America's Oldest Breed of Livestock

Dominique Game Fowl

In the book The American Dominique there was a small write-up on the Dominique game, however what is presented below is a much more detailed history.   Presented are two different accounts of the Dominique Gamefowl.  One is from an  old issue of The Game Fowl News magazine but first we will present two excerpts from  The Game Fowl – It’s  Origin and History.   As you will clearly see the timeline for the creation of the Domninique gamefowl is AFTER our American Dominique became a breed.

Typical Dominique Game stag – 1996 Photo courtesy Tony Perryman

The Game Fowl, Its Origin and History : with Sketches of Great Strains and Their Breeders of Former and Present Times, Together with a Complete Treatise on Breeding and Management of Fowls at Home and at the Pit : Their Diseases and Remedies, and Rules of the Cockpit – R. A. McIntyre
Copyright 1906

Some observations are in point as to peculiar colors so much fancied by many fanciers and some practical cockers. 1 do not believe the Dominiques come up to the high standard of such fowl as the dark-reds, brown-reds, and light reds. Quite an interesting article appeared in July Grit and Steel of 1904, in which a tabulated record of colors was given with the battles fought by different colors for one year. In forty-nine battles the Dominiques lost nine more than they won. However, it is foreign to my plan to criticize any color or strain. There can be no question that as far back as I can discover any authentic history of the Dominique feather, about the year I750, when they were called “cuckoos,” in England, they had devoted admirers, as they have in America at the present day, especially in Kentucky. Those gentlemen are not so much interested, of course, in what the writer may think of Dominiques as they are in some useful information as to the perfection and preservation of their favorite feather. I have experimented extensively with this color and set down such safe conclusions as I have gleaned after many years’ labor. Elsewhere I have stated that the Dominique, in some respects, is a mystery. No matter how little of the blood may run in a cock’s veins, if he be of the Dominique color he will throw his color bountifully, both stags and pullets, but far better marked in brown-red and black hens. The rock upon which Dominique breeders often split is breeding to long and persistently in and in or line breeding the feather which caused them to become whiter and whiter the longer they are so bred. The same error is in the selection of the wrong color when fresh blood is infused. If the simple rule—avoid light colors to save the Dominique feather—be implicitly obeyed, it will prove easy enough to retain Dominiques of the prettiest markings. Put a Dominique cock over brown red hens with dark legs and the offspring will be many red Dominique stags of a fixed type, as well as Dominique pul lets with red Dominique necks. Legs are always white, yellow or spotted. No Dominique cock ever has green, blue or black legs. Put the same Dominique cock over solid black hens of a breed that throws solid black or black-breast ed cocks, and the‘ get will be the best, clearest marble Dominique stags and pullets. It seems to be settled beyond dispute that the clearest and best marked Dominiques result from a clearly marked cock or hen crossed on a black hen or cock. If the desire is to get a lot of perfect marble Dominiques, put a clearly marked Dominique cock with no red feathers, or as little as possible, with a yard of hens that throw black cocks. As to color of legs, the handsomest results will be gotten by using a white-legged Dominique stag or cock marked clearly, over a yard of black hens that usually throw black cocks—dark-legged hens preferred. Breed away from light colors always to dark colors to perfect and preserve the Dominique feather.

I have advised the use of a Dominique cock in fixing the color, because the most singular results come from the use of a hen. It is impossible to get a Dominique pullet from a Dominique hen under an off-colored cock. Put a black cock over a Dominique hen and the offspring will be, all stags Dominiques; all pullets other colors—not one a Dominique. While this has been stated to be true of greys, it is not absolutely true of any other feather besides the Dominiques.

One of the most popular “off colors” in game fowl are 1. the Dominiques. They are known in England as “Cuckoos,” and a famous strain of them was bred by Mr. Barnes, an _ English breeder, who lived about the year 1800. Some have a prejudice against the color, suspecting a distant out cross of dominecker, thus accounting for the color. This is as illogical as the claim that Roundheads come from Japanese because they have “pea combs.” Any freak in colors may appear in game fowl just as in pigeons, and that freak can be perpetuated. Hence, the variety in colors. We have already discussed this subject and refer the read er to previous pages.

“Dominiques” or “Dominicks” run in colors from a very white, almost pyle or pure white (what the English cockers called a “Smock”) with bluish specks here and there, generally in the hackle and saddle feathers, , to a perfect guinea or Plymouth Rock color. All these colors may be red more or less, in which case they are called “Red Dominiques.” It is impossible to breed a dominique with dark legs; they always have yellow or white legs. No mat ter what cross is made, they always come, if of the “Dom.” feather, with white or yellow legs.

There are numerous so-called game dominiques bred and offered for sale in the United States and so many of these are spurious, worthless strainers that the color has come somewhat into bad repute in many sections. However, it would be a big mistake to say there are no good ones. In this feather the Kentuckians beat the world. That State has been famous for this feather and blues, for a century. Thomas O’Neal, of Louisville, brought the old blood to a high point of excellence and made an easy mark of all comers fighting a draw even with the great Georgia Shawl neck breeder—Chas. F. Brown, nor did there seem to be any check to the triumphant Kentuckian’s march till he struck the Kearney Whitehackles in short heels and was whipped nearly every fight. A Dominique fad spread like an epidemic. O’Neal Dominicks were in high request, he selling pullets at $100 a pair. Fakirs as usual “took up the note” and bred imitations fit only for hucksters. Confidence in due time was destroyed, as it was after the great Pacific Railway bubbles began to burst which ended in financial panic in 1873, and dominique game chickens came into bad repute. But out in old Kentucky they still had the right stuff and Roland Minton took up where O’Neal left off. Minton died before O’Neal but not before he had restored general confidence in Kentucky Dominiques. To day no fowl stand higher in the Chicago pits, and none in the States along the Mississippi have so long a string of victories to their credit. The veteran Henry Flock has whipped all comers with them. Roland Minton’s old stock was sold after his death to Mr. F. H. McWhorter, of Chicago, who is breeding them in great numbers and fights them for sums, the mention of which, would frighten the average cock fighter out of ten years growth.

The Gee Dominiques so popular twenty years ago, are still bred by a few, and said to be “in their greatest purity.” Perhaps a pure Gee Dominique is not to be found, yet the old blood runs in the veins of many of the best known strains in the world, such as Grist’s, Huddleston’s, Pierce’s. Dr. Gee lived in Alabama about 10 years ago, a man over seventy. His fowl were looked after by his daughter, Miss Sue, who continued to sell the old stock several years after her father’s death. It was remarkable that a college bred young lady with a mind for those elegancies that usually absorb the cultured female mind, could have mastered the ins and outs of so masculine a subject as the breeding and fighting of game cocks! Dr. Gee Oakey, a nephew, kept the father for a number of years, but we are informed he has practically given up the pure blood entirely. At this day the perpetuation of this famous feather as bred by the Doctor seems to depend upon the efforts of J. L. McLaurin, of Colorado, who makes a specialty of the old Gee blood. Mr. McLaurin is an enthusiastic fancier, the Gee Dominiques are his specialty, he is a breeder of standing and experience, and the fraternity are to be congratulated on his accepting the task of handing down the famous old Gee Dominiques in their purity. See cuts elsewhere in this book. (ed. Note: this was a picture of McLaurin, not of a Dominique colored fowl)

The Chappell Dominiques, of South Carolina, while not so extensively bred today, were a popular strain, and the blood is in many of those private yards in the birthplace of so many famous strains—South Carolina—now. To give some idea of the estimate placed upon game chickens in that part of the Union, a man may travel in some sections a whole day and hear nothing but a game cock crow. Drive into almost any place along the road two miles from every where, and you can buy a good game cock from a farmer for a dollar and fifty cents. I saw one of these, a Chappell Dominique cross, fight his fourth battle and die as game as a pebble (ed. Note: Not sure of that word as text is broken in the scan). There are many birds of the Chappell feather in South Carolina now, but none can truly be said to be pure. The feather has its devoted admirers in every State, and this color seems to have a peculiar fascination for many whose enthusiasm often outruns their judgment, for while the dominiques have some achievements to their credit which are even brilliant, yet their record by no means compares with that of the different shades of red and grey. What a cocker wants is winners and that feather is most desirable which brings the best results. We have already sp., on of the Huddleston W. Dominiques in another connection. From these various sources no doubt nearly all the dominiques in the States have sprung.

The Dominiques

By Silver Gray
From Game Fowl News
November 1926

It has been written that the Dominiques as we have them today were originated in this way: In the 1830s there was being bred on Rabbit Island, near New Orleans, La., some imported English-Spanish hens and a cock of the same. From this breeding came a stag that was different color markings from any that had ever before came from this mating. The owner took especial care of this stag, walked him well and when he was old enough took him to New Orleans and fought him.

When he was pitted the crowd laughed and called him a barn yard dung-hill. He was speckled yellow, blue and white, rose comb, yellow legs and beak. He walked in and made mince meat out of his opponent but everyone thought it was an accident. He was matched again and did the same work as before. His owner fought him time and again, always winning nicely. He was 3 years old and had never been bred from on account of his color.

Captain Warthall, an old river an, purchased him and brought him to Louisville, Ky., and gave him to two known well known cockers of that day. They saved him and bred him to some English hens. They saved all the pullets that came the color of the cock and bred the old cock back to them, and in this way in a few years they had a strain that was known all over the country as the Kentucky Dominiques.

The originals were yellow and blue Dominiques, yellow legs and beak, with the cocks generally having white tails, speckled with blue or yellow. The hens were either solid blue with dark eyes or mottled like a Plymouth Rock or pale blue or nearly white. In later years White Pyle was crossed on them and the rose comb bred off. At present they breed pure white, pale blue, mottled breast and hackle and saddle speckled. Some come pyle colors and some the regular Dominique color.
Tom O’Neal secured some of these fowl around 1886, and began to fight all comers.
In the early 80s [1880s] we never thought of a Dominique game fowl unless we thought of Tom O’Neal at the same time. As he was never an advertiser, and too as our country at that time had no game papers, you could readily imagine that their popularity was discovered through mains and the process of word of mouth and anxious ear.

When in the 80s [1880s] the first journal devoted wholly to pit games made its appearance Dr. J. B. Frymire was the leading advertiser of the Dominiques. It was not long before other men began taking up the advertising of other breeds, but Ohio, the Virginias and other states near Kentucky were hotbeds of Dominique breeders. In Kentucky the restraint concerning cock-fighting was synonymous with the sport of horse racing and fox hunting. Little or no opposition appeared, therefore the native sport state became the center of the Dominique breed, and its greatest activity.

When Tom O’Neal began with the Dominiques he did not strive to breed them to the Dominique color. He was a cocker with a large following who had had his defeats and bore them gamely. O’Neal and James Waddell were at this time partners, and were taking on all the big ones of those days and annexing the receipts with ease. They fought the Doms up and down the Ohio river, made more than one trip down the Mississippi and took a whole main of Doms to New Orleans and won there. Afterwards O’Neal lost the oua tournament in New Orleans).

Wingate won 20 out of 21 battles. In those days they fought for sport as well as for money and it was no uncommon thing to continue the fighting after one side had won a majority. It was at this main that Sid Taylor, who later was affiliated with O’Neal and Waddell was impressed by the almost inconvincible Heathwoods, and which blood finally went into the Sid Taylor breed of Doms.

Something else surely went into the O’Neal fowl later on, as they bred many shades of dom colors and had yellow, white and even white legs with dark spots on them. I have seen pure O’Neal Doms that were white as any Leghorn, with clear yellow legs and red eyes. I have seen others white in both hens and cocks whose only variation in color was a few pencil stripes of red, black or yellow in hackles. Others were exact duplicates of the domestic American Dominique. Some with black neck hackles; some with brown and some with golden hackles.

O’Neal was at one time ailed the Champion cocker of America, but so was Denny Mahoney, Chas. Brown, William Morgan, Michael Kearney and Anthony Greene. Championships in these days rests but lightly with the laurelled brow – too many better ones in better fix than they were before are appearing and a championship that holds more than a year or two is one not often obtained, so let us only say that the Doms were champions of their day.

Some of us see the tournaments, but the majority have to content ourselves with reading about them. In these events a certain breed may win, but more often there are several bloods and colors in the winning entry, so that it is unfair to say that John Smith’s “Bear Cats” won the tournament, when in truth John used three Bear Cats and more of other breeds whose breeding was not known to John himself. Mr. J. D. Gays breeding won two or three Orlando tournaments, and there as not the slightest hesitancy on his part to say that not all were Sid Taylors or not all were Doms. Both entered into the winning although I recall that the Sids were used the majority of the times. That Mr. Law chose the side Taylors does not detract from the rating of the good old O’Neal blood which can show more gameness. Fancier or better cutters than the Taylors were difficult to locate. So it remained a dark horse breed to run in under the Madigan entry at the next tournament, and the next tournament, and the next also which was won by the same blood under another name, and they were far from a uniform lot of cocks. They had condition and won, and they were exclusively short heel cocks bred in a short heel country and had no right to win according to the controversial disturbances among the long and short gaff enthusiasts.

I believe it was the Doms who by their steady work held both events for Law at Orlando; those old O’Neal Dom bloods sent this end of the U.S. by Mr. Gay are about as near one-style performers as cocks get to be. They will step in and show as pretty a bit of sparring as is rarely seen. They can get out of a tight corner with a wicked shuffle and go as high in a break as is necessary. I am not writing to uphold the merits of individual fowl, but rather the species.

Cuckoo Game from Australia – Aaron Frewin. October 2017