by P.P. Johnston
The original strain of chickens from which the Sid Taylors of today were made goes back many years before the Civil War of 1861. These chickens were bred by Jim Shy of Lexington, Ky. Mr. Shy's names has been spelled in several ways- Shigh and Shei, Shy seems to be correct, as it is spelled Shy in the Turf Guide and in accounts of races, in which his horses ran, in old copies of "The Spirit of the Times." He is remembered today by some of the oldtimers round Lexington, who speak of him as a sporting man of the highest honor. Shy lived near the racetrack at Lexington and bred his chickens on the farm of Jim Price, who lived near Pinegrove, Ky. Their farm joins the land owned by Mr. Gay on which he lives and breeds his chickens. Price was interested in all kinds of sporting events and he backed Shy's cocks heavily. Shy fought his cocks in Lexington and other places very sucessfully. The cocks came red, brown-red, pyle and blue-reds, many of them having white feathers in their tails and wings.
Mr. Gay had an uncle who lived near Pinegrove who remembered walking cocks for Price and Shy in the fifties. Soon after the war of the sixties, Sid Taylor got the chickens from Shy. Mr Taylor was closely associated with Shy until his death in 1892. When his eyesight began to fail he gave Mr. Taylor his gaffs and all his chickens.
The first cross that Mr. Taylor made on the Shy chickens was in the early seventies. In 1869 George Cadwallader, who had been a jockey and was at that time a race horse trainer, sold a horse named Pompey Payne to W.R. Babcock, an Easter turf man, for $15,000, and as a further consideration he was to get six black imported Irish hens that Mr. Babcock was to procure from a man named Hudderson, of Rhode Island. Cadwallader then gave his chickens to Mr. Taylor. I have seen a letter written a few years ago to Mr. Gay by George Cadwallader verifying these statements. On these six Irish hens, Mr. Taylor put a blue cock that came from Shy. Noone knows the proportion of this blood Mr. Taylor put into his chickens, but with them he suceeded in winning the respect of Tom O'Neal, the great Dom breeder and cocker of Louisville, Ky.
Tom O'Neal was associated with Waddle, who controlled most of the gambling houses in Louisville at the time. Mr. Taylor furnished a great many cocks to O'Neal and Wadle. Mr. W. Pragnoff, of Louisville, Ky and Wadle imported from Vinegar Hill, Ireland, some game chickens. These chickens were called Waddle Irish. They had black eyes and dark or mulberry colored faces. The hens are black, the cocks very dark red, and dark brown red. Mr Pragnoff has talked of the importance of these chickens with Mr. Gay many times. During the time that Mr. Taylor was furnishing cocks to Tom O'Neal and Wadle, he crossed the Wadle Irish into his chickens. This was about 1880. He also made a cross with the O'Neal Doms and established a yard of Doms. Since that time Mr. Taylor had one yard that showed the Dom color and Mr. Gay has done the same since. The Dom blood has never been bred into the other families and they never show Dom markings. The other families were bred into the Dom family from time to time and the Dom color has been kept up but they do not always breed to color. Mr. Taylors cocks were Doms, Blues, Brown Blacks, Reds and Gray Reds, with a few Brown Reds. Some of them showed white feathers in the tail and wings.
The Origin of the Log Cabins, the Brown Red family Mr. Gay has developed himself. In 1912 Mr. Gay fought a Brown Red stag from the red family that he like so much that he bred to him and continued to breed him until 1920, when he died. This cock was kept at a log cabin on the farm and he came to be known as Log Cabin and the chickens from him were called Log Cabins. Today the Log Cabin families are largely the blood of this one cock. Log Cabin had 21 full brothers. The Sid Taylors are purely a Ky. product, the foundation stock being the old Shy chickens. Into the Shy chickens, Mr. Taylor put the imported Irish blood from Hudderson in the early seventies. In the early eighties, Mr. Taylor again crossed in Irish blood, named the Wadle Irish. These two infusions of imported Irish blood into the Shy chickens made all the families of the Sid Taylors, except the Dom family, which has the addition of O'Neal Dom blood about 1870. There has been no other blood put into the Sid Taylor since these crosses were made by Mr. Taylor-a period of over 40 years. The Sid Taylors have the right to be classed as a pure and distinct strain and for over 40 years they had been in the hands of only two men, their originators, Mr. Sid Taylor and Mr. J.D. Gay.
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