in loving memory of Dan and Barbara Jessup
The Morgan Whitehackles have been kept pure by fanciers who admired the depthless courage of the North Briton fowl. You will note that the master breeders of these birds knew that intense inbreeding was the only way to keep a family "pure". The breeding of two intensely inbred families together to produce performance stock continues this day.
In fighting cocks, such crossbred birds are used in the pit, but are useless for breeding purposed.
History of Morgan Whitehackles
Col. William l Morgan of east Orange, NJ bred and perfected this strain of gamefowl, and it takes its name from him. As the Morgan fowl are practically pure Gilkerson North Britains, it is necessary to go somewhat into the history of that strain. About 1858, George Gilkerson, an English farmer living in Cortland County, NY, imported some fowl from Cumberland, England from a man named Lawman. In this country they were known as North Britains and later known as Gilkerson whitehackles.
North Britains contained duckwing red, brown red and pyle. On and before his death Gilkerson gave many of his fowl to Col. Morgan among these fowl was a little imported Scottish hen, which Gilkerson prized most highly. Col. Morgan bred this hen with the old Gilkerson fowl and her blood is in all his fowl. All her stags looked and acted just like the Gilkerson fowl.
The Morgan whitehackles became more famous than the Gilkerson fowl had ever been. He whipped Kearney, the Eslins, Mahoney and many of a less note in many mains in the Pennsylvania coal mining district. No man has ever approached this record in short heels, and the backbone of all these mains was pure Morgan whitehackles.
Col. Morgan never made but two permanent outcrosses in the straight strain. Morgan got a ginger hen from Perry Baldwin, and put her on the yard of Sonny Stone of Newark. He had Stone breed her and her grand-daughters and great grand-daughters under Morgan cocks. The resulting progeny had the bloody heel and fighting quality of the pure Morgan's and still retained some of the excessive courage of the ginger [Newbold fowl]. Morgan finally took a fifteen-sixteenth Morgan and a sixteenth ginger Newbold hen from Stone and bred her on his own yard. That is the blood in all Morgan fowl.
About the beginning of the century John Hoy of Albany obtained possession of the fowl of Billy Lawman (relative of the Lawman in England). Morgan and Hoy exchanged brood fowl freely and as the fowl were identical in general make-up and characteristics the offspring bred on as the pure strain. Morgan bred the lawman cock when reduced to one quarter in his favorite pens at the time of his death there was a small percentage of this blood in most of his fowl. In the early nineties Morgan gave a small pen of his fowl to a Col. in Virginia. The Col. inbred the fowl and on his death they fell into the hands of a professor at Georgetown university, who knew nothing about breeding or cock fighting. He kept the family pure breeding his favorite cock to the whole flock of hens. When he died the fowl were still inbred in NJ. Neither the family Morgan bred or the family that had been inbred had changed appearance or quality in twenty-five years. Although kept absolutely apart bred together the young cannot be told from the parents on either side except that they are larger and stronger that the offshoot family.