Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Celebration/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.

In a 1985 interview with writer/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.
Mr. Underwood didn't put up with no foolishness.

For 76 years, there has been a Labor Day celebration at the graveyard with food, music, crafts, clogging, and storytelling.  We are heading that way this morning for this year's celebration.  See you there?