Master, but gradually changed over to a mostly American pack, finding that breed best-suited for sport in the Virginia country.

He returned to Quansett in 1934, and crossed his Welsh-Fell bloodlines with American Walker, Trigg, and Virginia strains, producing a pack that showed superb sport for another twenty years.

When in 1926 the MFHA (located in Boston) incorporated, Almy was one of the seven incorporators. He was elected a member of the Executive Committee in 1940, secretary of the Association in 1949, and served as president of the MFHA from 1960 to 1970.

During Almy’s term as president, a youthful group of upstarts, led by the late MFHs Sherman Haight, Alexander Mackay-Smith, and others, petitioned to limit the terms of MFHA leadership with the purpose of stimulating the association to be more responsive to the needs of the members. The MFHA’s biggest shakeup resulted in the current practice of fixed three-year terms for officers.

William Almy is a 1999 inductee into the Huntsmen’s Room at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting in Leesburg, Virginia.

Posted February 26, 2018

Comments   

# Norman Fine 2018-03-01 16:48
Comment from Susie Ashcom: During our last years with Bradbury Foxhounds in Rehoboth, MA, Bobby connected with Mr. Almy & we took our Piedmont-bred (thanks to Mrs. Randolph) hounds hunting @ Quansett each Saturday for 2 or 3 years until we moved back to VA in ’72. We were so lucky to have his expert guidance during our early years with the pack. Mr. Almy & daughter Susan Yacubian (Lily’s grandmother) were always mounted and Mr.A kept up a running commentary of what Bobby should do next while hunting! They drank a lot of bourbon back at Quansett after the hunt.
Sherry Buttrick (now MFH of the Farmington Beagles) was a jr. whip for us then & she wrote a marvelous poem entitled “Ode to Barney’s Joy” about a New Years hunt out on Barneys Joy with the wind sweeping in off the water—the coldest I have ever been! And Mr. A would not let us call it a Day. I was on the verge of tears & can still feel it!
Norfolk Hunt traveled every season to hunt there after we left.
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# Norman Fine 2018-03-01 16:57
Comment from Paul Kraus in Connecticut: My enthusiasm for sailing led me to buy a second home in Westport MA in 1989. Through a gal I met on a foxhunting trip to Exmoor, I eventually boarded my horses with Almy’s daughter, Susan Yacubian, who lived in the family homestead and ran the Quansett Farm barn.
The farm overlooked Buzzards Bay to the south with views of the Elizabeth Islands on clear days. The land surrounding the Almy property was still all farms and woods, quite flat and practically begged to be hunted! They must have had one helluva time there back in the day!
Your article stirred up some pleasant memories for me!
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