|Posted by Bama Red on March 8, 2012 at 10:15 AM|
Lacy Roundheads by George Wood (1942)
Judge Ernest Lacy of Jasper, Alabama, who was my mother's brother, originated the strain of roundheads which bears his name in 1916. They were basically of Allen and Shelton bloodlines. Through the years Uncle Ernest, as I called him, wrote several times outlining how the Lacy Roundhead strain was established. I have copies of several of his letters giving their history, and this information has been published in the gamefowl journals and shared with friends who are interested in the Lacy Roundhead family. Uncle Ernest died in November 1942. That is now almost 50 years ago. Cockers who carry on the Lacys have asked me to write an account of how the family of Lacys which friends and I have carried on has been bred during those 50 years. The following is an account of our breeding of this line Lacys during those years.
(Author's Note: This account is not for publication in any journals or otherwise during my lifetime. I do not approve of cockers promoting their fowl through writing about them in the gamefowl journals, and I do not want to be guilty of that practice. Also, it is my observation that writing about a family of fowl in the journals generally promotes inquiries about it by chicken raisers of every type and every degree of knowledge and dependability. I do not sell fowl and would not want to receive such inquiries. G.W.) (Editor's Note: Our appreciation to the author for allowing us to produce his work on this site. His requests are noted in hope that the general public abides by them.)
Background Information. Uncle Ernest and I were the only members of our family who cared for game chickens. In fact, an aunt (Uncle Ernest's sister) who did not approve of cockfighting said when her only grandchild was born, Oh, I hope he won't like game chickens. Clearly, she considered a liking of gamefowl to be a family weakness. From the time I was a very small boy I always had bantams, in spite of living in Birmingham, making numerous moves and other obstacles. I was completely fascinated by them and absorbed in raising them. Not until I was in high school did I learn that Uncle Ernest had game chickens and a strain of his own which was known and respected throughout the country. During my high school years, when I visited in Jasper, Uncle Ernest would take me with him to visit the walks where his chickens were raised. He lived in town and did not keep fowl himself, but had excellent walks where people kept them for him. It was a sight to see those beautiful Lacy cocks as they would come up on these walks' faces red, feathers shining, bursting with vitality, bright eyes seeing everything that moved. They made a lasting impression on me. I've loved a good roundhead cock since those days. Uncle Ernest died unexpectedly of a heart attack in November 1942, while visiting a yard of his chickens with his close friend and cocking partner, Manley Daniel. At that time, I had been drafted into the army and was about to be sent overseas. A few months later I was sent overseas and spent the next 27 months in a 4.2 chemical mortar - battalion fighting in the European Theatre of Operations. Before leaving for overseas, I got a week-end pass and made arrangements for a fine old man who kept chickens for my uncle to keep two or three selected trios of broodfowl for me and to maintain another yard on a walk nearby where some of Uncle Ernest's best fowl were kept. When I returned from World War II, I found a tale of woe with my chickens. The old friend who was to care for them had taken a war job in another city and had not raised any young from the brood fowl I'd left with him. One old brood cock had died and another was sterile. He had brought chickens from other of Uncle Ernest's walks, many of them being crossed with other breeds and put them on the yard where my pure Lacys were to have been kept and bred. The result was that I had only a few old Lacy hens from my uncle's yard to carry on with.
My First Years of Breeding (1945-1952). After World War II, I went to Auburn University to study forestry. I found a family in the "colored" quarters of town who agreed to keep a pen of chickens for me. I built a pen in their back yard and brought three old Lacy hens from Uncle Ernest's yard to Auburn. Having no brood cock left from my uncle's yard, I wrote Mr. J. T. Shepler of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and asked if he would sell me a cock to breed to these hens. Uncle Ernest and Mr. Shepler had been exchanging fowl for several years and Uncle Ernest considered him an excellent breeder and a "stickler" for deep gameness. Today, if I were in the position I was in at that time, I would seek out the very finest Lacy cock that I could find anywhere to breed to these old Lacy hens. Uncle Ernest had many friends who, I know now, would have been glad to let me have anything they owned. In those days, however, I was shy and afraid of imposing on anyone. So, I wrote and asked Mr. Shepler if he would sell me a cock. Mr. Shepler wrote that he was sending me as a gift as fine a cock as he ever sent my uncle. He said the cock was an "Albany-Claret" and that his father was one of the greatest cocks he had ever seen fight. The Albany-Claret cock Mr. Shepler sent me was not al all impressive in looks. He was a medium red in color, straight comb, yellow legs, rather small. He had one unusual characteristic; he walked with his legs bent, never straightening them out but always having a bend at the knees. I bred this Shepler Albany-Claret cock to the three old Lacy hens and raised several stags and pullets. However, I went to Duke University to get an advance degree in forestry and did not get any of the stags fought. I put the pullets on a yard where Mr. Clyde Clayton of Boldo (near Jasper) was keeping chickens for me. The stags raised from these pullets on Mr. Clayton's yard killed themselves except for one baby stag before I got home from Duke. It is an indication of the gameness of these stags that except for the baby one, not one beat-up, one-eyed stag remained; they all had killed themselves. I had seen similar indication of very deep gameness in the half Lacy-half Albany-Claret stags that I'd raised the year before at Auburn. The baby stag which survived on this yard was of a different mating. I had taken a small, marked hen from Uncle Ernest's yard where I left chickens during the war. To her I bred a beautiful Lacy cock belonging to Manley Daniel. Manley had been Uncle Ernest's close friend and cocking partner for many years. He knew the Lacys intimately, having been closely involved in the breeding, walking and fighting of them almost from the time they were originated. The baby stag left on Clyde Clayton's yard was from the hen from Uncle Ernest's yard and Manley's Lacy cock. The next year, in the late summer, my favorite of the ? Lacy-? Albany-Claret hens running under the above stag (from the Lacy hen from Uncle Ernest's yard and Manley's cock) stole her nest off in the garden and set. I examined the eggs while she was setting and they were all uniform and appeared to be from one hen. That plus the fact that the nest was out in the weeds and it was the time of year when hens were raising chicks of varying ages and stealing their nests rather than laying together, led me to assume that the eggs were all from this. From this setting of eggs, one stag was raised. He was typical Lacy and did not show the Albany-Claret in his lineage. I showed him to Manley and I'll always remember his saying, "George, we have winned with many a one that looked just like that." When I fought this cock as a two-year old, he won a sensational one-pitting fight that brought a roar from the spectators. At pitside I gave this cock to Russell Sutherland and Carl Davis. This cock bred to Russell and Carl's Lacy hens produced the best Lacy Roundheads any of us have seen since Uncle Ernest had them at their best. Not only were they outstanding battle fowl, but with everything they were bred to, first class fowl were produced. Carl and Russell and I bred primarily to this cross of the cock I gave them and their hens as our main line of Lacys from that time on. We exchanged brood fowl so frequently that our Lacys have been essentially the same bloodlines since the mid-1950. My introduction of the Shepler Albany-Claret into our Lacys, which as said above I would not do today, proved to be a fortunate introduction of new blood which "nicked" with and freshened our Lacy family. I was very lucky.
As mentioned, the Lacy? Albany-Claret cock which I gave to Russell Sutherland and Carl Davis in 1954 bred to their Lacy hens produced such outstanding offspring that we all have bred primarily to this line from that time on. As to the breeding of Carl and Russell's Lacys: Carl's father, George Davis of Jasper, and Uncle Ernest were good friends. They fought together, Uncle Ernest furnished Mr. Davis Lacys regularly through the years and he bred one of Mr. Davis' roundheads into his Lacys. Carl was a young man in his early twenties in those days, and he fed for both his father and Uncle Ernest, helped him with his walks, etc. Uncle Ernest thought the world of Carl. He told me that Carl was as fine a young man as you would find anywhere and that you could believe implicitly anything that he told you. Carl and I later became very close friends and I held him in the same esteem and affection that my uncle did. Russell Sutherland was a young man in Haleyville who loved gamefowl and helped Uncle Ernest walk cocks in Winston County. He especially loved Lacys and Henry Worthan Hulseys. Carl moved to Haleyville in the late 1930's and he and Russell became cocking partners. At the time of Uncle Ernest's death, they were out of Lacy blood. They went to Manley Daniel, who as mentioned was Uncle Ernest's friend and cocking partner and had had the best of the Lacys, and from Manley they got a trio of Lacys. They were very successful with the offspring from this trio, both when fought pure and when crossed. As a matter of breeding interest, it should be pointed out that the lacy hens they bred to the cock I gave them carried 1/8 Newell Roundhead which came from Mr. Ned Toulmin of Toulminville, Alabama. In 1955, Russell Sutherland told me to come up to Haleyville that he wanted to give me a trio of their Lacys. When we went to the yard, I saw the most beautiful Lacy hen grazing in the weeds that I have ever seen. Evidently, she caught Russell's eye too, for he "walked" her down and gave her to me. She became a major cornerstone of my breeding. I have never seen before or since a cock or hen which to me was as beautiful as this hen. Her beauty did not lie in long feathers. She was a neat, round bodied, buff colored hen with somewhat short but smooth feathering. Her beauty lay in her proportions and above all in her movements. She was like a ballerina, a symphony in motion, always in perfect balance. I used to watch her with pleasure and with wonder.
When picking seeds in the grass, her stride was wide, smooth and swinging, but when she was in a hurry, her steps were short and very quick, always smooth, her body in perfect balance. When she fought, she was like lightning, crossing her opponents and hitting multiple blows on their backs with amazing speed. As said above, this hen, which I call the Russell hen, was the cornerstone of my breeding. I bred her to a number of different cocks and used the offspring as my main broodfowl. Since her offspring by these cocks comprise much of the foundation of my Lacy family, I will describe the most important cocks she was bred to. As stated previously, most of them were from the cross of the cock I gave Carl and Russell and their Lacy hens. I bred the Russell hen to a son of the Lacy-? Albany-Claret hen which was the mother to the cock I gave Russell and Carl. From this mating I got the best battle cocks I've ever owned and some of the best I've ever seen fought.
I bred the Russell hen to a stag Carl gave that was from a son of the cock I gave him bred back to his aunts. The daughters from this mating were some of the best brood hens Iâ€™ve ever owned. I bred the Russell hen to a stag Russell gave me that was out of daughters of the cock I gave him and Carl bred to a brother to the Russell hen. From this mating I got a son that was one of my most used brood cocks. This cock was rather light bodied for a Lacy and limber muscled, but well muscled. He had unusually smooth, coordinated movement. He was exceptionally active and energetic, always on the move, but not nervous in disposition. He would look you square in the eye, not mean and wanting to fight you, but not afraid. I liked him very much for this disposition. Most of the Lacys I have had and have let friends have for many years carried his blood. My closest bred fowl were from this cock bred to his sisters, daughters and other relatives. I also bred him to the last of the old hens from the mating of the cock I gave Carl and Russell and their hens. (Russell and Carl called these the "George Wood" hens and I'll refer to them this way hereafter in this report). Many of the best Lacys fought in Alabama in the last 25 years have been descended from this mating. I also bred the Russell hen to what was known as the white-tail cock. Friends kept telling me of a little white-tailed roundhead cock which was being fought almost every week in brush fights around Haleyville, always winning. Finally, I learned that when Russell Sutherland picked up the stags on the yard where the George Wood hens were bred to the brother of the Russell hen, he picked up the cock early and when he got the stags there was a baby stag left which was thought to be from the hens and their bull stag sons. Russell gave the baby stag to the owner of the yard where he was bred and the owner sold him for $1.00. This baby stag grew into the white-tailed cock that was winning so many fights. I bought this cock for $25.00, the only time I have ever purchased a cock. Interestingly, this cock turned solid white the year after I bought him and remained white for two or three years. He was turning back red when he got out of his pen and was killed. This cock was a very fine specimen, firm but limber in muscle, well-proportioned and well feathered and with a steady, friendly disposition. His offspring are being carried on today in my lines and those of friends, as will be seen later in this account. I bred the Russell hen to a cock from Carl that had a little Bingham Red in him and got a fine son which made a foundation brood cock for my friend, Noonan Gortney. In those years I made one infusion of other Lacy blood which is carried in small amounts in many of my Lacys today. In the 1960's I exchanged a pair of Lacys with Hugh Norman. I got first-class roundheads from this cross, very game and capable fighters. Today many of my Lacys carry from one sixteenth to less than one-hundredth of this Hugh Norman Lacy blood.The matting described above were the heart of my breeding during the 1950?s and 1960?s. I was breeding half brother and sister, half uncle to niece, etc. Everything traced back within a few generations to just a few individuals, those individuals being the ones described above. I was breeding very closely. During these years, I fought my generally closely inbred cocks in small derbies with mediocre success. I won an occasional derby but was never a dangerous contender. The cocks were kept is small round stationary pens, never moved from the time they were put in them as stags, then put through a two week keep, usually by an only average feeder or they were scratched in a fly pen by me and fought out of it. Although they did not have an impressive winning record, these small, inbred Lacys showed qualities which were generally admired. They were sought after by those with Lacy blood and by others who wanted to use them for crossing. I will list some of the cockers who have acquired and carried on with these Lacys later in this account. During these same years, Carl Davis was fighting our line of Lacys crossed with power blood with considerable success. (Russell had quit fighting by then.) Carl's best cocks were Lacy-? Hatch or other power blood. They were some of the best cocks to be found in Alabama, winning consistently in all of the major Alabama pits. If they went to the drag pit with a power cock on equal terms, they would win four times out of five on cutting ability and gameness. It was Carl's success with his Lacy crosses more than anything else which made cockers in Alabama begin wanting roundheads again. Until then, almost the only thing wanted was pure power blood. Carl's success showed cockers that a cross of Southern fowl and power blood could produce first class battle fowl. (Hugh Norman knew this. Although he advertised only power breeds at the time, Hugh told me in the early 1960's that his best cocks were his Lacy-Hatch crosses and that when someone paid him top prices for his battle cocks, the Hatch-Lacy crosses were what he sent them.)