Author Archives: rosefortierncdcr

North Carolina’s Very Own Dog: The Plott Hound

Plott Hounds

Big Tom Wilson Bear Camp, Pensacola, NC, (Yancey County) December 1945, photo taken by Springfield. From the North Carolina Conservation and Development Department, Travel and Tourism Division photo files, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

No other dog fits the description of North Carolina’s very own dog better than the Plott Hound. One of only four officially recognized dog breeds to have originated in the United States, it is the only one to have been developed in this state. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1998, but the Plott Hound (or just plain Plott) was adopted as the state dog in 1989.

The breed is unique in a number of ways, from its ancestry to its history. Unlike the rest of the coonhound breeds, the Plott is descended from German “Hanover hounds,” rather than the more typical English Foxhounds. The breeds’ ancestors were brought to North Carolina in 1750 when Johannes Plott immigrated to the US. He and his family moved around in the state, finally settling in the mountains. Everywhere they went, so too did Johannes’ dogs. The dogs were used to protect shooting preserves and livestock from bears, boars, and wolves. Therefore, the dogs had to be fearless and smart.

After Johannes’ death, his son John continued to develop the breed through selective breeding practices and by the mid- to late 1800s, people were traveling to Haywood County to procure these dogs from the Plott family.

The breed is prized for its temperament and performance, chief among them its tenacity. The dogs were bred especially for stamina, something still noted in the AKC’s breed standard. This tenacity made the dogs especially valuable to big game hunters. The dogs are noted scent hounds and have been known to track quarry for days when necessary.

Plott Hound at Rest

Bear Hunt-near Robbinsville, NC, 1940. From Conservation and Development Department, Travel and Tourism Division Photo Files, North Carolina State Archives.

The breed’s physical standards describe medium-sized a dog at 20-25 inches tall, that weighs 40-60 pounds. It has a long tail, and wide, medium-sized ears. Its legs are strong and muscular for speed and agility, assets for hunting. It may have white, black, or even red nails. The coat is short and smooth, in black, brown, or any shade of brindle.

Owners and breeders of Plotts are passionate about their dogs, and as with any passion, there will be disagreements. Since the dog was first recognized as a distinct breed by the United Kennel Club in 1946, there have been arguments over what constitutes a “true” Plott. Arguments center around coat color and how much outbreeding is permissible before a dog is no longer considered a Plott.

The State Archives has many photos of Plott Hounds.

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Digital Services Section New Staff Introduction Series

Since the start of 2017, several new staff members have joined the Digital Services Section. All of us will be making regular blog posts on History For All the People, so we thought it would be nice for each of us to introduce ourselves, describe our roles in DSS, and preview the projects we’re working on.

Introducing Rose Fortier: Metadata Archivist in the Digital Services Section

I’m starting my fourth week with the State Archives of North Carolina. It’s an interesting time in this latest chapter of my work history. Things are starting to come together, and I feel like I’m getting to the point where I can contribute to the team here, instead of spending all my time asking questions.

One of the reasons I was excited to start working here was that I knew I’d get to handle all sorts of fascinating historical documents in the course of digitizing them and making them available for access online. The course of my career in libraries and archives is approaching thirteen years (which is a little scary when I sit down and think about it), and I’ve spent much of that time working with digital collections.

I started out as a baby librarian doing work for the Milwaukee Public Library. Yes, that’s Milwaukee, Wisconsin, home of beer, brats, and cheese. I’m not from there originally, but that’s where I had my first job fresh out of library school. I was assigned to work in the Humanities Department, a subject unit at the Central Library that worked mainly with local history and genealogy materials. After not too long, I found myself in charge of the Historic Photo Archives there, which led to my first forays in digitization. Eventually, I would become the Digital Projects Librarian, and our digital collections really started to take shape. One of the things I really loved about my work at MPL was how much I learned about the history of the city. Before too long, I had in-depth knowledge of Milwaukee that rivaled that of most life-long inhabitants.

From there, I went to work at Marquette University, also in Milwaukee. In fact, I moved about six blocks west down Wisconsin Avenue. My job there was similar to what I’d been doing for MPL, except the focus was different. Instead of making Milwaukee’s historical materials available, I was working on making the research output of Marquette’s faculty and students more easily accessible. I learned new techniques, got to work with different formats and equipment. It was interesting and important work, and I learned a lot, but I missed the parts where I got to learn about the history of the city.

This is why I’m so happy to be working here. Once again, I find myself somewhere where I’m a stranger. As a Canadian by birth, this is as far south as I’ve ever lived. So not only am I learning a lot about North Carolina, but I’m also learning about the South. The stories I’m running across as I work with documents from the General Assembly during the Revolutionary War are deeply fascinating, and I’ll be sure to share some of the tidbits I find. I’m also working with an unprocessed collection of documents relating to the Future Homemakers of America, and I’m rapidly learning more about that organization (established in 1945, segregated until 1965, details to come). I’m eager to learn even more about the state I now call home, and to see how I can use that knowledge to make its treasures available to the public.