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By John Oliver, President, Historical Society

We continue this month to look at local men and women who have made a difference in the world about them by their strength of character and winning personalities.

A gentleman I have looked forward to writing about is the late Dr. Fred Vaught, who was for many years a druggist in Hartsville and had a hobby that made both state, national and international news!

When I first moved to Hartsville in 1969 as a young teacher, many of us would gather after work and drop into the local drugstores for a Cherry Coke or orangeade. The first time I met the group at the old Vaught’s Drug Store, I couldn’t help but notice a display of trophies that ran around the top shelves of the business from one end of the building to the other.

They were trophies for Fred’s prize-winning foxhounds!

Submitted photo
Fred Vaught shows off one of his prize-winning foxhounds in the yard of his home on White Oak Street. Notice the array of trophies! The site of his home is now where our public library sits and the library is named in his honor.

It seems that the friendly druggist had a knack for raising foxhounds that were a cut above his competition.

Fred Vaught had passed away in 1967 of cancer, at the too young age of 61, but his wife Patsy continued to show dogs herself for several more years and was always proud to show off the handsome array of trophies.

Fred’s son, Andy, told me that he had accompanied his father to one of his first competitions and showed a very good hound. After the show, a man tried to buy the dog, but Fred declined. The man was dismissive of Fred and walked off saying that the hound “…probably wasn’t AKC anyway.”

AKC meant registered with the American Kennel Club.

Fred looked at Andy and said, “What’s he talking about?”

Fred was strictly an amateur at that stage of the game and didn’t know what the American Kennel Club was – but that would change!

We quote from J.C. McMurtry’s book on Trousdale County, “Dr. Fred A. Vaught… owned and bred two national field trial champions, three national bench show champions, one international bench show champion and collected many ‘best in show’ awards throughout fifteen states.”

Fred Vaught was still breeding and showing his hounds right up to his death and his dogs continued, under Patsy’s watchful eye, to win. McMurtry continued his description, “He also showed the Champion American Club winner and at the time of his death, owned Champion ‘Vaught’s John Paul,’ a dog which was to become the most prolific winner in the annals of foxhound history. ‘Vaught’s John Paul’ after becoming the national champion foxhound, went on to become the top winning hound in the nation, the top hound group winner for the year 1969, recipient of the Kennel Review Award and Ken-L Ration Award, and the all-time winner in the breed.”

Andy told me that his father often named his hounds for Broadway plays and in researching this article I found reference to Fred’s “Auntie Mame” and “Mr. Music Man.” Others took such names as, “Stormy Buzzard,” “Peggy Spangler” and “Rolling Storm.”

One article I found on Fred reported that he had brought his kennel to a show but was missing two of his hounds, explaining, “…he was minus two hounds that he planned to enter because they started chasing some deer along the Cumberland River last week and as far as he knows they are still running!”

In addition to enjoying his share of wins, Fred took on the added job as president of the Middle Tennessee Fox Hunters Association. He served in that capacity for several years. He also served as a judge at Association events where he himself didn’t have an entry.

While I have heard many people talk about how well they liked Fred Vaught as a druggist, I found that his fellow dog breeders were no less enthusiastic in their accolades.

A letter published in a foxhound magazine by fellow breeder Roger Stone right after Fred Vaught’s death summed up his noble character, “Fred Vaught had one trait I will never forget and one I admired so much. If he could win, he was happy with his win or if he placed anywhere he was happy with that position. If he was completely out of the winning, he still seemed to be happy. In the many years I have known him, I’ve never heard him say one word against any judge – win or lose. I must say he was a true sportsman and the best loser I have ever known.”

Fred was originally from Watertown and moved here after marrying his wife, who was from Hartsville. After his death, Patsy Vaught kept running the drug store and it stood like a landmark in downtown Hartsville for many years.