CLAIREDALE KENNEL TIMELINE
Thank you from the bottom of my heart Ken for allowing me to display some of your very important Clairedale research at ChowTales
1889: Oct. 23, Claire Antoinette Knapp is born to Sylvia T. & Joseph P. Knapp
1894: Joseph Palmer Knapp joins Westminster Kennel Club and attends many of the gun/bird dog meets held at the Babylon LI clubhouse. He remains a lifelong member.
1900’s: Claire’s mother Sylvia T. Knapp starts entering Boston Terriers at the Westminster Dog Show in NYC & a Joseph P. Knapp silver cup is offered as a prize.
1910: Claire Knapp is living mainly in Bellport, LI, and breeding & attending dog shows. She is also heavily involved with show horses at this time.
1911 – 12: Claire starts to concentrate on Chows and moves to Greenlawn, LI. She keeps her riding stable there.
1916 – 1925: Claire’s brother Joseph F. Knapp buys the 200 acre Lawrence estate in Mastic, LI (now known as Mastic Beach)Claire moves there and in the name “Clairedale” appears in print.
1925 – 1928: Claire marries Willis Oliver Penney and moves Clairedale to Yaphank. She starts a family and is rapidly becoming known as an expert on the Chow breed two daughters ) & Kennel move to Stony Brook, LI. They also have a Winter home on Johns Island, S.C.
1929 – 1933: The Penney Family (by now there are two daughters ) & Kennel move to Stony Brook, LI. They also have a Winter home on Johns Island, S.C.
1933: After her entire Chow Kennel is destroyed in South Carolina due to heartworms, Claire returns to Long Island. She purchases the property at Red Cedar Point on the Peconic Bay in Hampton Bays. There she starts from scratch with a new breed Sealyham Terriers.
REGARDING THE CHOW KENNEL AND HEARTWORM – SOURCE: ” I spent some time in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1970’s and 1990’s and can vouch for what beautiful area it is. Clairedale was located on a plantation there at St. John’s Island and I’m sure it was a real paradise. Claire’s daughter Margaret certainly recalled it that way too in Kerrin Winston Churchill’s article for Dogs In Review, June 2003, ” Living there in that country with those Chows in that gorgeous country what more could a child ask for? I was in heaven.”
But unfortunately, because of the water and swampy area, mosquitos carrying Heartworm attacked Claire’s dogs. Although this could of easily happened back on Long Island too. I know from the experience of dealing with this awful disease there that nearly killed my Irish Setters in the 1970’s how hard the cure can be ….but it was much worse for Claire in the 1930’s because there was no cure.
Margaret: “Oh, my poor Mother. She lost her entire kennel of Chows except for Son Too and his son Little Pal, Heartworm wiped them out. In those days there was no prevention and you couldn’t tell the dogs were affected until the disease was in its advanced stages. You can’t imagine the horror my Mother went through.”
With her breeding stock gone Claire also was faced with another big decision. The future direction of Clairedale. Of course, she seriously considered rebuilding her Chow line but after looking long and hard at available bloodstock she was very disappointed in what she saw happening in the breed. She felt the correct type was quickly disappearing to fads that focused on exaggerated individual characteristics. This is where her strong Knapp genes of both her father and grandfather kicked in and served her well. She wrote: “Probably I am a hard-headed breeder and fancier, but I do prefer very little variation in type in all breeds. and feel that many different ones harm all of us.” Although she vowed to ” always know and love the Chow ” she turned her focus to a breed she referred to as “Little varmints and rouges”
1934-40 ARE THE GLORY YEARS FOR CLAIREDALE KENNELS. HER SEALYHAM TERRIERS BRING MUCH FAME TO CLAIREDALE WITH THE BIG WIN OF BEST IN SHOW AT THE 1936 WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB SHOW
1940’s: The Penneys divorce and Claire marries Thomas Dixon. Claire starts to expand her breeds most notably with Highland Terriers. Her eldest daughter Margaret who has obviously inherited Claire’s flair with dogs starts her own kennel at Hampton Bays. Pennyworth Kennels will also go into the record books and great success.
Clairedale continues winning with several different breeds. Claire’s marriage to Mr. Dixon, whom she had known since the very early 1900’s, does not fare as well and they separate.
1950’s: Both Clairedale & Pennyworth continue with success in the show arena. By mid-’50’s Claire’s health starts to decline. Some shows are entered with jointly Mother/Daughter owned dogs. After a long illness, Mrs. Claire Knapp Dixon dies October 25, 1959.1960: Clairedale Property at Red Cedar Point, Hampton Bays is put up for sale
1964: Claire’s daughter Margaret Penney Newcombe wins Best In Show at Westminster. They are the only mother & daughter to have done that in the 128-year history of the show. Pennyworth carries the Clairedale flame with a long and distinguished breeding career.
CLICK HERE – Remembering Claire’s daughter, Margaret (Peggy) Newcombe of Pennyworth Kennels. Grand Dame of the whippet world who passed January 2007 at 80 years of age. This is a wonderful website highlighting her years in her mother’s Chow kennels and beyond
Below find the outstanding article in the 1926 AKC Gazette about the Clairedale Kennels in Yaphank Long Island