Thursday, October 5, 2017

10/6/17 Dr. Robert Elrod Sr and Ottawa Creek Farm part 2

This post will continue the story of Dr. Robert Elrod and his Ottawa Creek Farm, a breeding establishment and show barn located near Toledo Ohio from 1929 through 1985.  Many wonderful horses were raised and trained there, including Ottawa's Empress.  Although not bred by Dr. Elrod, she was a favorite of the whole family and shown by Dr. Elrod, Mrs. Elrod and son Bob during the late 1940's and into 1950.  She begins this week's post covering the 1950's and 1960's.

Purchased in 1947 for $5000 as a 5 year old mare, she was at that time called Wait For Me.  Her original name, Dazzling Queen, gave reference to her breeding, being sired by Dazzling McDonald.  Dr. Elrod renamed her Ottawa's Empress, which stuck with her the remainder of her life.  She was shown extensively in fine harness by both Dr. & Mrs. Elrod, as well as their son Bob. She was apparently the last horse shown by Martha Elrod, who became ill.  Bob Elrod stated without hesitation that she was his favorite of all the horses they had throughout the years.  Ottawa's Empress was well-mannered and could always be counted on to give a good show, but sometimes she went a step above.  According to one eyewitness, in the Championship at the Ohio State Fair, she was making her usual excellent show and, it seemed she was well on the way to winning it; but just as they were reversing across the ring, a fireworks display started up at the fairgrounds and on the first BOOM, some of the horses jumped off their feet and became a bit unruly; but not the Empress!  She just became twice the horse she had been   She was breathtaking.  Another horseman who knew Ottawa's Empress said he thought she and Doc Elrod beat Garland Bradshaw and Kate Shriver when they showed against one another.  It must have been on one of those days when she went "a step above."  However, as with all the horses at the farm, even the Empress was for sale.   That day came on August 30, 1950 when Ottawa's Empress sold to J. Brooks for $12,000.  The sale took place in a hotel room during a show, and it was transacted in cash.  According to Bob, they were hiding bills everywhere.  That was a lot of money for the times, and it wasn't your typical method of payment.

Ottawa's Empress under saddle with Dr. Elrod


Ottawa's Empress in harness with Mrs. Elrod

Dr. Elrod would eventually purchase Ottawa's Empress' dam and re-breed her to Dazzling McDonald, but he never succeeded in raising another colt of her caliber.  Ottawa's Empress continued to show for a few more years and then became a broodmare for Brookmont Farm.  Her second foal, CH Double Indemnity, ended up as a Reserve Word's Champion (RWC) when he placed 2nd in the stallion/gelding Fine Harness Stake at Louisville.  He earned his CHampion status. 

Dr. Elrod, although an amateur, was a highly qualified and sought after judge.   He judged Louisville three times in 1954, 1957 and 1960, as well as Pin Oak, Lexington, and the Missouri State Fair.  Other shows he judged included Miami & Tampa FL, Los Angeles, Harrodsburg KY, Lancaster &  Harrisburg PA, Ft Wayne & Auburn IN, Springfield MA, Greenbrier WV, Nashville TN and South Africa.   His last show as a judge was River Ridge in 1974.  In his role as horse show judge, he traveled throughout the country and interacted with many other trainers and breeders.  Dr Elrod had numerous friends in the saddle horse industry and routinely purchased horses from, or sold to many well-known horsemen including  Chester Caldwell, Garland Bradshaw,  Frank Bradshaw,  George Gwinn, Howard Dickey, Mark Dickey and Eli Long.

Nashville Tennessee Horse Show judges in 1954
Dick Duncan, Dr. Elrod, Bill Cunningham

His knowledge of bloodlines was nothing short of phenomenal, and it was apparent he had his preferences for the bloodlines of San Juan, Chester Dare, and Lee Rose McDonald.  As time went on, Anacacho Denmark stallion lines gained favor.  He loved the discussion of pedigrees and would enthusiastically share his opinions and stories of great horses. Dr. Elrod fostered the interest in saddlebred bloodlines with many people over the years and was happy to share his knowledge.  

Although Dr. Elrod was an accomplished horseman, his occupation demanded much of his time and he often employed a trainer.  Over the years they included Marvin Wood, Earl Combs, JR Ragsdale, Claude Alexander, Bill Robinson & Neil Leitner.  At other times, he would work his own horses with utmost competency and great results.  He also mentored young people who had an interest in horses and taught them how to green break, gait, and finish horses. 

His son Bob Elrod said Dr. Elrod never required much sleep, and it’s apparent in his work routine.  He would get up early and go to the farm to work horses, and then go see patients and have a full day of work.  Then it was back to the farm to spend more time with the horses.  A friend said, “He wasted no time.”  Sometimes horse shows entered the equation and it was still the same, show a horse, return to the hospital and see patients, back to the farm and work horses. 

Dr. Elrod had hoped his son would follow his footsteps into the medical profession.  After one year at Vanderbilt, Bob Jr decided it wasn’t for him.  He came home to train horses for his Dad.  This went well for a while until he was drafted into the Army in 1950.  After coming back from the service, he attended The Ohio State University and became a veterinarian. 

Robert Elrod Jr was in the US Army from 1950 to 1952



The early 1950’s were a difficult time for Dr. Elrod.  His stallion, Jean LaFitte, died just 3 short years after his purchase from Spindletop Farm.   His wife Martha, who shared his passion for horses, passed away at age 46 just a few days after Christmas in 1951.  Grey Mac, his main breeding stallion for 13 years and a horse he had shown widely, died on November 7, 1952.  Things slowed down for a time, and he gave away a number of his broodmares to Eli Long in 1953. Among these horses were Korena Juan and Lady Middleton.   Soon however, he acquired a new stallion and it was back to the breeding, training and showing of horses.   In fact, Dr. Elrod always had a stallion or two in residence at OCF.  Over the years, they included Grey Mac,  Dr. McChord, Jean LaFitte,  Gay Kalarama, Mercer’s Copper King, Clear Creek Prince,  Bellaire’s Anacacho King, and Grand View’s Matinee Idol.  

Jean Lafitte was purchased from Spindletop Farms sale in 1948 at age 12.
He was sired by Jean Valentino by Jean Val Jean out of Lillian Monroe by Rex Monroe


Here are pictures of some of Dr.Elrod's horses from the 1950's through the 1960's.  At the end of this time period, Dr. Elrod was in his early 70's, but still showing horses.  He was also still active in his career as a physician.  

Ottawa's Gold Glamour sold as a 2 year  old in 1950 to
area car dealer Cliff Dunn.

Ottawa's Mastermind was sired by Grey Mac
and out of the mare Korena Juan by San Juan

Ottawa's Perfection was registered as Sugah Valley Rose.
Sugah Valley was a breeding farm in operation during the 1940's and 1950's.



Ottawa's Supreme Command winning a 3 gaited class with Dr. Elrod
Jean Lafitte X Whyworry Chieftess by Chief of Longview

This portrait of Ottawa's Supreme Command was painted in 1956.

Ottawa's Sweetheart was a full sister to Ottawa's Mastermind.
Grey Mac X Korena Juan by San Juan. She was purchased in 1953
and is shown here by her new owner Mrs. McConnell. 



Ottawa's Elegant Lady at the Grosse Pointe Michigan show in 1959.
Sired by Grey Mac out of Independence Girl by San Juan,
she was the second to last colt sired by Grey Mac. 



CH Lafitte's Gay Scandal was sired by Jean Lafitte and out of Lady Middleton.  
He's pictured here with his owner Judy Kaufmann and eventually earned CH status.
Lafitte's Gay Scandal was a home-raised, home trained three-gaited gelding.  Dr. Elrod felt the horse had a lot of potential but he despaired of ever getting it out of him so he sent him to Chester Caldwell and Mark Dickey who were in business together at the time.  After working him for some time Mark called Doc and told him that, in their opinion, he just wasn't going to make the big time they had all hoped for, so he was sold for $3000 in 1955.  He ended up in the hands of Art Simmons, who then sold the horse to Judy Kaufman.   Evidently Mr. Simmons was able to turn the key on this horse which showed with great success at the big shows around the country.  One day, Doc opened his mail to find a Hamilton Electric Watch (an expensive and very new thing at the time) from Mark and Chester as a mea culpa in judging Lafitte's Gay Scandal

Lafitte's Sweetheart was a full sister to Lafitte's Gay Scandal.
She's shown here by Dr. Elrod at Bloomfield Hills in Michigan.
Presenting the ribbon is Honey Craven.  This mare sold to
JL Younghusband of Valley View Farm for $10000 in 1959.

Mighty Prince was purchased from Cliff Dunn in 1952 and
resold in 1953 at a profit.



Star So Rare, a grandson of King's Genius is shown by Bill Curran.
He was purchased in 1950 for $235 and resold in 1955 for $3500 to Cliff Dunn. 

Vztop Realization was shown as Ottawa's Realization.
He was sired by Nawbeek's Highland King out of a Gallant Knight mare.

Vztop Realization and Dr. Elrod at Bloomfield Hills MI in 1952.
He sold to Joan Jacobs of Beverly Hills CA in 1953. 


and now the decade of the  1960's
Ottawa's Denmark at Ft. Wayne IN in 1964 with Dr. Elrod.
He was sired by Clear Creek Prince and out of a mare by Jean Lafitte,
2nd dam by Grey Mac and 3rd dam was a horse Dr. Elrod purchased in 1931.
This horse was sold to Dr. Geraldine Meanor in 1969.

Ottawa's Summer Song was sold to Dave Bedell in 1962.
Sired by Mercer's Copper King, she was a half brother to Ottawa's Denmark.
Both were out of Lafitte's Delightful Miss. 
Summer Song was a two time Amateur Five-Gaited Champion of Michigan for Dave Bedell.

Dave purchased several other horses from Dr. Elrod including Ottawa's Fancy Style,
shown as Wheel of Fortune (Grey Mac X Lady Stonewall by Stonewall King)
and The Ohioan which was a 5 time Amateur 3-Gaited Champion of Michigan.
The Ohioan showed as Grandwood Grenadier, but he was unregistered

Ottawa's Fancy Style showed as Wheel of Fortune



Grand View's Matinee Idol in front of the barn.
Golden Thunderbolt X Maid of Orleans by King's Genius

Grand View's Matinee Idol
He was the last stallion to stand at Ottawa Creek Farm.

Ottawa's Liberty Born shown by Dr. Elrod in 1964 at Ft. Wayne.
Sired by Mercer's Copper King, his dam was by Grey Mac and his 2nd dam was Korena Juan.

My Floradora was purchased from Mrs. JR Sharp's dispersal sale in 1965.
The Red Rambler X Ridgefield's Flora BHF by Ace O'Goshen.
She was sold, repurchased and then resold.
Yes, always at a profit.

Society Born was sired by Society Rex.

Stonewall's Genius Sparkle aka Stoney
He is shown here in the late 1960's with Dr. Elrod.

Dr. Elrod aboard an unidentified horse at Ft Wayne Indiana


Coming up next time will be the final installment in the life of this remarkable horseman.

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

9/24/17 Dr. Robert Elrod and Ottawa Creek Farm part 1

Dr. Robert H. Elrod Sr was a lifelong horseman, and his lifetime spanned 100 years.  A breeder, exhibitor, horse trader and judge, this post will look at Dr. Elrod and his horse farm, Ottawa Creek Farm, which began operation in 1929.  The last horse he sold was in 1985, the last horse on the farm died in 2000, three years after he passed away.  Most of you probably haven’t heard of Dr. Elrod, but he was an extraordinary horseman dedicated to his horses.   Part one covers the 1930’s and 1940’s, part two will be the 1950’s and 1960’s and part three will be the remainder of his life. 

Ottawa Creek Farm, Berkey Ohio circa 1935. The original barn has one wing attached.
The second wing was added a few years later.


Dr. Elrod kept a journal book which included all transactions at his farm. After reading his horse journal, which held records from 1929 through his last sale in 1985, it was apparent that Dr. Elrod treated his horse farm as a business, and was keenly aware of profit and loss.  He nearly always operated the year at a profit.  The journal was a fascinating look at the history of his breeding farm.  Luckily, many of the horses were photographed and had show records so the journal follows the progression of the farm. 

Horse Records, from 1929 through 1985.

Dr. Elrod was born in Cookeville Tennessee on December 5th 1896.  His father JC Elrod was a breeder of fine saddle horses, so he grew up around all phases of the horse industry, from breeding, to raising colts, training prospects, showing horses and selling a product.  Dr. Elrod always looked totally comfortable on a horse, as though it was second nature.  It probably was since his first horse show was aboard a five gaited gelding at the age of 6. 
Saddlebreds were his forte, but he was also comfortable on a Plantation horse.



By all accounts, had he chosen to be a professional horse trainer, he would have been a success.  However, a devoted uncle encouraged him to enter the medical field and he graduated from Vanderbilt Medical School in 1922 at the age of 25.  He then came to Toledo, Ohio for his residency and never left.  He found much opportunity in Toledo, and became the corporate physician for the Toledo based firms of Autolite and Surface Combustion.  This was in addition his private practice and being the chief of surgery at The Toledo Hospital. 

Rob Roy was a jumper in the early 30's.

While in Toledo, Dr. Elrod met his future wife Martha.  She was also a horse enthusiast, and after her graduation from the University of Michigan, they married around 1927.  In 1929, they purchased a farm located west of Toledo along the Ten Mile Creek which flowed into the Ottawa River.  The farm included a dairy barn and a residence used for his farm employees.  As time went on, two wings were added to the main barn, which provided a central aisle in which to work horses.  As work was progressing, Dr. Elrod’s horses were kept in Toledo at the Toledo Saddle & Bridle Club located by Ottawa Park which is near Toledo Hospital.  Eventually, with the help of friends and nurses riding his string of horses approximately 12 miles, the horses were moved to the new farm in the early 1930’s and Ottawa Creek Farm was established. 

Martha Elrod and Bob Elrod in 1929

Mrs. Elrod with Bob & Betty in 1931.

Mrs. Elrod in 1934

Dr. Elrod was a great horse trader, and bought horses from George Gwinn, Chester Caldwell and many of his contemporaries.   Sometimes he flipped them fairly quickly, other horses he kept as breeding stock for the rest of their lives.  Here are some of his horses from the 1930's and 1940's.


The 1930's


Betty Elrod and Goldie in the late 1930's

Bob Elrod and friend on High Speed in 1938. 
Captain Strutter was acquired through a trade in 1937.
He was unregistered and sold in 1939 for $600.
Dr. Elrod listed profit and loss in his journal, but
it only included the cost of the purchase and sale.
Feed costs, training costs and labor costs were not 
taken into consideration. 
Doctor Date was a stallion that Dr. Elrod admired.
He was a grandson of Chester Dare.
He owned several of his colts.
Lee Rose McDonald was another stallion that Dr. Elrod favored.
He had several offspring and also stood his son Grey Mac.
Although he never owned him, Dr. Elrod had his official registration papers
along with his picture. He's best known as the sire of Sweetheart on Parade.
Another favorite was San Juan and Dr. Elrod owned many of his get.
He was sired by San Vicente by Rex Peavine
and he was owned for several years by James Marker of Columbus Ohio.
Dr. McChord by McDonald Peavine, was purchased as
a 3 year old in 1932 from WD Mountjoy and the Kentucky Sale Co.
He was the first stallion Dr. Elrod advertised.
Dr. Elrod and friend Bill Curran in 1938 at Muncie, Indiana show.
Bill Curran was a trainer in the Ohio area for many years.  
Ethel's Rose was sired by Peavine's Highland Chief, a top stallion
in the 1930's.  Purchased in 1936, she sold in 1940 then was repurchased in 1946.
She died in 1950 without any production record. 
Hallelujah Girl was listed on Dr. Elrod's horse inventory in 1934.
She foaled in 1931 and was sired by Halleluia Mc.
She sold in 1939 for $250.

Hayden Lee Rose was sired by Lee Rose McDonald
and shown by Dr. Elrod in 5 gaited classes. 
Purchased in 1936 for $350 as a 3 year old prospect,
he sold for $2250 in 1940.
Lee Star, another colt by Lee Rose McDonald is shown here
showing in hand in Lansing Michigan. 
His dam, Mattie Bourbon, was by Bourbon Star and out of
Mattie McB, a full sister to Bourbon Star. 

Meadow Mist was also by Bourbon Star, and her 2nd dam
was Mattie McB.  Dr. Elrod showed her in 5 gaited classes
in 1937 and 1938.  She sold in 1938 for $2000. 

Royal San was sired by San Juan and purchased from
his breeder, James Marker of Blendon Farms in 1938.
Here he is being shown by Martha Elrod.
Royal San and Dr. Elrod at Muncie Indiana in 1939

Nifty Lady and Dr. Elrod.
She was sired by Doctor Dare and purchased in 1932
as a yearling for $125.  She sold as a 4 year old for $1800.

Nifty Lady in 1938, after she had been sold.

Tiger San, yet another colt by San Juan.
This photo shows the retouching done to remove the crowd
from the background.  Tiger San sold in 1941 as a 5 year old at 10 times his original price.
His nickname was Trigger.

Zealous, foaled in 1928 was by My Own Rex Dare.
She was purchased in 1932 as a broodmare for $90.
She died in 1951 at age 23 after producing at least 9 colts
for Dr. Elrod. This color photo was from 1932.


1940's
Ottawa Commander, one of the early horses with the
Ottawa prefix on its name.  He was sired by Grey Mac
and out of one of Dr. Elrod's broodmares by San Juan.

Ottawa's Headliner is shown here by JR Ragsdale,
one of Dr. Elrod's trainers.  This unregistered horse was
sired by Grey Mac and out of a Standardbred mare, very
similar breeding to Sweetheart of Parade.  This horse sold for $9500
to Oscar Smith of Carolanne Farm in Virginia.  Mr. Smith
also owned such greats as WGC's America Beautiful and Moreland Maid.

Ottawa's Mastermind was a full brother to Ottawa Commander.
This bay gelding was foaled in 1944 and was shown by
Dr. Elrod in 5 gaited classes before being sold by Alan Leavitt
in 1953 for $4500. He made the cover of Saddle & Bridle in June 1954.

Ottawa's Queen of Hearts foaled in 1942 and was sired by Bourbon Genius.
She was purchased along with her dam, by American Ace, in 1945.

Dark McDonald and Dr Elrod in 1942.  He was another horse
sired by San Juan.  He was purchased from Hugh White for $750 in 1940
as a 2 year old.  
Dinamac was sired by Grey Mac and out of a mare by Mercer Rex.
She foaled at the farm in 1943 and sold in 1949. 
Genius Mary by King's Genius was purchased as a yearling in 1937.
She sold in 1942 for a nice profit, but was repurchased in 1943. 
She sold again in 1943 as part of a trade, but again at a profit. 

Genius Mary in 1948 after she had been sold.
Grey Mac, shown here at Lexington with JR Ragsdale in 1943.
Dr. Elrod purchased 1/3 interest in Grey Mac in November of 1939.
There was no notation about purchasing the remaining interest, but he
was shown often and advertised heavily.  He remained at Ottawa Creek Farm
as the head stud until his death in 1951 at age 19.  Sired by Lee Rose McDonald
and out of Sibyl Byrns by Rexall Prince, he was a Denmark bred stallion.
JR Ragsdale said he adored this horse.

MacMillion was sired by Grey Mac and out of Millionairess.
He is shown here with Bob Elrod Jr in 1945 when Bob was 16
and MacMillion was 7.  This is the first colt Bob trained. He
sold in 1946, but no price was listed in the journal.

Prom Trotter, a full sister to Lee Star, foaled in 1934.
(Lee Rose McDonald X Mattie Bourbon)
She was purchased as a yearling in 1935 from Mr. Marker for $389.
She sold in 1939 for $2000.

Prom Trotter in 1940, probably with her new owner.

Red Glow was a 3 gaited chestnut gelding by San Juan.
He was acquired in 1943 at age 4 in a trade for Genius Mary.
He sold for $4000 in 1946.
My Golden Princess shown by Mrs. Martha Elrod
as an 8 year old in 1948.  
Whyworry Chieftess in 1943 with her filly by The Genius.
She was purchased from Hugh White, the owner of The Genius, 
who was a full brother to Bourbon Genius, Genius of Stonyridge, and Leatherwood King.
Whyworry Chieftess was sired by Chief of Longview.  She produced
many colts for Dr. Elrod before being traded to Clyde Richardson in 1950.
Her last colt was sired by the palomino stallion Richardson's Pot O'Gold.

Editor's note:
It took 3 years to get through all the photos, articles, albums, and journal that belonged to the Elrod family.  This is a tip of the iceberg, but should give a good look into Dr. Elrod's life and times.  Remember, the first decade his farm operated was during the Great Depression.  Next up will be the 1950's and 1960's.  It starts with Bob Elrod's favorite horse, purchased in the late 40's, but sold in an interesting transaction in 1950.   

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