2014-04-02 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

From 1880 to 1904, Westminster Kennel Club (WKC) had a clubhouse and kennels in Babylon on the west side of Southards Pond. To put Westminster’s presence into historical context, this “Pets” will parallel various global and local events happening during our 24 years of dignified dogdom.

Here is the comparative timeline:


*WKC (led by charter member C.D. Wagstaff who also owned Tallulah kennels in W. Islip) leased 64 acres in Babylon west of Southards Pond for two years at $300 a year with option to buy at the end of lease for $5,500. Property already has old buildings including an 18th C. farmhouse which becomes WKC clubhouse while old barns were converted into temporary kennels.

*Building of the Panama Canal begins.

*Edison patents the electric incandescent lamp.


*Sankey, a Spaniel, saves Wasp, a Skye Terrier, from drowning in Southards Pond.

Louis Pasteur helped produce the first antirabies vaccine in 1885. Louis Pasteur helped produce the first antirabies vaccine in 1885. *Sankey gets life-saving medal. Both dogs had been entered in the first WKC dog show of 1877.

*Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth opens in Madison Square Garden (same venue as the WKC Dog Show).

*American Red Cross founded by Clara Barton.


*WKC purchased Babylon property for $5,500.

* First World Series game, Cincinnati (AA) beats Chicago (NL) 4-0.

*Outlaw Jesse James is killed by Robert Ford.


*Brooklyn Bridge opens to traffic on May 24. One week later, rumor that it is going to collapse causes a stampede that kills 12.


*WKC moved old farmhouse, to be used by superintendent (to NW corner of property, NE side of Livingston Ave.); erected new Victorian clubhouse (cost $8,000) designed by Wagstaff on former site of farmhouse near Southards Pond. Some unknown year later farmhouse moved again to the other side of street- where it still stands at 358 Livingston.

*Dow Jones publishes its first stock average.

*Headwaiter at Argyle Hotel in Babylon organizes “Cuban Giants”- the first black baseball team.


*James Mortimer became resident superintendent of Babylon WKC and kennels (until 1892 when WKC moved all the dogs except for stud dogs). He lived in the old farmhouse.

*He also was WKC Show superintendent at Madison Square Garden through 1915 (year of his death).

*Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn published.

*Louis Pasteur successfully tests an anti-rabies vaccine and saves the life of a young boy. (Our early “South Side Signal” newspaper contains accounts of rabid animals’ close encounters with Babylon residents.)

*Sagamore Hill completed.


*Sensation (WKC logo Pointer) retired; given to WKC former show chairman Robert C. Cornell.

*Karl Benz patents first gasoline-powered automobile.

*Pedestal of the Statue of Liberty completed.


*In June, Sensation died at Babylon WKC; buried at foot of flagpole in front of clubhouse.

*Flagstaff had a weather vane with a Pointer figure on top. In fall, new Babylon kennels built- housed between 100 to 200 dogs at various times.

*Anne Sullivan teaches “water” to Helen Keller.

*Edison patents kinetoscope (producing moving pictures). None have surfaced of Babylon WKC.


*First Army/Navy football game. Navy wins 24-0.

*Ellis Island opens as immigration station.


*Long Island poet Walt Whitman dies in Camden, NJ.

*First public appearance of John Philip Sousa’s band (NJ).


*LIRR features WKC clubhouse in Babylon in railroad guide book.

For Babylon WKC pigeon shoots, LIRR had a special train that left LI City by 10 a.m. and had guests back in NYC by 5:30 p.m. Also winning Babylon WKC Pointers- King of Kent and Sir Walter-ride home on LIRR after victories at Madison Square Garden.

*Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake premieres in St. Petersburg.

*Alfred Nobel establishes Nobel Prize.


*First Boston Marathon.

*Bram Stoker publishes Dracula.


*William Entenmann opens bakery in

Brooklyn. Doesn’t move to Bay Shore until

1905, one year after WKC has left Long Island.

*Will Kellogg invents cornflakes.


*Vice President Theodore Roosevelt becomes president of the US after the assassination of President McKinley. *Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid rob train of $40,000 in Montana. 1902-

*WKC clubhouse Superintendent George Mott and Thomas Wood of N. Babylon lease 404 more acres of land on their own in N. Babylon to use for field trials with their Pointers.

*Brooklyn toy maker names stuffed bear after Teddy Roosevelt.

*Marconi leases cottage as wireless radio shack on Fire Island Avenue in Babylon to send messages to ships at sea.


*Pigeon shooting and duck hunting become illegal in NYS, so in April, WKC clubhouse sold to James L. Ewell as homestead, orchard and stable for Shetland ponies. WKC moves clubhouse to Tenafly, NJ briefly until pigeon shoots become illegal in NJ too.

*Teddy Roosevelt is re-elected president.

*Argyle Hotel in Babylon is demolished.

*William K. Vanderbilt organizes America’s first international road race, the Vanderbilt Cup, right here on Long Island.

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: According to his microchip, the sweet Papillon “Shelby” 14-170 recently turned 11. “Chester” 4-61 is one of five beloved cats that belonged to a senior citizen who was forced to move to assisted living out of state after suffering a stroke. “Clyde” is a senior Tabby, a yogurt lover and a lover boy!

Return to top