Saturday, September 22, 2012

Historical Hounds-The Story of Old Drum

A Man's Best Friend is His Dog

Every dog lover knows the saying but not everyone knows about the legal battle that surrounds it.  September 23rd marks the 142 anniversary of  the Old Drum Court Case.  Old Drum was a beloved foxhound owned by Charles Burden who was shot to death by a neighboring sheep farmer, Leonidas Hornsby, who was also Burden's brother in law.   Burden was furious over his dog's death and immediately sued Burden.   The case dragged through the Missouri courts with the men on both sides appealing decisions until it finally reached the State Supreme Court.

In the Supreme Court Trial Burden was represented by George Graham Vest, a lawyer and politician who had served on the Confederate Senate during the civil war and supported the secession of Missouri from the Union.   Vest was a gifted orator and his closing arguments in the trial, known as "Eulogy on The Dog" won the case for Burden and have gone down as one of the most memorable speeches in US courtroom History:

Gentlemen of the jury: The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it the most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.
Gentlemen of the jury: A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.
If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.

A statue of Old Drum inscribed with Vest's speech was erected in 1958 and stands outside the court house in Warrensburg, Missouri 

Another monument was built in 1947 in Blue Springs, Missouri in the location that Drum's body was found after being shot.

Both monuments are frequently mentioned in guides to America's road side attractions.


  1. Hey Urban Hounds, Jet here. Hi Miss Kate.

    What a noble story, thank you for sharing.

    The closing argument is profound and true, Old Drum certainly deserves a lasting memorial.

  2. Brilliant story , we enjoyed reading that. Have a great Saturday.
    Best wishes Molly

  3. Wow, what a fabulous story! I hadn't heard that before and I love that wonder the case was won. Those memorials are beautiful. Thanks so much for the interesting reading and food for thought this morning!
    Grr and Woof,
    Sarge, COP

  4. Hi Y'all!

    Great story. Love those side road memorials.

    Just wanted to hop on by and see how y'all are doin'. Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  5. We had no heard of this before!! I like the monuments, very cool!

  6. Thanks for the info! Have a great weekend!

  7. Very memorable speeches... And so true! Our fur babies are unselfish friends in this selfish world!

  8. Very interesting info!! We had not heard of this before either!! xoxo Chloe and LadyBug