Thursday, September 6, 2012

Coon Dog Cemetery

Key Underwood loved his coon dogs.  He and his beloved dog, Troop, hunted together for fifteen years before Troop died.  Mr. Underwood wanted to honor his friend by doing something special.

On Labor Day in 1937, Mr. Underwood buried Troop near a popular spot in the woods where hunters gathered to listen to their dogs run and swap stories.  Other hunters began burying their dogs near Troop's grave, and the area became known as the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard.

The graveyard contains 185 coon dog graves today.  Here's a sampling of headstones identifying  the dear deceased dogs.

I am embarrassingly ignorant of coon dog folklore, so I don't know why there are pennies on the stone.  Please enlighten me if you can.

In a 1985 interview with columnist Rheta Grimsly Johnson, Mr. Underwood stated that a California woman had contacted him wanting to know why he wouldn't allow other kinds of dogs to be buried
in the graveyard.  His response: 

You must not know much about coon hunters and their dogs, if you think we would contaminate this burial place with poodles and lap dogs.
I told you coon hunters were serious about what they do.

For 75 years, there has been a Labor Day celebration at the graveyard with food, music, crafts, clogging, and storytelling.  We attended for the first time on Monday, and it was a great day.  The music was good, the smell of barbecue filled the air, and we loved seeing many old friends.

Ole Troop would have been proud.