Friday Night Family Heirlooms… telling their stories: Granddaddy McKinley’s Fox Horn

When “heirlooms” aren’t identified, and their stories never told, then they often become items that are tossed or sold – as they have no history, no ties to the family. So take the time to identify your family heirlooms history and memories so your treasures aren’t tossed in the trash. They are just as valuable as your family photographs and also need to be documented. Sometimes it’s not even the value of the item in question; it’s the story which holds the value.

Granddaddy McKinley’s Fox Horn


Granddaddy’s Fox Hunting Horn

I think my grandfather loved fox hunting more than life itself – the Friday night fox hunting with his Walker hunting dogs was what he lived for!

I remember my mother telling me years ago that this fox horn was given to him by the men he hunted with – but why no one seems to know. It’s not a horn you just pucker up and blow, you really have to learn exactly how to purse your lips to make it blow and it’s a deep sound, carrying a far distance once you get it going.

Sometimes he took the horn with him on Friday nights, but many times he’d just call the dogs – they knew his voice.

After my grandfather gave up fox hunting, she took the horn home. And what did she use it for – to call me home at night; that’s when kids played outside! The neighborhood kids quickly learned that sound and when they heard it, they knew who was being called home  – often they’d say, “Jeanne your mother is calling you.”

On the farm, Granddaddy kept it hanging on the gun rack – it had its prominent spot along with his prized hunting rifle. Mama doesn’t remember ever hearing that he actually shot any foxes – so what did he do on fox hunting nights? I remember that it was always on a Friday night when he headed out, and that was the night we usually arrived at the farm for the weekend. I would sit patiently by the window waiting to see granddaddy’s headlights on the old Ford pickup –  I’d run through the house announcing he was coming.

On Saturday afternoons, it was the filling station in town were where all the men gathered to discuss, loudly sometimes, their Friday night fox hunts – and when they weren’t talking hunting, well politics could quickly fill in the gaps. If you dared to venture over, you always heard loud talking – as they each tried to out-talk the other, and then it escalated to who could talk the loudest, would be the one who was heard. Mama never liked to let me near the filling station where the men hung out, but it was always a fun place to sneak over and listen.

Mama’s memories: “I remember Daddy brought home a baby fox one time – I guess he found it or either the dogs killed its mother. We raised it and later it even played with his fox dogs and was very friendly.”

 “We used to have wild boar on the farm back in the marsh back-forty behind the barns. Daddy used to get really mad when his hunting dogs got off the fox trail and onto the scent of the boar, as those boar were pretty dangerous and could kill your dogs if they were cornered.”

“When daddy went fox hunting on Friday nights he usually had to leave mama by herself, but he’d come back after a couple of hours and check on her, then go back to check on his dogs. He had a rifle that he fixed to repeat, and always told her – if someone broke in to grab it and just keep pulling the trigger, eventually you’ll hit something.” 

Hope you enjoyed my Fox Tales….

Click Friday Night Family Heirlooms to  read more stories…

© 2016 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

Family Heirloom Bloggers:

I started a Family Heirloom challenge in November 2015 asking fellow bloggers to join me in telling the stories of their family heirlooms. Writing the stories of the family heirlooms I’ve been entrusted with, has been on my mind for a long time; the time is now and I plan to write their stories on a weekly basis.

Please check out the weekly Family Heirloom stories of…

Blogger: Cathy Meder-Dempsey at Opening Doors in Brick Walls
Blogger: Karen Biesfeld at Vorfahrensucher
Blogger: Kendra Schmidt at trekthrutime
Blogger: Linda Stufflebean at Empty Branches on the Family Tree
Blogger:  Schalene Jennings Dagutis at Tangled Roots and Trees
Blogger: True Lewis at Notes to Myself
Blogger: Vera Marie Badertscher at Ancestors in Aprons                              Blogger: Heather Lisa Dubnick at  Little Oak Blog
Blogger: Kathy Rice at
Blogger: Mary Harrell-Sesniak at  Genealogy Bank Heirlooms Blog
Blogger: Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme for 2015 Week 24 was Heirlooms. Check out her Blog at –  52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 24 Recap  for links to more Heirloom posts.

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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6 Responses to Friday Night Family Heirlooms… telling their stories: Granddaddy McKinley’s Fox Horn

  1. True! says:

    That was a beautiful crafted fox horn. I can only imagine. I would of been scared of all that “fox-hunting” talk. You were a daredevil to go up and sneak and listen in at that Gas station. I know about when the street light comes on. It’s time to get in the HOUSE! Great Piece. Love the anecdote’s at the end…Those were sweet. Thanks for sharing these heirloom pieces.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lyn Smith says:

    Love your story, especially the little fox that became friends with the hunting dogs. I’ll bet that was a hoot.
    Then Helen brings it home to become a Jeanne horn. That’s priceless.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Margaret says:

    Great story! Enjoyed as it reminded me of my daddy’s coon hunting nights.


    • Margaret, I so wanted to go out with him, but it was a definite NO…. i climbed in the back of his old hunting truck one day… he promptly pulled me right out. But it was fun to be back there with the dogs. LOL


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