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   Dog Capitol of the World
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The Village of Herrick once held the distinction of being known far and wide as Dogtown, U.S.A. From the early nineteen hundreds to the nineteen fifties the "dog business" played a major role in this small town.

Selling hunting hounds was a lucrative business and provided many jobs for home town folks. Housewives earned money at home addressing and stamping literature and others worked in the offices. Local sawmills provided the lumber and men and boys were employed to build shipping crates. In one year over 40,000 postcards were mailed by Kaskaskia Kennels alone for advertising. Extra help was hired by the Post Office to handle the huge load of mail coming and going. Mail came from everywhere, some simply addressed to Dogtown, Illinois.

Hounds were shipped to every state in the Union, Canada, Mexico, Trinidad, Panama, South America, and even some European countries. The most popular breeds of coonhounds, fox hounds, combination hunting hounds and rabbit hounds were shipped. The beagle was the favorite rabbit hound of many hunters.

The kennels advertised in the popular hunting and sports magazines, thus making Herrick well known nation-wide. Out-of-state licenses became frequent sight in Herrick, especially on weekends, as people drove in from surrounding states to visit the kennels and pick out a hound, even as far away as New York. This was called the "drive-in" trade. Many Inquiries were made by phone and in the early days this required much shouting and help from the operator.

Shipping days were a busy time for anyone connected with the business. Dogs had to be chosen for each order and put in crates which contained straw for bedding and containers for food and water. Much office work had taken place before bringing the dogs to the depot, where more frantic office work took place before "train time". Each dog had to be vaccinated. The veterinarian, Doctor O.G. Beck, and his assistant were kept busy all day giving shots and examining the dogs before shipment.

The dog business was booming and at its peak kennels in Herrick shipped over two hundred dogs in one day. At the peak of the yearly season, the number of dogs shipped each day, for a month or more, never fell below one hundred. At times the Nickel Plate Railroad was forced to place empty cars on the side tracks to avoid delaying the train too long while loading dogs.

Joe Adams operated the first dog business from Herrick. In 1913 the Kaskaskia Kennels was incorporated by Will Elton Beck, a true outdoorsman who loved hounds and the chase. In the early days he led his dog and carried the crate on his shoulders from the "Bump Place" in the country to the depot in Herrick.

In 1918-1919 he served in the army, returning to build his business bigger and better. His brothers were a part of the endeavor; Dick and Ervin printed all the literature and Charlie was kept busy making dog collars, name plates, and other supplies. They sold dog medicine, fox horns, and even their own brand of dogfood. Elton compiled a small book entitled "The Trail Hound", which featured pictures, stories, and poems about hounds and hunting, articles describing dog deseases and their treatment and advertised supplies for sale by the kennel. He was an active member of the Illinois Coon and Fox Hunters Association and each year his hounds were consistent winners of ribbons and prizes in the various events. He developed his own "Beck's Strain", and his sturdy breed was a favorite with Canadians for hunting wolf and used in Trinidad for hunting wild boar.

In August 1925, Elton wed Pearl Mae Horn. He was already a prosperous business man. At this time he was almost blind and never clearly saw any of his four children, Clarice, Challys, Bradley, and Elaine.

"Hay Jim" Sarver and his sons Frank and Forrest operated the Dixie Kennels. Forrest dropped out of the hunting dog business, leaving Frank to operate the well known Dixie Kennels for many years.

The Wildwood Kennels was owned and operated by O.L. Horn. For many years Earl wilson was the main supplier of hounds for Wildwood. Later Leland Burrus had this part of the business. Both men were experienced and handled the job well.

In 1942 Leland Burrus began advertising his Crescent Hound Kennel and Herrick Hound Kennel. He made many trips south to buy dogs, making sure to be in Scottsboro, Alabama for "Coon Dog Day" which was held every first Monday on the square. He became well known as a sharp trader and a man who knew hunting dogs. In 1952 Leland was sole supplier of dogs for all the kennels in Herrick, taking pride in the fact that an average of only three out of every hundred dogs shipped were returned.

Other kennels were Echo Valley operated by Ralph Horn, Okaw Valley operated by Dewey Sarver, Maplewood operated by Randall Frailey, and Beck's Creek operated by Lee Price. At one time there were nine kennels in the area.

When the Railway Express offices were closed, dogs had to be shipped by air. This proved expensive and inconvienient and led to the demise of the dog business in Herrick, which is now just a nostalgic memory of the "good ole days".

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