The founding of THE LIPPITT CLUB, while very humble in origin, was a pivotal point in the salvation of the purely bred Morgan,
The pure bred Morgan has survived several perilous periods in it’s history. One of the most significant was the final sale of R.L. Knight’s Lippitt herd from The Stock Farm in the fall of 1962. During the time of Mr. Knight’s breeding efforts there were a few smaller farms also “hewing the line” but they were not as well known. Because of his wealth Mr. Knight had a higher profile thus his breeding program was better known. People from all over the country attended the sale and prime breeding stock was scattered far and wide. Many went to prominent Morgan farms to infuse type into their programs and were never bred pure again.
In 1966 Marshall Winkler, a breeder of old type Morgans and a plant geneticist, became so concerned that the purebred stock might be lost that he collaborated with Robert Morgan who by then owned The Stock Farm and Noel (Pete) Dury of Fremont, New Hampshire to start what they called The Lippitt Breeders List, taking out ads in the Morgan Horse Magazine trying to generate interest in preserving the old bloodlines. Marshall wrote an article that year entitled ”A New Look At An Old Family” and in 1967 ”More On Breeding Theory” in which he called on breeders to organize to save the old bloodlines before they were lost . However, in 1968 the work of starting a new business became overwhelming and Robert Morgan moved to California so the movement stalled for a time.
It took a young woman named Pat McClary to really get the ball rolling. Pat was from Massachusetts but was able to spend summers in Vermont where she met some pretty special horses of the old pure bloodlines and their owners, Bob and Joyce Searles, Mrs. Harriet Hilts, Miss Mary Turgeon and Harrison Miles. In October 1970 she and Harrison visited the afore mentioned folks along with Mr. and Mrs. Herb Smith, Dana Kelly, Nancy Plimpton and Lester Welch They suggested that an exhibition of their horses be put on to promote the old style Morgan. A planning meeting was scheduled for February 20 with invitations going out to other like minded breeders. Unfortunately, the meeting was postponed due to bad weather. Only Warren Patriquin, photographer and Lippitt owner from Massachusetts, was able to brave the storm to share some ideas with Harrison and Pat.
On March 13,1970 the meeting was finally held. Those attending were, Pete Drury of Fremont NH, Dana Kelly of Woodstock VT, Harrison Miles of Cornish NH, Nancy Plimpton of South Randolph VT, Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Nelson of Randolph VT, Joyce Searles of Westminster, VT, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Smith of White River Junction, VT, Lester Welch of Randolph VT, Joyce and Paul Wood of Quechee VT, Lyle Horton of Hartland VT, Margaret Rice of Meredith NH, and Marshall Winkler of Rockport MA. It was agreed that a free exhibit of their horses at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds would be a great idea and perfect place to showcase them. The group also decided to draw up a list of eligible horses and ask their owners to bring them. There were over twenty horses which their owners agreed would attend the non judged exhibition.
The Tunbridge fair committee welcomed the planners with the news that they would be taking part in the 100th anniversary of the fair. On September 16,1971 from 2 to 5PM,on the track in front of the grandstand, the beauty and versatility of these “classic” Morgans was shown off. There was an In Hand parade of Stallions, Mares, Sires and Get and Under Saddle, Family, Pleasure and Driving classes. There was also a Stoneboat pulling demo and Trotting races, under saddle and to bike. The event was such a success that many wanted to try it again in 1972 but it was not to be.
In 1973 the same group of people who had gotten together for two years had attracted more interested people. They decided to become a formal club. First called “The Old Type Morgan Fanciers,” the officers were Lester Welch, President, Pat McClary, Sec/Treas. Harrison Miles, Nancy Plimpton and Lester were the reference committee and dues were $4.00 per year. After much discussion and permission from R.L. Knight’s son ,Royal, the group’s name was changed to The Lippitt Club on the premise that “Lippitt” represented a strain or type of Morgan rather than an ownership prefix.
Also in 1973, THE MORGAN HORSE magazine July issue featured the LIPPITT Morgan. Lippitt Ethan Georgia, the highest priced horse from R.L. Knight’s final sale, was the cover girl. Many photos of horses with the Lippitt prefix were featured. At that time there were no definite rules as to what was a PURE Lippitt, so some of them were not . Marshall Winkler’s article LINE BREEDING AND LIPPITTS appeared in it as well as ROBERT LIPPITT KNIGHT by Marilyn Childs, also full page adds from some of the foundation breeders such as Dana Kelley, Mrs. Margaret van D. Rice,Harriet Hilts, the Randolph VT breeders of Lippitt stock and many others. It was an important acknowledgement of the value and mark of the pure blooded Morgans to the breed.
Later that same year another exhibition of similar format as the original was held again at Tunbridge Fairgrounds. It was an exciting day as Marilyn Childs announced a history of the Lippitt horses and a brief profile of each horse as they passed in front of her. There was even an appearance of Justin Morgan leading “Figure” (Nancy Plimpton and Meredith Sambo). The highlight of the day was the race between Furbruk Don Ethan driven by Edgar ”Snuffy” Sivret and High Pastures Radiant driven by Barb Ackley. Radiant won the race.
1975 marked the First Lippitt Country Show, which was held at Pete and Deb Drurys’ farm just a short way down the road from The Stock Farm. Club members helped build a ring in their side yard. There was a special tribute to and appearance of Royalton Ashbrook Darling. Many of his offspring were there to help celebrate and honor him. The group was larger and exhibitors came from farther away. The Ashbys of Weedsport, NY brought their Allen’s Major son, Ashwood Majestic and Diane and Bruce Orser their Majestic son, Ashwood Jess’ Pride. Ironically Marshall Winkler promoted allowing half Lippitts in the show to increase the number of competitors. It was agreed upon but with much resistance from club members.
The 1976 Directory which listed 83 members also was the first time that the individuals who were chosen as FOUNDATION STOCK were listed. An addendum slip of paper stapled to the inside first page states: “For use in our 1976 directory, the term “foundation stock” should be understood to mean the horses chosen as necessary to provide a natural and consistent qualifying system that traces back to Ethan Allen2nd, rather than horses chosen as foundation stock because of their individual merit.”
In 1982 under President Clara Hendin the club was incorporated.
As the years passed there came to be increasing friction as to the place for Half Lippitts in the show ring and The Lippitt Newsletter. In 1994 a committee composed of Kate Adams, Pete Drury, Dave Carr and Nancy Plimpton worked over several months to draw up a fair and respectful policy pertaining to the place for the half Lippitt in an organization which existed to promote the pure bred Morgan. In 1995 their findings were presented to the general membership in the form of a vote for or against certain parameters. The policy was accepted on a trial basis for three years. At the end of the three years (1998) it was voted on again, passed and put into permanent effect in 1999.
It should be noted that there were other individual breeders around the country who were breeding pure bred Morgans at the time of the founding of this club and because of distance or circumstance, were unable to join at the very start. The 1976 directory lists many of them. They were Gerald & Anne Ashby, Ashwood Farm, Weedsport, NY, David & Barby Carr, Covenant Farm, Middletown Springs, VT, Clara Hendin, Rohan Morgans, Randolph, VT, Eleanor & Bill Mason, Marvelous Morgans, Gilbert AZ, Norma Lucille Reeder, Moreeda Acres, Janesville, WI., Chet & Barb Treftc, Moro Hills Morgans, Salem ,WI., Bob & Jacquie Schaumberg, Big Bend, WI., and Mr. & Mrs. Edward Walling, Sandgate Morgans, Arlington, VT.
The Lippitt Morgan and all who love them owe so very much to all the breeders, from the days of A. Fullerton Phillips on down to today, both organized or not, who kept these lines pure often at great physical and financial expense ,but always with much dedication and love for the treasures which they are.
This article is based heavily ,though not completely ,on “THE LIPPITT CLUB – HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN” by Nancy Plimpton which appeared in THE MORGAN HORSE, January, 1999 pages 114-119. Thank you Nancy for all your help. Cathy White
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