Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Pedigree Database

The Story, The Ironmen and the Statues

by Dyane Baldwin
former ACC Historian

The Story

The beginnings of the Chesapeake breed is generally attributed to the following account by George Law, first published in 1852:

Baltimore, Maryland
January 7th, 1845


In the fall of 1807 I was on board of the ship Canton, belonging to my uncle, the late-Hugh Thompson, of Baltimore, when we fell in, at sea, near the termination of a very heavy equinoctial gale, with an English brig in a sinking condition, and took off the crew. The brig was loaded with codfish, and was bound to Pole, in England, from Newfoundland. I boarded her, in command of a boat from the Canton, which was sent to take off the English crew, the brig's own boats having been all swept away, and her crew in a state of intoxication. I found onboard of her two Newfoundland pups, male and female, which I saved, and subsequently, on our landing the English crew at Norfolk, our own destination being Baltimore, I purchased these two pups of the English captain for a guinea apiece. Being bound again to sea, I gave the dog pup, which was called Sailor, to Mr. John Mercer, of West River; and the slut pup, which was called Canton, to Doctor James Stewart, of Sparrow's Point. The history which the English captain gave me of these pups was, that the owner of his brig was extensively engaged in the Newfoundland trade, and had directed his correspondent to select and send him a pair of pups of the most approved Newfoundland breed, but of different families, and that the pair I purchased of him were selected under this order, The dog was of a dingy red colour; and the slut black. They were not large; their hair was short, but very thick-coated; they had dew claws. Both attained great reputation as water-dogs. They were most sagacious in every thing; particularly so in all duties connected with duck-shooting. Governor Lloyd exchanged a Merino ram for the dog, at the time of the Merino fever, when such rams were selling for many hundred dollars, and took him over to his estate on the eastern shore of Maryland, where his progeny were well known for many years after; and may still be known there, and on the western shore, as the Sailor breed. The slut remained at Sparrow's Point till her death, and her progeny were and are still well known, through Patapsco Neck, on the Gunpowder, and up the bay, amongst the duck-shooters, as unsurpassed for their purposes. I have heard both Doctor Stewart and Mr. Mercer relate most extraordinary instances of the sagacity and performance of both dog and slut, and would refer you to their friends for such particulars as I am unable, at this distance of time, to recollect with sufficient accuracy to repeat.

Yours, in haste,


On inquiry since the date of the above, of Mr. Mercer and of Dr. J. Stewart, it is ascertained of the former, who owned Sailor, that

... he was of fine size and figure-lofty in his carriage, and built for strength and activity; remarkably muscular and broad across the hips and breast; head large, but not out of proportion; muzzle rather longer than is common with that race of dogs; his colour a dingy red, with some white on the face and breast; his coat short and smooth, but uncommonly thick, and more like a coarse fur than hair; tail full, with long hair, and always carried very high. His eyes were very peculiar: they were so light as to have almost an unnatural appearance, something resembling what is termed a wail eye, in a horse; and it is remarkable, that in a visit which I made to the Eastern Shore, nearly twenty years after he was sent there, in a sloop which had been sent expressly for him, to West River, by Governor Lloyd, I saw many of his descendants who were marked with this peculiarity.

While there is no recorded mating of the two dogs, tales of their hunting prowess and that of their progeny abound in early sporting books. In 1877 when strains from both the Eastern & Western shores of Maryland met at the Poultry & Fanciers Association Show in Baltimore, their similarities were sufficient to be recognized as one breed—the Chesapeake Bay Ducking Dog.

Pedigrees have been traced showing that the strains from Sailor & Canton mingled in the breedings at the Carroll Island Kennels. Dr. Charles Tilghman whose dogs descended from Sailor supplied many dogs to various ducking clubs along the Chesapeake Bay including Carroll Island. "Duck", who appeared in the Carroll Island records, traced back to Turk, a descendent of Canton. It is very likely that offspring of "Duck" were mated to those tracing to Tilghman's breeding. The Carroll Island kennel was connected with that of Dwight Mallory, the son-in-law of Edward Bartlett. Barlett kept his own kennel of Chesapeakes at "Twin Oaks" on his Back River ducking shore. In the next section, Barlett's connection to the "Ironmen" and the Chesapeake will be clearly seen.

The Ironmen

In 1832, George Hayward emigrated to Baltimore and entered the cast iron stove business. In 1844, David Bartlett moved his stove business to Baltimore from Boston and in 1849 went into a partnership with George & his brother Jonas. The Hayward, Barlett & Co. was formed. They manufactured stoves, architectural iron works, plumbing items, built locomotives and heating apparatus.

Both Haywards & Bartlett were inveterate sportsmen who for two generations owned three ducking shores (clubs) upon Chesapeake Bay. One was the Taylor's Island Ducking & Fishing Co. on the mouth of Mosquito Creek, whose marshes provided outstanding shooting of mallards, black duck and other river ducks. Another was at Twin Oaks where Dwight Mallory kept his kennel of Chesapeake Bay dogs. The third was Otter Point located at the head of the Gunpowder Neck, where much shooting of the favored canvasback was done.

In the 1850s it became fashionable to decorate one's lawn with cast iron statues of animals. Small wonder that with their interest in duck shooting and the family connection to the breed, that the Haywards & Barlett chose to portray Sailor & Canton as emblems for their business. The first statue was placed at the Light Street office and later moved to join its mate at the ironworks Scott & Pratt St. location. In 1899, new offices were built and the "dogs" were thrown in the scrap heap. In the early 1900s the company's fortunes came up short and the partners felt their luck had changed when the mascots were removed. The statues were rescued from the scrap pile and re-installed at the entrance of the offices and prosperity returned.

The Statues

Other iron statues similar to Hayward, Barlett & Co's "Sailor" and "Canton" can be found at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (1 statue); the Westfield Memorial Hospital in Westfield, NY (a pair); and at one time, one could be seen near the Eagle Antique Shop in Eagle, PA. The Westfield pair is painted completely black and was also rescued from a scrap heap in April 1955. The following regarding the Westfield pair was excerpted from Barbara Berry's article in the May/June 1978 ACC Bulletin.

The late Hubert Thompson, then Editor of the Westfield Republican, organized the fund needed to purchase back the dogs from a Mr. Oley Benson of 471 Delaware Aye, Buffalo who had in turn purchased them from a Mr. Callahan. The dogs had originally been given as a contribution to the scrap drive during the World War II effort.

The Spencer home, which became the Westfield Hospital, was built by Dr. John Spencer, a noted agriculturist, in1853. It is thought the dogs, of a hollow cast iron, were apart of the original embellishments of the Spencer estate as the home and the dogs, positioned now in front of the building, are pictured in an 1881 atlas.

The hospital opened as a 17 bed facility on August 29,1942. In the article of1955 when the dogs were returned to Westfield, it states, 'They will be painted black and relocated on the lawn of the Westfield Memorial Hospital. If the time comes when they are no longer wanted there they will be placed on the Westfield Academy and Central School lawn.'

About every person who grew up in Westfield can relate a tale told them about the iron dogs. "They bark every time the fire whistle blows" was a favorite story told the youngsters. Since they were inanimate objects and never did hear the fire whistle blow, this was not an untruth.

Many a youngster has sat astride the mastiffs and as can be observed, the iron statuary was fashioned to give the dogs a friendly facial expression.

In 1985 Jane Pappler located the Eagle, PA statue. It belonged at that time to a Mr. Harvey Funderwhite, now deceased. Jane's account from the May/June 1991 ACC Bulletin follows:

As I was driving north on Rt 100 in Downington, PA, I was enjoying the different antique shops and beautiful fall colors. By this one older house I noticed several statues under a big tree. One a deer and I thought the other a big dog of sorts. Could this possibly be one of the long lost Chesapeake statues? I knocked on the door of the house but no one was home. I knew I'd be back this way again twice a year for shows and promised myself I'd bring my camera and also investigate this with the owners. The next spring I forgot my camera but got to talk to Mr. Harvey Funderwhite. He was a very interesting gentleman of about 70 years. He had admired the dog ever since he was a boy, telling me it always stood outside of the local general store when he was growing up. About 15 years ago he had the money and bought his dream dog, paying $1200–$1500 for it. Harvey also said he knew of another one only about 7–8 miles away in someone's yard. Look for him in Eagle, PA, on the left, going north on RT 100, near Eagle antiques, standing proud, just like his brothers.

The Chesapeake Maritime Museum is located in St. Michael's, Maryland.Besides the statue, it features exhibits of various watercraft used on the bay, displays of hunting equipment, a lighthouse and decoys. Dogs are allowed on the grounds but not in the buildings. Many a Chesapeake has posed and been filmed beside its iron "ancestor". If you get the chance stop in and enjoy the exhibits and be certain to look for and see the statue.