The Independent Voice of the Afghan Hound Breed
43rd Year Of Publication
Pages FromThe Past
(Margaret L Nison Kennels
Santa Fe, New Mexico)
(Lilian Goodman 1978, Our Afghans, July 2009)
Extended by Steve Tillotson January 2012
Updated June 2013. Additional Info From Lyall Payne
UPDATE June 2013
Lyall Payne (Bletchley Hall Afghan Hounds, NZ) has provided some bio info about Margaret L Nison, so we'll add them here at the beginning of the article. We have also uncovered a newspaper article dated 1937 regarding Mrs Nison and a scan of a pedigree handwritten by her, so we have added those items also).
Newly received Bio information with thanks to Lyall Payne
Here is some info about a quite remarkable lady whose contribution to the afghan hound breed has been well under-reported.
The impact Margaret L Nison had on the Afghan hound breed cannot be over-stated. Zahera of Prides Hill produced some of the breeds most significant producers whose influence exists to this day. They include Amanalluh of Kandahar, Shaitan Bedar, Ku Mari Khyaam of Arken, Shabra and Ramy among a good deal many others.
While not all bred by Margaret, some of the really important ones were.
A sculptor, Margaret's own story is fascinating and interesting. She was born in Paris, the daughter of one of America's foremost landscape artists, Ernest A Lawson. He was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada moving to the United States in 1887. He became a member of 'The Eight' a controversial group of eight artists (that included George Luks) who although mounting only one exhibition together (1908) started an entire 'stream' of development in American art. Lawson had earlier married his art teacher Ella Holman. Margaret was born while he was studying in Paris at the Acadamie Julian (famed for many famous pupils including Matisse and John Singer Sargent).
On the breakdown of George Luks second marriage he went and stayed with a former pupil of his, artist and benefactor, Margarett Sargent, known to us as Mrs Q A Shaw McKean. She was fourth cousin to John Singer Sargent who also visited at stayed at the McKean household.
In 1940, Margaret Nison (by this time a divorcee) was living in Santa Fe, renting a property with her 72 year old mother Ella Lawson. It is almost certain that Nison was living there to enable involvement with 'El Delirio' the retreat for American artists and sculptors set up by the sisters, Amelia and Elizabeth White. 'El Delirio' was the New Mexico home of the Kandahar afghan hounds and Ch Tufan of Ainsdart, imported from England and litter brother to QA Shaw McKean's Eng Ch Badshah of Ainsdart. 'El Delirio' is also significant to the history of the Irish Wolfhound breed and still exists today, promoting art and artists just as it did in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. The kennels and graves of these famous hounds remain preserved and named to this day.
When considering how the lives of all these people and their friendships (of the McKeans and the Marx Bros, the Marx Bros and Phyllis Robson (Editor of the UK Dog World), Phyllis Robson and Mary Amps of the Ghazni afghan hounds) it comes as no surprise how the ownerships and breedings established the breed in America. Margaret Nison provided a strong link between some of these fanciers and likewise enabled many of these lines to continue.
Ernest Lawson drowned in Florida in mysterious circumstances in 1938 and Margaret spent some time in Florida also. She continued with her sculpting for the rest of her life. She married again and died as Mrs Margaret Lawson Bensco in April 1989 in Berkeley California where she had lived for many years,
Continuing with the original article -
Margaret Nison is a breeder who made a significant contribution to the development of the breed in the USA. I believe Ms Nison's contribution is deserving of a fuller recognition than has been documented in the past. We will start this article with the information provided by Lillian Goodman many years ago and build upon Ms Goodman's work and endeavor to provide a fuller picture of this very interesting breeder and the contribution she made. A second dimension to this extended article is the Afghan Hound bitch Zahera Of Prides Hill. Zahera who was the dam of many important litters, but her ownership changed multiple times. We will document the ownership of Zahera, as detailed in the AKC stud books over time. One of the owners appears to be Margaret L Nison
Advert for Margaret Nison's Bandra Ghur Kennels, 1938
Ms Goodman, rightly lists Ms Nison's kennel location as being in Santa Fe, New Mexico. However, Ms Nison's involvement in the breed started years earlier on the east coast. The following snippet is from Country Life Magazine, Volume 68, dated 1935 - "First went to Mrs. Margaret Nison of Westport who won the Dog and Vashwn Show at the Longshore Club with her pair of Afghan Hounds". Here is another early snippet, this time from Arts & decoration Magazine, Volume 45, dated 1937 - "A very gay dog. Mrs. Margaret L. Nison's Afghan hound, Rustan, bred at QA Shaw.
What these two snippets establish is a) Ms Nison was located in Connecticut through to the mid 1930's. b) Ms Nison worked closely with Q A Shaw Mckean (Prides Hill Afghan Hounds) almost from the time that Mckean acquired his first Afghan Hounds. It will not be surprising therefore, to later learn of Ms Nison's breeding activities and her long-standing connection with Zahera Of Prides Hill. Following the above preamble let us move on with Ms Goodman's original writings -
Update Febuary 2012 -We recently found some writings by Mrs Kench-Owen, stepdaughter of Chris Knudsen (Riverside) who confirms that Margaret Nison was resident in New York in 1935, having recently moved there from the country (meaning Connecticut). Details on next page
Update June 2016 - Some notes and photo from Inge James (Spectrum Afghan hounds and the breeds senior Historian)
Mrs. Margaret Nison used no kennel name, yet produced a number of dogs of major impact on the development of the US pedigrees. The Nison's were the 11th breeder in US history, bred 7 litters with 9 champions and were active from 1936 to 1942 .Their first litter was by Ch. Badshah of Ainsdart x Zahera of Prides Hill (it is assumed that they leased Zahera for two litters as she produced her 8 litters for 3 different breeders). Among their influential dogs were Ch. Yusseff, Flo Flo of Ghazni, Ku Mari Khyaam of Arken, Ch. Kandra of Riverside and Shaitan Bedar. The Nison dogs heavily influenced, among many others, the Grandeur, Dureigh and Arken lines, and provided the foundation stock for the Arken and Fergovia kennels. (see IMPACT I and II-B)
Margaret Nison started her New Mexico Afghan Hound kennels in the early 1930's with three dogs and a bitch from Q A Shaw McKeans famed Prides Hill kennels and another bitch from Lulu Catron. They were:
Rustam (sometimes listed as Rustum) a fawn dog whelped 8/16/34 out of Ch Badshah Of Ainsdart ex Azra of Ghazni, AKC registration number A4913. This litter bred by Q A Shaw Mckean also included - Amita Of Prides Hill, Guatama Of Prides Hill, Kushdil Of Prides Hill, and Niliyo Of Prides Hill
Pedigree of RUSTAM Parents Grandparents Great-Grandparents Great-Great-Grandparents Ch Int Ch Badshah of Ainsdart Ch Sirdar of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Ku-Mari of Kaf Bm Ch Taj Mahip of Kaf Bm Khym Bm Daghai Bm Sonee Bm Ooty Bm Ch Ranee Bm Am Ch Asra of Ghazni Ch Sirdar of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Shireen of Ghazni Malik of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Rani of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded
Ramy, another fawn dog whelped 5/14/1935 out of Ch Badshah Of Ainsdart ex Zahera Of Prides Hill, AKC# A115806
Pharaoh, another fawn (litter brother to Ramy) AKC# A95595. The Ramy and Pharaoh litter also included - Abdur Of Prides Hill, Bagheera, Khyber Khan, and Menelek
Pedigree of RAMY AND PHARAOH Parents Grandparents Great-Grandparents Great-Great-Grandparents Ch Int Ch Badshah of Ainsdart Ch Sirdar of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Ku-Mari of Kaf Bm Ch Taj Mahip of Kaf Bm Khym Bm Daghai Bm Sonee Bm Ooty Bm Ch Ranee Bm Zahera of Prides Hill Westmill Omar Danenda of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Surkh of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Am Ch Asra of Ghazni Ch Sirdar of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Shireen of Ghazni Malik of Ghazni Rani of Ghazni
Ch Shabra, a beige Afghan Hound whelped 11/19/1933 out of Ch Badshah Of Ainsdart ex Westmill Taree AKC#A952548. Shabra was at one time owned by Harold Martyn of the Kaimar Kennels located in Pennsylvania, USA. (Photo at top of this page is of Shabra)
*****Ed Note October 2013 -: Our records indicate that Shabra was out of Zahera Of Prides Hill (not Westmill Taree). We are seeking to validate our information. Also, via our correspondent Rik Mcdowell (Panache USA) we have received a photo of "Shabra Of Prides Hill". To add to the confusion, we do not find a Shabra Of Prides Hill in the AKC stud book, but we do find Shabra who we believe was bred at Prides Hill kennel. We are endeavouring to obtain a copy of Shabra's AKC registration which will confirm the breeder (Ms Nison or Q A Shaw Mckean?).
Shabra Of Prides Hill
(Photo courtesy Rik Mcdowell)
(Photo courtesy Lillian Goodman)
Rana, another bitch, from Lulu Catron whelped 9.10/1935 out of Ch Badshah of Ainsdart ex Westmill Taree.AKC#96596.
Pedigree of RANA Parents Grandparents Great-Grandparents Great-Great-Grandparents Ch Int Ch Badshah of Ainsdart Ch Sirdar of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Ku-Mari of Kaf Bm Ch Taj Mahip of Kaf Bm Khym Bm Daghai Bm Sonee Bm Ooty Bm Ch Ranee Bm Westmill Taree Ch Ashna of Ghazni Ch Sirdar of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Shireen of Ghazni Malik of Ghazni Rani of Ghazni Westmill Chaya Danenda of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Faida of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded
Rana was at one time owned by Dr Charles Kie Atkins, Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA. Dr Atkins kennel name was "Sasco". Westmill Taree was bred by Mrs. Wood in England and exported to Lulu Catron's kennel located in Lockland Ohio. Rana was mated to Ms Nison's "Pharaoh" and a litter, including Claire Of Sasco whelped in 1942, the owner/breeder recorded as Dr Atkins. According to Ms Goodman, both Rana and Pharaoh were later sold to Dr Charles Atkins, who also acquired Ramy who became the first Afghan Hound to be registered in Canada. Ramy's first owner in Canada was Mrs. Constance Corbet. Ramy next came under the ownership of Mrs. Viola Fielden of "Ku" Afghan Hound Kennels and made a significant contribution to the "Ku" breeding program.
So, even before we get to New Mexico, we can see that Ms Nison was significantly active in Connecticut as a breeder, exhibitor. She was also involved with Afghan Hound kennels in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and eventually one of her foundations (Ramy) went to Canada and contributed to establishment of the breed there. Ramy was also used by the Canadian El Myia kennels of Mrs. Mary M Matchett.
Early Afghan Hounds Section
Q A Shaw Mckean (Prides Hill Afghan hounds)
Badshah at Crufts 1932 (Four Leggers 1932)
Badshah at Westminster 1935
Margaret Nison (Bandra Ghur Afghan hounds)
Amelia White (Kandahar Afghan hounds)
Whats New At OA
Whats New At AHT
Email Ruth Weddle at "Our Afghans".
OUR AFGHANS Magazine -- Publication No. 703040 -- is published monthly at a subscription rate of $30.00/year, in the U.S, $37.00/year in Canada and overseas by WEDDLE PUBLICATIONS, 22235 Parthenia Street, West Hills, CA 91304-1348. Periodicals Class postage paid at Canoga Park, CA O1304-1348