Historical Breeds


11 Years
Jul 23, 2008
The question of "historical" vs "heritage" that was raised in another thread got me to wondering what kinds of chickens early New England settlers would have brought with them into the wilderness.

The western Maine town in which I live was first settled by Europeans in 1755 when a fort was built here. It was not until 1766 that the first church was built and not until 1785 that the town was incorporated.

I am curious what breeds of chicken the settlers would have brought with them in the second half of the 18th century when they came to clear the land and claim their homestead.

I've done a little internet searching, but haven't been able to come up with much information on the history of chicken breeds.

I do not mean to get into an argument about what it means to be historical or heritage. I think heritage is defined by some chicken organizations (probably not the same way by all of them) and that historical is a matter of personal opinion. The labels do not matter to me, I am looking for something of a factual time line and then I will form my own opinions about historical (and perhaps keep them to myself!) and leave the matter of heritage to organizations which wish to promote certain breeds.
The thing is that the Dominiques they had isnt the American Rose Comb Dominiques we have today.. The Dominiques back then was a Single Comb, hawk-color breed.

I'll have to check the library -- it sounds like a book I would enjoy, but at $85 the price is a bit steep for me!

As for the pilgrims, this is from the Plimoth Plantation website in the rare breeds section:
Animals were an integral part of agriculture in England as well as in New England, providing not only food and hides but also manure for fertilizing fields. The colonists imported livestock to help create a permanent settlement.

In addition to the Kerry and Milking Devon cattle, Arapawa goats and Red Dorking Chickens mentioned here, Plimoth Plantation raises Wiltshire Horn sheep, San Clemente goats and Tamworth pigs. Each of these breeds has been selected as an animal that best represents the livestock found in Plymouth Colony in 1627. Museum staff work with archaeological and historical records as well as livestock depictions in period prints and paintings in order to determine the animals best suited for a ‘role’ in our living history sites.

Regarding the Dominique, this is from the Oklahoma State poultry section:
The Dominique breed developed from the fowl introduced during the early settlement of New England. These were of the type predominating in the south of England and from which the Sussex and Dorking descended. This stock was widely distributed in the Eastern half of the United States by mid 19th century. The breed was generally known as Dominiques except in the region of origin where they were known as Plymouth Rock and occasionally as Pilgrim Fowls. The differentiation between Plymouth Rock and Dominique was not made until 1870 when the management of the New York state poultry show ruled that only rose combed fowl of intermediate size could compete as Dominiques, and that all medium and large single combed fowl of this color would be known as Plymouth Rocks. A small single combed bird of this color was called a Dominique Leghorn.​
This passage is of particular interest to me:
These birds had no type, and were marked like Joseph’s coat of many colors – some were speckled black and white; others had red and white in their plumage, which could be expected of a fowl of mixed origin. Some of these had five toes denoting Dorking ancestry, and others bore the Hamburg carriage and shape. Most of the original females were wonderful layers, considering the conditions under which these fowls existed. Their eggs were light brown. They made good mothers, which was very essential in those days, as there were no modern incubators.

When our standard makers handed out the decree that the plumage should be sharply barred, many breeders crossed the original bird with the Barred Rock. This changed the form, eliminating the heavy tail plumage which was characteristic of the old original Dominique, but it did, however, improve the color. After the cross was made, this breed began to lose its popularity

It seems to me that the original Dominique was something of a farmyard mutt.​
I would think the Dominiques and American games mostly- if not the Americans the Old English Games which "Fathered" the Americans.. Most of the American histories can be traced back to the 1800s, and were here before that.
and American games mostly if not the Americans the Old English Games

I agree that American Game had to be on the boat over here. I think the Morgan Whitehackles date back to the 1850's.


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