Howard A. Brown

Nicknamed 'Hound Dog,' The Shore Huntsman Bred Foxhounds And Hunted Until His Late 80s

April 29, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,

Howard Arthur "Hound Dog" Brown, an Eastern Shore huntsman who bred foxhounds, was a fox hunter until his late 80s, when he switched from a horse to a pickup truck to continue his pursuit of the elusive prey.

Mr. Brown, who was 96, died in his sleep April 22 at Chestertown Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Mr. Brown was born in Baltimore and was raised in Reisterstown and Westminster. He attended Carroll County public schools until dropping out in the eighth grade.

"He then began working with horses. He wanted to be a veterinarian but didn't have the money to go to school," said his son, Richard L. Brown of Millington. "He could diagnose what was wrong with a horse or shoe them. He could do it all."

Mr. Brown began his career during the 1930s caring for and training horses owned by John William Young Martin, a former businessman and gentleman farmer, at Worthington Farms, Mr. Martin's 700-acre Worthington Valley estate.

One of Mr. Brown's early successes while in Mr. Martin's employ was Inshore, who captured the Grand National Point-to-Point timber race three times in the late 1930s.

After a business dispute with Mr. Martin ended their relationship, Mr. Brown went to work as a whipper-in and kennel man for Henry L. Straus, a Baltimore native, inventor of the totalisator pari-mutuel betting machine and founder of American Totalisator Co.

Mr. Straus had an extensive hunting and racing stable, and was master of the Carrollton Hounds in Carroll County.

After Mr. Straus was killed in an airplane crash in Port Deposit, Mr. Brown, who was also known as "Brownie," went to work in 1951 for Wilbur Ross Hubbard, a national and international figure in fox-hunting circles who lived at Widehall, a historic 1769 Georgian-style mansion overlooking the Chester River in Chestertown.

In addition to Widehall, Mr. Hubbard also owned a 2,000-acre Kent County farm where he kept his pack of 120 Penn-Marydel hounds and fox-hunting horses that were cared for by Mr. Brown.

Mr. Brown, who lived in a cottage near the kennel and barn, was also responsible for organizing and riding in fox hunts.

"Brownie was one of the most colorful figures in Maryland sporting history. He was a larger-than-life figure," said Ross Peddicord, The Sun's former racing writer and now co-publisher of Maryland Life. Mr. Peddicord went fox hunting, sometimes four times a week, with Mr. Brown during his student days at Washington College.

"He was a character from a different century, much like Tom Jones. He was a country horseman who knew the Kent County countryside backward and forward. He also bred horses for fox hunting. These horses were not racers or show horses, but were bred strictly for fox hunting," Mr. Peddicord recalled.

"Brownie was also a bon vivant who frequented the local bars and loved to tell stories. Everyone loved him," he said.

Mr. Brown, who was seldom without a chaw of Beechnut chewing tobacco held firmly in his jaw, liked to start fox hunting early in the day.

"He'd be out from early in the morning until 5 p.m. He'd stay out all day," Mr. Peddicord said.

Chestertown residents Elizabeth "Binnie" Fowler Houghton, and her husband, E. Edward Houghton, were longtime friends and hunting companions of Mr. Brown's. Mr. Houghton died in 2008.

"He was a wonderful man, and he was always glad you were with him when fox hunting," Mrs. Houghton said yesterday. "And he was awfully good with both the hounds and the horses."

She recalled Mr. Brown's affection for children and his "very outgoing and kind disposition."

"He was a very family-oriented man," she said.

Joan Hill, who now lives in Anguilla in the Caribbean, worked with Mr. Brown for 27 years.

"He was the finest huntsman, blacksmith, houndsman and everything connected with the sport," Ms. Hill said in an e-mail.

After undergoing successful knee replacement surgery in 1991, Mr. Brown rebounded and was back in the saddle within six months.

Eventually, unable to ride any longer, Mr. Brown chased the hounds in his 1979 Pontiac or his blue 1984 pickup.

Mr. Brown retired after Mr. Hubbard's death in 1993.

In addition to his hounds and horses, Mr. Brown enjoyed working each summer in a large vegetable garden, and holding homemade scrapple feasts at his home.

"He supplied everyone with fresh vegetables and never sold a damn thing. He just loved vegetable gardening," his son said. "He loved the outdoors and had a way with horses and dogs. That was his total life."

His wife of 64 years, the former Mary Agnes "Peggy" Bull, died in 1998.

Services were held Monday in Chestertown.

Also surviving are a daughter, Ruthann House Tidwell of Oklahoma City; three grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-granddaughters.

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