by Johnny Jumper
One of the breeds of gamefowl most in demand today are the “Sweaters”. There are several versions of how they originated. The following account of their origin is “straight from the horse's mouth”. It comes from Johnny Jumper and another respected cocker who knew the parent fowl; when, where and by whom they were bred. The following is their version how the Sweaters originated. Sweater McGinnis gave Walter Kelso a yellow legged Hatch cock whose bloodlines are thought to trace back to Harold Browns McLean Hatch. Mr. Kelso bred this cock to his Kelso hens and the offspring from the mating proved to be outstanding pit cocks. Cecil Davis, who was a friend of Mr. Kelso, walked cocks for him and had access to Mr. Kelso’s best fowl. Cecil got one of the cocks which Mr. Kelso raised from the Sweater McGinnis Hatch cock and his own hens. Cecil got this cock from Doc Robinson, who also walked cocks for Mr. Kelso. The cock was yellow legged and pea combed. Cecil bred him to five of his out-and-out Kelso hens. The offspring from this mating were the foundation of the Sweaters. They were called Sweaters because the Hatch cock from Sweater McGinnis was their grandfather. As the above indicates, in breeding, they would be ¾ Kelso-¼ yellow legged Hatch. The original Sweaters were bred by Ira Parks, who was Johnny Jumper's brother-in-law, a very fine man and an excellent breeder of gamefowl. Ira, Johnny and Cecil were at the hub of a group of cockers in northern Mississippi and Tennessee who were friends and cocking partners. Several of this group got Sweaters from the original mating. Some of these friends have bred the Sweaters without addition of outside blood and have them in their purity today. Other breeders have added infusions of other blood to their Sweaters. The line of Sweaters which is bringing the breed such popularity today came from Roy Brady, who got some of the first mating of Sweaters, to Sonny Ware, to Odis Chappell, to Carol Nesmith and the Browns of Mississippi. Odis Chappell let a number of friends in addition to Carol, have his Sweaters, so the blood has been distributed rather widely in central Alabama in recent years. It has been excellent blood for all who got it. This line of Sweaters produces occasional green legged offspring, usually pullets. When asked about his, Roy Brady said that at one time some Hatch was bred into this line. This line is said also to carry small amount of Radio blood. The Sweaters described in this article are typically orange-red to light red in color, with yellow legs and pea combs. Of interest, however, Dolan Owens of Booneville, Mississippi, acquired some of the early Sweaters and has bred them to come uniformly dark, wine red in color, straight comb and white legged. In looks, these two lines of Sweaters show almost no resemblance. This is an example of how a family of fowl can be bred toward different standards by different breeders and In a few generations the two lines will be like two different breeds. Sonny Ware bred some Radio into the Sweaters making them pumpkin in color. Most people like this color better and breed to that end.
Lun Gilmore was a cocker and a good friens of ben ford,they fought birds with and agianst each other for over 60 years..lun gilmore accired his birds direct from sanford hatch and mike kearny ...when mike crossed the kearny brown reds on the hatch birds they were awsome as any ever bred til this day...sanford wanted to breed em back to the yellow legged side but mike insisted on breedin them one more time to the brown red side and produced them to fight.fight they did and won some derbies against everyone at that time,he wanted to breed a cock of his fathers breeding which was the kerany whitehackle to the sanford ,kerany,kerany breedings- from this breeding he had 17 black birds with white specs in them and over 40 brownred lookin birds,,he then crossed these back on the brown reds-having the kearny white hackle in them and hatch blood they came all dark fowl with green leggs-mike give lun glimore 6 hens and one dark red cock to breed over them=this was the origination of the gilmore hatch fowl -and the ben ford fowl-these birds was given and sold to gilmore from mr hatch and mike kearny...it did kearny mike s fathers blood -mike kearny sr white hackle blood in them and still till this day they will come spangle or dark ...!the next breeding that was the brown red and kearny out and out became the 42 hatch that jd perry dominated with-same fowl from same people except did not have the kearny white hackle in them...but mostly yellow leg ,and the black leggs made em all come od green legged.......believe it or not.....i knew collonel givens for over 40 years and he got his from lun gilmore in the early 40s and also got some of mike kearny jrs white hackles that was dark red and spangled.....and fought the kearny white hackle crosses at sunset and all over north alabama.....collenol givens and jimmy east were the handlers for john ovilan fowler from huntsville ala.when john fowler died jimmy kept has hatch birds and collenol givens kept the white hackles.....so the gilmores are 1/4 kearny whirte hackle-1/4 hatch- 1/2 brown red bred back to the 1/2 hatch 1/2 brown red and kept that way until he passed on- - - - still til this day all gilmores will throw a spangle every other year or so....depends on how there bred and where ya got them- - - so there is your facts- believe it or not- - - but if ya didnt get em from gilmore there yours MR KELSO* MADDIGAN*LAW*KEARNY*MORGAN* O 'CONNOR....there your birds- heres ya sign.......! before i forget...the mike kearny brown reds and the sanford duryeas crossed were very good fowl and after they bred em back makin the 42s the breeding back to the p combed hatch side was the ones they gave Ted McClain, and Thodore Mc Lean two seperate men...and the ones that were 3/4 hatch-duryeas and 1/4 kearny were the left nose hatch of the late Sweater Mc Guiness....Marvin anderson was in ww! with sanford hatch and become friensds in 1910 were they fought in north alabama in long heel mains which was all new to the short heelers....marvin s father had the Kelcy patts from ireland and sanford hatch fell in love with the long heel roosters....sanford gave birds to marvin untill his death,and marvin gave the patties to sanford upon any request of these men....and they whipped all round head fowl those days. which was dominating the early years....judge lacy was makin a statement at this time and was winning more than average in alabama and at the agusta tounaments.....the Kelcy Pattswere brought from ireland by marvins grandfather well before the civil war......no one knew there originality.... strait combed,lemon hackled,bigg thighs and wide backs and spangles came dark red with lemon around the bottom of the shaw.......the photographs are all black n white.....marvin lost them over the years do to hawks and eagles in the mountain areas of north east alabama....he owned the ranburne pit which was shut down in 73 due to his health........... Lun Gilmore was the insperation of establishing the hatch name in the south,tTed mclain routed the hatch name when he was dominating with the hatch fowl,sweater came famous in the mid section of the country,jd perry and blondy roland,harold brown ,ben ford,frank steel ,and curtis blacwell made the hatch name in the south east......the fowl that gilmore aquired were theone that won the orlando tiurnament from mr hatch and would have payed any price for those fowl...and was a very sharp eyed man that could recognise an ace cock....that made him a true breeder and respected in the gamecock fraternity...sanford hatch told marvin anderson that lun had the best fowl of the dark breedings anywhere and he would do well with them....at that time lun whipped leiper in a fight that lasted 6 hrs and 10 min.....both men strived on deep game fowl..as did all long heel men of the south at the turn of the century untill there deaths......
By Harry Parr, November 1977
Interest in the breeding of game fowl strains has always run high even though the knowledge thereof seldom has any practical application. I have been asked many times to set forth the breeding of the Mclean Hatch and their offshoot, the Blue Face family. This I have done briefly in letters and countless times orally. It is amazing how twisted these accounts become. So, since this subject appears still to hold the interest of many, I have decided to write down the facts for one and all. Although Ted Mclean has been out of the “chicken business” since December of 1954 at which time he gave me all his fowl, he is still very much with us. I mention this only because I have seen too many “histories” come out when it is too late for the facts to be verified by the principles involved. Further, the following is being written with my notes and breeding records before me and this paper will be limited to first hand information. Finally, lest anyone think there is an ulterior motive involved, my chickens are my hobby. I keep only enough for my purposes and have never, nor do I ever contemplate selling them. In the early thirties, Mr. E.S. Hatch and Mr. E.T. Mclean were on the floor of the stock exchange. That Mr. Hatch gave Ted Mclean fowl is the testimony enough of their friendship, as it is well known that Mr. Hatch did not let many go. At the time, Mr. Hatch’s fowl consisted of four basic bloodlines. These were the Kearney fowl made up of the two strains Mike Kearny brought from Ireland, namely (1) the “beasy” Breasted Light Reds (Whitehackles) and (2) the Brown Breasted Reds, plus (3) the Herman Duryea fowl (commonly called Boston Roundheads) which he added when he worked for Mr. Duryea. With these bloodlines Mr. Hatch incorporated (4) the green leg Thomson (Jim Thomson) fowl. I might say here that from then till now, the strain made up of these four bloodlines is what Ted and I call the “straight stuff”. In those days virtually all the fighting in the North East was done in inch and a quarter, heavy, slow heels, which is not surprising considering the cockers prime requisite, was gameness. It followed the toughness and power was high priorities and the Hatch fowl had all these in abundance. While they surely did not compile a great winning record, they were admired by name for these attributes. Fortunately, Ted Mclean kept this set of priorities or the “straight stuff’ would have long since gone by the boards. For in addition to these attributes, the Mclean Hatch are poor cutters, low headed dumb fighters, that usually take two or three shots before unleashing one of their patented hay makers. Obviously as the heels got faster their ability to win lessened, so they are useless now if fought pure. Their value then, is only as an ingredient to produce battle cocks. Ted Mclean bought “Gamecock Farm” in Maryland and built one of the best all around chicken plants I have ever seen. He gave me a trio of his Hatch fowl in 1948 and shortly thereafter I bought a farm within a short distance from his. I suppose I was at Gamecock Farm a couple of times a week and everyday during fighting season, because we fought a heavy schedule and chickens were almost always in the cock house for conditioning. At least one experimental cross was tried each year and many produced superior battle cocks, but as soon as one quit, all chickens containing that blood, came under the axe. I saw an awful lot of chickens killed and when he retired from the game in 1954 and only the “straight stuff” remained. All of these fowl were given to me.