Almost 200 Karakuls were imported into the US and Canada between 1908 and 1936. Dr. CC Young is credited with the first Karakul importation in 1909, and FE Dawley, AG Granger, Alex Albright, and Peter Swartz are credited with being the pioneer improvers of the breed. Dr. Young was born in Russia and educated as a physician. He became a world adventurer and lived at home with his mother in Holliday, Texas. He was a real estate salesman but traveled extensively, mingling with presidents, kings, and important people worldwide.
In 1908, carrying letters from then President Theodore Roosevelt to prominent men in Russia, Dr. CC Young went to Russia and bought 5 Karakul rams and 10 ewes from the Pultava Agricultural Society. When this first importation arrived at the port of New York, the Secretary of Agriculture decreed that they be returned to Russia or slaughtered. The timely interference of some interested men, including FE Dawley with the assistance of President Roosevelt, ensured their entry. They were kept in quarantine in Athenia, New Jersey, and eventually some were brought to Dr. Young's father's ranch in Texas.
In 1912, Dr. Young joined the International Sheep Congress in Moscow and bought 11 rams and 6 ewes from exhibitors there. This second consignment landed in Baltimore in the spring of 1913. In order to recoup his finances, many of the sheep were sold. About this same time a number of men who raised silver foxes on Prince Edward Island formed the Young Karakul Fur Sheep Company. Young tried to regain ownership of many of the imported animals and move them to the island. There was so much interest that the company sent Dr. Young to Bokhara to secure a larger flock. He traversed the desert, the southern and central plateaus of Bokhara, and along the Amu-Daria River. Because of his connections with the Russian officials, Dr. Young was able to select the finest specimens obtainable. A flock of 21 sheep (15 rams and 6 ewes) were shipped to the US Quarantine station at Beltsville, Maryland, where 5 of the rams died. The remainder of the flock was shipped to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
In 1914, a flock of 130 Karakuls was brought from Russia by the Agnew Syndicate of Newfoundland and the Royal Investment Company of Charlottetown, PEI. This flock was kept on a rugged mountain near St. John, NF, for nearly two years, subject to quarantine and inspection. The wet climate was not as "fur-minded" as expected; the fogs made it the worst place in America for a flock of sheep raised in a dry climate and at an altitude of over 5,000 feet [1,524 m]. So, in February 1916, negotiations were made with FE Dawley, who already had a small flock of Karakuls from earlier importations, to move this group to New York state. When the American Fur Sheep Registry was formed during the summer of 1916, all these sheep were under observation and careful records were kept of operations. Only 24 head of the imported sheep passed the tests and provided the foundation of the Registry.
Mr. FE Dawley of Fayetteville, New York, became interested in Karakuls early in the history of the breed in America. In addition to purchases from the earliest importations, in 1916 he secured the Karakuls from Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island; and that year formed the American Fur Sheep Registry. He did much to preserve and improve the breed and sold many Karakuls to American breeders, also making several exportations abroad.
When talking about his original flock containing imports from 1909, 1913, and 1914, FE Dawley said, "Our success with this flock has been such that after a careful investigation, the Dr. CC Young Karakul Fur Sheep Company of Prince Edward Island decided to send their flock, comprising the three importations by Dr. Young, to us. The Royal Investment Company and the Agnew Syndicate have also combined their flocks with ours, and all the sheep are at Dotshome Farms." He later boasted, "...two imported rams, Abou Ben Adam and Alexander the Great, were by all odds the best Karakul rams ever imported. No other Karakul strain shows such quality of fur." The farm in Fayetteville, NY, had over 200 head of purebred Karakuls registered in the American Fur Sheep Registry, incorporated under the laws of New York state in 1916.
A son, Lamson Dawley, later took over the flock; then it and the Registry went to Ted Stultz, followed by Karen Koch of Ohio, then Julie DeVlieg [it is now called the American Karakul Sheep Registry, and is operated by Rey and Dee Perera in Boonville, Missouri]. In the early 1990s, Ted sold the last remnants of the original Dawley flock (1 ram and 2 ewes) to Kim Pesko, Port Byron, NY. In 1995, Kim offered to trade a resulting Dawley ram lamb for one of my ewes; this gave me my first Dawley, RVF NiteJet. In 1997, Kim decided he didn't want sheep any longer and asked if I would take them. That is when I acquired the original 3 animals, plus 3 of their lambs.
A lady came up to me at a show a couple of years ago and said that she lived in Fayetteville, NY. She said the big old Dawley barn still stands in the middle of a subdivision called Dotshome Farms, and down the center of the subdivision runs Karakul Lane...