The Pit Bull in America – Part 2

A series of articles presenting information, documents and stories about the development of the breed and its relation with the Old Family dogs.

The Pit Bull in America – Part 2.

In “The Pit Bull in America — Part 1″ we have learn a little about some of the breeders who were the basis for the foundation of the breed and informations on one of the possible origins of the Old Family strain in the United States through the legendary breeder John P. Colby.
In this article I will talk about another breeder who “never” or rarely was mentioned in history and should be remembered in the same way and importance as other great breeders of the time as John P. Colby himself.

Mr. and Mrs. Colby with their four young children — (1914)

During my research to find out where the Old Family genes had manifested the most in Colby’s bloodline I found an unusual pattern. Whenever I found a Colby dog red or red brindle, a breeder appeared in these pedigrees, his name is Henry Colligan.

Through the information collected so far, it was possible to estimate a date in which Henry Colligan had his dogs, through the first record available on the online pedigree database and a rare photo with J.P. Colby.

The first dog of this breeder registered in the “APBT Online” database was a bitch called Colligan’s “Queen”, born approximately between the years of 1870 and 1880; One of her puppies a bitch named Mc Intyre’s “Jessie” breed with the legendary Double GR CH Galvin’s “Pup”, giving birth to a bitch named Donahue’s “Sal” (Dowd’s Old Sal) that again was breed with Galvin’s “Pup” (inbreed) and gave birth to Colby’s “Jennie” 1xW, born in 1890 and breed with the famous CH Colby’s “Paddy” 3xW, giving birth to Colby’s “Tige” 2xW.

For several years Henry Colligan bred his dogs along with John P. Colby which led me to believe that they could have some kind of partnership or maybe H. Colligan was J.P. Colby mentor.
Here is some pedigrees of Colligan’s dogs, a special mention to Colligan’s “Queen” an important individual for the foundation of Colby’s dogs:

Colligan’s Queen
Colligan’s Mizery (Colby’s)
Colligan’s White Head Bitch
Colligan’s Marshall Bitch
Colligan’s Young Bitch
Colligan’s Rose
Colligan’s Ranger

Colligan’s “White Head bitch” is mentioned in the book “The American Pit Bull Terrier (History of Fighting Dogs Series)” by Joseph L. Colby.

Pincher was the grand-sire of Harry Clark’s Kager, winner over some of the best dogs in the country; Bruce’s Battle an outstanding proven game dog; Colby’s Dixie, alias Curry’s Man-o-War, winner over Sprague’s Hot Rock and fought three hours, fifty minutes to a draw against Armitage’s Bob; also Curry’s King, winner over the great dog, Captain, in 4 hours 12 minutes; Colby’s Jerry, Colby’s Nancy, Colligan’s White Head bitch; Hillery’s Sal, and many more proven game pit dogs.

Some of the dogs mentioned in the book “The American Pit Bull Terrier (History of Fighting Dogs Series)” by Joseph L. Colby

Im still trying to find how Colligan’s “Queen” (the first register avaiable from Colligan’s bloodline) was breed, she could have shared the same Irish Old Family blood as “Galtie” or other Old Family blood unknown at the time; Colligan’s “Marshall Bitch” was breed with Colby’s “Galtie”, giving birth to Colby’s “Demo” a red (black nose) dog with heavy Old Family blood from “Galtie” and possible from “Marshall Bitch”. “Demo” is mentioned in the book “Colby’s Book” by Louis B. Colby and Diane Jessup

J.P. Colby’s Demo (UKC 189–038) a red male sired by Colby’s Galtie and out of Colligan’s Marshall Bitch. Demo was kept in Newburyport by John O’Donnell who ran a restaurant there on Inn Street.
While bred from some of the most renowned fighting dogs in history. Demo would not bother a dog unless attacked, and ran the streets of Newburyport at will. He was a friend of a great many people around the town, especially the school children at the school yard where he visited. Demo was the sire of Colby’s Brandy, a solid brindle dog with a temperament just the opposite: Brandy liked grab anything that had fur and four legs, including a bitch in heat. Dog agressiveness has no correlation to bred-in gameness.

Also Lightner’s “Topsy” a red (red nose) dog owned by Bill Lightner but a Colby bred dog who had a tight blood from Colby’s “Tige” 2xW who had a high percentage of Colligan’s genes.

This dog was hand picked by J. P. Colby for Bill Lightner to be bred to his Masterson Jack dog. Colby’s Tige was the sire and maternal grand sire of Topsy.

From left to right, T. Byron, J. P. Colby, P. Reardon and H. Colligan in the year 1920.

In this rare photo, we can see that H. Colligan is visible older than J. P. Colby. Could he be the mentor behind the incredible work done by Colby’s family over the years?
It’s said that Henry Colligan was a close friend of J.P. Colby for over 40 years and that he was known as one of the best pitdog men in the Boston area.

Henry Colligan and Mike Colby — Circa (1940)

I hope you have enjoyed this journey through the history of the foundation of the breed, my goal with this article is to promote the study and research of the American Pitbull Terrier, feel free to contact me, we can both learn and discover new pieces of history together.

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*All images and information used on this article are from my research through the archives of APBT.Online-PedigreesPedigree.gamedogs and the magazine collection “The Dog Fancier” from the library of the University of Michigan. Digitized by Google.

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