Marsh Speeders

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A grey speeder cock courtesy of Nico.
A grey speeder cock courtesy of Nico.

By Mark Marsh

The Speeders were originated by Phil Marsh in 1890 and received the name "Speeder" on Decoration Day in 1900 at a main vs. Jim McHugo when McHugo remarked "ain't they speedy little devils." A sailor got two pair of fowl in the Dominican Republic and while returning to New York aboard ship one of the roosters was knocked overboard and lost while being sparred. The remaining rooster and two hens were brought to Fort Plain. These fowl came grey, blue and pyle in color with dark legs, balck eyes, and straight combs. Phil purchased a hen from Burnell Shelton of Mississippi. She had a rose comb, dark legs, and eyes. This hen was bred to one of the grey Dominican stags and the fowl from this mating came grey, blue-grey, and brown-red with dark legs and eyes. A few years later Phil purchased a blue-grey rooster from Earl Walrath of Fort Plain. This rooster was bred on the daughters of the first mating of the Shelton hen and Dominican stag. Through years of selective breeding the rose comb was eliminated. The Speeders come grey and brown-red with dark legs and eyes. They are known as excellent cutting fowl.

The Grey Speeder Fowl

By Phil Marsh II

I have just finished reading the letter by "Lunchmoney" in the January 1982 Gamecock, in reply to an inquiry by Odus Swindle as to the breeding of the Grey Speeder Fowl.

I am the son of the late "Bill" Marsh and grandson of Phil Marsh, after whom I was named.

My father, Bill wrote an article on the breeding of both the Speeders and Butchers for both the late Mr. Piper and Mr. Marburger which were published in the Feathered Warrior and Gamecock in the 50's or early 60's. My son and I have tried to find these articles but have been unsuccessful.

Fort Plain, NY, though a small town had many, many cockfighters in the late 1890's and early 1900's.

Two brothers from Fort Plain, who were sailors on a sailing vessel picked up two grey cocks on the island of Santo Domingo in the Caribbean. On the return trip to the U.S. they sparred the cocks on the deck of the sailing ship and one of the cocks was knocked overboard and lost a sea. The other cock they brought to Fort Plain and fough him several times, winning them all. When they returned to sea my grandfather, Phil, bought the cock. Grandfather sent to the Carolinas for a brown red, rose-combed hen. I believe he bought this hen from Burnell Shelton, but I'm not positive; it can be verified by the aforementioned articles in the Warrior and Gamecock. The of-spring of this mating came both grey and brown red.

My grandfather fought a main using mostly greys and one of the spectators remarked, 'They are speedy little devils' and from that day on, they were called "Grey Speeders".

As the years passed it was difficult to get bets whenever they pitted a grey cock so my father started to raise more brownreds by selective breeding. These were called just plain "Speeders".

In the early 1920's my father and grandfather got a Groves cock from friends in Rome, New York and bred him on Speeder hens and produced the "Butchers", but both Clarence Boiner (pronounced Burr-knee) and Elmer Weller were from Ft. Plain. Mr. Weller was a local tax assessor, lived in town and raised a few fowl in a small back yard. Mr. Boiner was a local laborer and worked part-time for my grandfather.

My grandfather was an avid fox hunter and owned many fox hounds. Bother Mr. Weller and Mr. Boiner hunted quite often with him.

Neither Mr. Boiner nor Mr. Weller raised many fowl and fought only a few hacks fights a year, although they often accompanied my father and grandfather to many of the mains fought in Troy, New York at the old Foley Pit.

Incidentally, Fort Plain is in the The Mohawk Valley, halfway between Albany and Utica. None of the aforementioned gentlemen were from White Plain, which is in Westchester County, near New York City.


  • Feathered Warrior; Oct. 2002
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