Monday, March 9, 2009

Mad Dawgs and Itawambians**

Once upon a time, mad dogs roamed Itawamba County. A rabid fox or coon was often the source of the disease in dogs who would get bit or attacked during a hunt or chase. Everyone has seen the movie "Old Yeller" and remembers the classic rabies symptom - foaming of the mouth and aggressive behavior. Such signs struck fear in our Itawamba ancestors. Today, most dogs are vaccinated for the rabies virus and thus the horrific disease is pretty much a thing of the past. At one time however, "madawgs" were a common occurrence in the rural South. Ask some of your older ancestors if they have any mad dog stories. I bet they do.

In his book "This Old House," Randall Owens tells about an experience he had with a mad dog while growing up in Itawamba County in the early part of the twentieth century. On the day the mad dog showed up at his house, Randall was doing some chores at the barn when his father sent him back to the house for some water. He took his time getting back to the house, and as he stepped onto the porch, Randall noticed all the doors were fastened shut. Suddenly, his mother opened a door, grabbed Randall and pulled him into the house. He had just missed the mad dog by seconds, his delay in getting to the house probably saving his life. Randall says in his book that boiled water was used to scald and scour the area contaminated by a mad dog's saliva and that bare feet weren't allowed to touch the area where the mad dog had been until a thorough cleaning took place.

Royce Robinson remembers a "madawg" (say it real fast) story from his childhood. The dog belonged to his cousin Hite Dulaney who had put the dog up because it had been acting strangely. Hite's brother, Quit Dulaney, later went out to feed the dog, and thinking that the dog appeared okay, he turned it loose.

According to Royce, the mad dog came to his house and attacked his sister, Ruthal, tearing her dress. His uncle Will Robinson tried to shoot the mad dog, but his gun misfired. "The dog got my brother Cutaw down and bit him about thirteen times, once in the face. My Mommy, Vonnie, beat the dawg off of him with her shoe. The dog then went to Voy Works' house where it bit Voy's son, Teldon. I don't know whatever happened to the dog." Royce also said that he remembered that Teldon died from rabies, and that may be true because Teldon's tombstone indicates that he died when he was fourteen years old in 1938.

Royce, the son of James Edward "Ed" Robinson* and Vonnie D. Dulaney, shared his story recently during a visit with Don Dulaney. Not only did Royce's father Ed marry a Dulaney, but Ed's mother Effie was a Dulaney. She was descended from Alfred Dulaney while Ed's wife Vonnie was descended from John Dulaney. Also, Ed's brother Henry married a Dulaney - Maudie, Vonnie's sister. Whew! Alfred, John and Gilbert Dulaney were among the first white men in Itawamba County, and all of the local Dulaneys today can trace their heritage back to one of these brothers. The percentage of Itawambians who are connected to one of these Dulaney men is quite high, particularly in the east side of the county.

Bennie Hite Dulaney and William Quit Dulaney were second cousins to Royce and sons of Alfred Thomas Dulaney, Effie's brother.

Voy Works was actually Cecil Voyed Works who was married to Mary Girtrue Dulaney, daughter of Richard Nathaniel and Martha "Mattie" Moxley Dulaney. Another daughter of Richard and Mattie, Leliar, was married to Will S. Robinson, i.e. Uncle Will in the above story. Girtruee and Leliar were Royce's second cousins.

*Note: This set of Robinsons is apparently unrelated to my family of Robinsons, their being descended from Samuel Robinson out of Franklin County, Alabama whose father Jesse was born in Virginia.

**With apologies to Joe Cocker.

Back row: Voy Works, Girtrue Dulaney Works, Glenda Works, Loyd Robinson, Leliar and Will Robinson
Front row: Lauree, Cecil and R.A. Works; Rudolph Robinson
Girtrue and Leliar were Dulaney sisters.


Don Dulaney said...

Mona, great post. Amazing how different things were in those days.

Janice Tracy said...

A great story, Mona...and yes, I heard maddawg stories from my grandparents when I was growing up!

Lindsay B said...

Just peeking in to say hi! I have enjoyed your blog. :-)

Arvel said...

Hey Lindsay .... great to hear from you .... Arvil

Mona Robinson Mills said...

Lindsay, thanks for stopping by! Come visit any time. Mona