Arkansas Travelers

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Pic courtesy of Tuzojoe.
Pic courtesy of Tuzojoe.

By F.E. Montgomery

Something like a year ago, I believe, I promised my uncle, Mr. W.M. Smith that I would attempt to write the history of the Arkansas Travelers. This history serves as a link connecting the Montgomery Travelers with the old time Sledge and Hanna strain. My original blood was selected from the very best matings we had. Now, so far as real facts are concerning as to the original blood, I know very little, only that the old Nick Arrington fowl, of North Carolina. served as the foundation on which to build. This North Carolina fowl came into hands of Col. Jim Rogers, of Arkansas, who fought them for years. This same Rogers' fowl was named and became famous as the "Arkansas Travelers". Sledge and Hanna, and also Mr. Sam H. Jones met all comers for years with great success. When I was a small boy the late W.H. Hackney, of Wesson, Mississippi, and my uncle, W.M. Smith, ordered a pen of pure Sledge and Hanna Arkansas Travelers direct from Mr. Sledge. I was only seven years old, but I remember just as though it were yesterday, going to my grandfather's to see these Travelers. I can now see the little blue stag, the prettiest thing on earth. I had always loved game chickens and had a few that my uncle had given me, but I offered all I had for a stag from this mating. I was assured first choice of the stags, and just as soon as they were large enough to tell the roosters from the pullets I went up to make my selection. Don't anyone reach the conclusion that though only a boy in my eighth year, I did not know just what kind of stag to select. My uncle said when I made my selection he knew he had lost his best. I brought my stag home and began daily to give him all the feed he would stand. In a few months I had a real stag ready for a good country walk. This I found with a colored man on our farm. Time passed and the stag became a real cock, most two years old, and ready for the pit. One evening my uncle came to my room, and what do you suppose he wanted? The country boys were hacking with the Wesson boys in two weeks, and they (the country boys) wanted to use "Arkansas", as I called my cock in one of these fights. I was assured that nothing on earth could whip my rooster and when I was offered 25 cents for the use of him, I gladly let him go. "Arkansas" was the prettiest cock on earth, I thought, a light dove colored blue-red with dark eyes and legs, peacombed, and weighed about 5.10. I knew nothing of how they cut out all the hackles and saddle feathers in that day. If I had, he never would have gone. "Arkansas" proved as good as he looked, whipping a three time winner in the first buckle. When he came home, trimmed up, I became disgusted with my deal and traded him for a stag. Every year I would exchange for another cock or choise stag and 25 xents, my uncle's way of keeping a good walk. Until this day my uncle has never denied my obtaining his best cock or stag if I wanted them or needed them. Time passed and I became 15 years old and knew enough, I thought, to begin breeding for myself. I got a setting of eggs and raised a stag and five pullets. The stag was a brown-red. All had dark eyes and legs. I didn't want to breed my stag to the five pullets, so I paid my uncle another visit to select a stag from a different yard to breed to these pullets. He was a compact fellow, and you could tell by seeing him move around he was going to make a "storm", and he matured into the prettiest Pyle I ever saw. After they had appiled the shears to old "Arkansas", I had not sent any more to the pit, but just traded them outright. My uncle assured me that the Pyle stag mated to the five pullets would produce the greatest chickens on earth. I secured a good yard on a free range with a tennant on our place and brought every bird he raised. I bred by stag two years, walking my young stags, mating the old cocks with pullets, and my choicest stags over my old hens. The next fall my uncle came to see me and brought R.B. Shelton and Will Allen with him. Shelton and Allen had a main closed to be fought at Allison Wells, Mississippi, with Mr. John Taylor. They said they just had to have my cock to pit against a certain weight of Mr. Taylor's that had already whipped "Ole Hitler". My uncle let them have the cock. The fight came on and the stag defeated the cock in two pittings. That was my first time to see Mr. Shelton. We remained warm friends from that time until his death. He and my uncle bought all of my stock and fought and shipped them every where. Mr. Shelton once said to my uncle, "Bill, Gene had the best Blues on earth." The last time he visited me he bought six of my choicest brood stags and had them on his brood yard at the time of his death. From the time I was fifteen years old until 1918, I bred a few chickens of the purest and best of the old Arkansas Travelers. In March, 1918, I let my uncle look after my chickens while I was away in the world war. I was gone eleven months and four days when I received my discharge. I resolved to purchase a farm and to raise the best travelers possible. My uncle was to buy all that I could spare at a standard price. In the course of three years the demand for the Arkansas Travelers and the Newell Roundheads continued to increase. The Arkansas Travelers is one of the oldest strains. You can watch all the game journals of today and wherever pitted he wins a greater percentage of battles than any other strain you can find. When pitted the Traveler is eager to go, and will give you the very best that is in him at once. This often in the first pitting. The Travelers come dark blues, light blues, red-blues, pyles, duck-winged reds, brown or black-reds, and occesionally a gray. Legs are generally dark with now and then a yellow or white, eyes from a firey red to black. Weight 4.08 to 7 pounds. They are quick to score and all do not fight alike any more than they are colored alike. Some are smart and careful, while others rush in and bill, shuffle and roll. However, the smart ones do this in close corners. I have not fought many large mains or tournaments, but my cocks have, in my customer's hands and in the hands of my uncle and Mr. Shelton, meeting all comers for years, and with much success. In Juarez, in 1926, the greatest cock shown was a little duck-wing red cock, 5.02 bred by me, and when my uncle won the great Memphis Tournament in 1924, my cocks won 100%. Mr. E.J. Deacy, of Flint, Michigan, won second money in a tournament last season, using three of my stags, all winning. I could produce hundreds of letters where they have defeated the best in America, but space and time will not permit. I now have fifteen well mated yards, every one bred on free country range, and will say that the demand for them is satisfactory. This in itself is sufficient proof that the Montgomery Travelers of today equals the old time blood of Sledge and Hanna and Sam H. Jones. I line bred from the very beginning, and have kept them that way, having two families to select brood stock form. My uncle and myself have exchanged brood cocks with each other until there is no question, in our minds, as to their ability, gameness, etc. In selecting my brood yards I am very particular in selecting the hen. The hens must have attention if the breeder succeeds in making his strain meet the demands of the cockers in the pit.

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