Joseph T. Bailey, a descendent of Richard Bailey (one of the original
settlers of Bluefield) married Ruth Webb on August 26, 1939. After living in a
coal camp at Monitor Holler for a year, the farm was purchased by the young
couple in July of 1941. In order to make the down payment, Joe sold their
only means of transportation, a Chevy truck and borrowed money from various
relatives including his mother-in-law Ella Stone Webb; he then proceeded to
work eight shifts a week to pay off the mortgage all the while walking to
Ashland Mine and back each day before beginning his farm chores.
Joe and Ruth raised eight children on the farm. To feed their brood they
raised dairy and beef cattle, hogs, chickens and a large vegetable garden.
Their eldest son Jerry was lost in a mining accident in 1964; however, the
remaining four sons and three daughters along with numerous grandchildren
reside from Maryland to Texas and still return to the family farm for the annual
apple butter making.
In the early seventies Joe, an avid hunter, acquired Snoopy, a small black
and white feist that would prove to be the first of the “black dogs”.
Snoopy was bred to a shorter stocky bobbed-tail dog. From this litter his
most prized squirrel hunting dog and companion, Sparky, was born.
Sparky was bred to
a small black feist. This litter produced five black pups, two of which were
sold to a fellow hunter while the remaining three pups and their mother
remained on the farm. Joe was never alone on the farm, as the pack of black
feist accompanied him everywhere. In the fall of the year, Joe and his
“black dogs”( along with various grandchildren) could be found in the
mountains of southern West Virginia to the steep ridges of Pocahontas
County in hot pursuit of gray squirrels.
Joe and Ruth both passed at the beginning of the new millennium, and the last
of the “black dogs”, Kate, passed shortly there after. It seemed only fitting
that "Black Dog Ranch" would serve as the new moniker for the farm where Joe
and Ruth had spent nearly sixty years of their life, over 25 of which were
accompanied by one or more of the well-loved line of "black dogs."
The Black Dog Ranch (BDR) is a working farm that invites
you to come and enjoy the many natural amenities. Among these are peace
and quiet, fresh air, and copious numbers of wild flowers, songbirds and
game. Gorgeous sunsets and starlit skies unchallenged by city lights free the mind of the stress of the
urban life-style. The fall foliage is brilliant and is followed by a
blanket of snow which covers the mountaintop farm much of the winter.
Whether you're looking for a quiet place to hike, observe nature & wildlife,
or rest comfortably after a day of ATV action, the BDR is the vacation destination.