I have before me at this time letters from W. A. Kelso, Col. John Madigin, J.M. (Milo) Frost Jr., a letter from Gilbert Courtois, who fed the Kelso cocks for 25 years and many letter from my good friend John J. Liberto, Galveston, Texas, who made hundreds of single matings for Mr. Kelso; also helped him with brooders and incubators for 32 years.
In writing this data on the Kelso fowl I am not drawing upon hearsay and my imagination for facts, but rather upon my long association with these great cockers and breeders.
Mr. Kelso was not the kind of man who went around telling everyone he came in contact with how he bred his chickens. The only reference I ever came across from him was a letter that was published in The Gamecock magazine for April, 1964.
He had written this letter to a personal friend, who sent it in for publication a couple months after Mr. Kelso’s death, Febuary 1, 1964. It was in regards to the breeding of one family of his fowl, the Oleander Peacomb Fowl.
In the letter about the Oleander Peacomb Fowl he stated that he bred a Blue Judge Wilkins Typewriter – McClanahan cock to two Tom Murphy’s straight comb Whitehackle hens and produced the two red, “Left Out” marked hens that were later bred to a “Yankee Clipper” cock that Duke Hulsey gave him, which produced the original pea-comb fowl that won an average of 85% of their fights from 1947 to 1953.
The above mentioned Blue Judge Wilkins Typewriter – McClanahan cock was bred out of my two Typewriter hens, bred to the McClanahan cock I brought down to Mr. Kelso’s place, and bred there and NO OTHER Typewriter cock or hens were bred there, and NO OTHER McClanahan cock or hens were bred down there.
When I left Galveston, Texas, I left Mr. Kelso a large number of stags, bred out of my Typewriter hens and the McClanahan cock I brought down there to breed to my hens. Kelso fought my fowl (young cocks) against Bobby Manziel, deceased, and they won a great main, fed by Turley Stalcup of Tennessee. Mr. Stalcup wrote me of the results of that main and asked me for hens bred the same way.
I have many letters here from John J. Liberto, who helped Mr. Kelso for 32 years with his fowl, in Galveston, Texas, and he assures me that the only Typewriter hens of and the McClanahan cock (Austin-Claret-Smith Roundhead) was ever bred at Mr. Kelso’s, or by him down there.
Hundreds of men have written me about the Kelso Clarets, some saying they have them, others wanting information on them. Although Kelso had many of Madigin’s fowl he never bred any of them pure, as he always wanted his own strain of fowl and bred towards this goal. I know this will surprise many, but there is no such fowl, as Kelso (Madigin) Clarets. However, some of his “Battle Cocks” contained some Claret blood.
I fed a 13-cock main for Mr. Kelso against Gilbert Courtois, New Iberia, LA, which was fought at the Club Belvedere, near Erath, LA, which ended in a draw. Gilbert Courtois had won many mains at that time and was rated the Champion of Louisiana. The Kelso cocks I trained were half E.H. Hulsey (Pumpkins), one quarter Smith Roundheads (DeJeans) and one quarter Madigin Claret.
Kelso made a main against Smutt Griffiths, Victoria, Texas; Jeff Lankard, Goliad, Texas, and others in their combination. It was a “show” of 21 and 17 pairs matched. Sam Bigham and Henry Wortham visited Kelso’s cock-house and he extended them the courtesy of examining his cocks.
When Kelso asked them what they thought the results would be they replied, after prompting – that they felt I had “Drawn” the cocks too much and that the cocks Kelso was meeting were absolutely perfect.
After Wortham and Bingham left the cock-house we soon heard the bets of 100/60 and 1000/six hundred offered. Madigin drove up and asked why the big odds. I told him that the experts had felt of Kelso’s cocks and thought we had no chance. I then handed Madigin some of the cocks and he looked them over.
As he was leaving the cock-house, Mr. Kelso asked him what he thought about them. He replied, “I am going to break these smart betters.” J.M. Frost had an interest in our main, but withdrew his support and went with the opposition. The final score was Frithiof-Kelso 11 and Griffith-Lankard 6. We won the only hack after the main and Kelso and Madigin won a great deal on the main as they were my only backers.
I used 3 of J.M. Frost’s Pipeliners in the main and the rest were E.H. Hulsey-Smith Roundhead-Madigin Claret crosses.
Sweater McGinnis teamed up with Tom Averyt (feeder for Hill McClanahan), J.M. Frost Jr., (Pipeliner and Frost Greys), Judge Ed Wilkins (Typewriters) and other backers and challenged Kelso to fight them for a thousand dollars on each battle. We fought at Austin, Texas. We defeated the combination 8 to 3. I used one Madigin Grey that won and the rest were E.H. Hulsey-Coutois-DeJean-Smith Roundhead-Claret crosses.
When Kelso fought a main against Madigin in New Orleans his cocks were Roundheads from Louisiana. Madigin won the main 11 to 6. The Madigin Clarets completely outclassed the LA Roundheads.
Kelso fought four E.H. Hulsey cocks and one Madigin Grey cock against Judge Edward Wilkins at Austin, Texas late one season. Wilkins used 5 cocks, one half Marsh Butcher and one half Typewriter. The Hulsey cocks were pumpkins (Yellow Birchen color), all lost, the Madigin Grey won.
In 11 mains and hacks after the mains, I fought Wilkins over 150 battles. He told me only 5 cocks of this sum were or had any Butcher blood in them, and this should refute the allegation of two of the “self-appointed experts,” who wrote articles for The Gamecock that stated that the Wilkins cocks were either 100% Marsh Butcher, or one-half Butcher.
Appearing in August 1946 Grit & Steel is a report of a 9 stag main, page 36, between Walter Kelso, Gilbert Courtois feeding, and Maurice Cohen, San Antonio, Texas, fought at Berg’s Mill San Antonio, Texas. Won by Kelso 6 to 3. Kelso used 5 stags bred by John Liberto, Galveston, Texas.
In the February issue G&S, page 67, 1948, is a report of a main fought between Regels & Co., Alice, Texas, fed by Lee (pop) McGinnis, “Skeeter” Alford handling, against Walter Kelso, Gilbert Courtois feeding and handling for Kelso. Score 5 to 4 for Kelso. Kelso used 4 cocks bred by John Liberto, Galveston, Texas.
The reason I mentioned the mains fed by myself and those fed by Gilbert Courtois for Mr. Kelso, was to show the readers that Mr. Kelso was NOT FIGHTING COL. JOHN H. MADIGIN CLARETS in any of his important mains.
Upon the death of Mr. Madigin, September 16, 1942, Mr. Kelso fell heir to his fowl, which surprised many, as all thought Mr. E.W. Law would inherit them. Madigin didn’t relish Mr. Law selling fowl and perhaps, this influenced his decision.
Madigin’s instructions were that Frank Heiland, who fed his cocks for many years, was to be given a trio of Greys and Bill Japhet, son of his old-time friend, Dan Japhet, was to be given some of the fowl if he wanted them.
Kelso had “Sweater” McGinnis with him at the time. McGinnis didn’t like the Madigin fowl and was busy killing them. He did fight some of them at Waco, Texas and most lost.
When I was with Mr. Kelso, Col. Madigin would bring down a dozen or more cocks and I would place them in big pens to “freshen them up.” After they had been on green grass for a month I would put them up and work them out and fight them in New Orleans Tournaments for Madigin.
He would bring his green legged Regular Greys and Red and White Clarets, usually an equal number of each color. Madigin told me many times that his Red and White Clarets were the same identical fowl, bred exactly the same, contained the same blood-lines.
Madigin had a dozen hens down there in large pens (Kelso’s place) and we went after them while I was with Madigin. However, when I went with Kelso there were no pure Claret fowl down there and I doubt that Kelso bred from them.
Madigin believed that fowl bred in Canada, where he bred his fowl and brought down to Texas, would improve them, because of the difference in climate, minerals in the ground and in the grass would be beneficial to them.
Sweater McGinnis brought down to Kelso’s place a Peacomb red, yellow legged cock, heavy plumage, long wings, and broad back. He was bred to Kelso’s “Out and Out” marked hens and single mated to the little bluff, straight comb, Murphy hens. This cock was called the “Sweater” cock.
McGinnis got a Regular Grey Madigin cock from Kelso. John Liberto, Galveston, Texas, had been breeding the cock to his Pipeline (Frost) hens for Mr. Kelso. A Perfection Grey cock was also bred to Pipeliner hens for Kelso’s use. The original Madigin Perfection Greys were out of a Madigin Regular Grey named “Perfection,” bred to Red Clarets hens.
When Walter Kelso (Oleander Club), Gilbert Courtois feeding, won the Sunset Derby in 1952, he fought 6 Yankee Clippers (Claret-Albany’s), 3 Claret crosses and 3 Griffin cocks. The Bob Angelle trophy was given to Gilbert Courtois. (May issue G&S, page 17, 1952.)
May 6, 1953, Kelso (Oleander Club), Courtois feeding, won a main against Mr. Halff, J.D. Perry feeding, at Nine Mile Club, 6 to 4. Kelso used some of his “Little Murphy” cocks and Oleander Reds, which were Typewriter-McClanahan. Old Murphy, Yankee Clipper, and Claret blood. June issue, Gamecock, page 44.
Mr. Kelso obtained from Billy Ruble, a pea comb, Brown Red, dark legged cock, twice a winner at Hot Springs, same day, and he was bred to the dark legged hens Tommy Murphy sent Kelso. The cocks were very game but average fighters. Tommy Gillespie, the editor of the Game Fowl Breeders Journal, had been trying to get some Kelso fowl from the caretaker on Kelso’s place. Kelso told his caretaker to sell them to Gillespie and keep the money.
The Ruble cock was then bred to Kelso’s best Buff, straight comb hens and the cocks were satisfactory. Best “Left Out” marked little hens.
John Liberto let Kelso breed his dark wine red, straight comb yellow Pipeliner (Frost cock to his buff, yellow legged, Murphy hens). Sweater McGinnis fought the cock twice. After Sweater left Kelso’s place to go into the army Gilbert Courtois bred him for Kelso for a few years. Kelso won mains and derbies with this mating. Later a son of the Pipeliner cock was bred the same way with excellent results. The blood of this line of fowl was in his later fowl, his very best fowl.
Mr. Griffin from Alabama was walking stags for Mr. Kelso and he sent Kelso a bright red, single comb cock, that was a sensation, a five-time winner, called the Trosclair cock because Trosclair had walked him; he was also called the $1000 cock. Griffin also sent Kelso a dark red, pea comb, white legged cock, extra good. Some offspring from these cocks were raised and they were satisfactory.
A Hennie Mathesius Hatch cock was bred by John Liberto to his Pipeliner (Frost) hens and Kelso used many of them with good results.
Mr. Armand DeJean, Opelousas, LA, gave Kelso some of his Smith Roundheads and Kelso gave them to John Liberto. Later Kelso got some of them back again. I think some of the cocks I was fighting for Mr. Kelso carried this bloodline.
One of the Grey cocks Kelso used for his Grey colored cocks was from Carl Van Wormer, Houston, Texas. He was a Shake and fought several times. Van Wormer rented Col. Madigin’s place in Houston, Texas, after Mr. Madigin’s death, from Madigin’s daughter.
When I visited him there he had fowl from E.W. Law, Dave Ward, Frank Shy (Narragansett) and some Albany fowl (Old Albanys). Van Wormer joined me in 5 mains, all of which I won. I let him have a Madigin Grey cock, sire of 5 cocks I fought against E.H. Husley and Henry Wortham, at Arcola, Texas, in our $2000 main.
Four of my Grey cocks won – the 5th cock met a 9 time winning Hulsey cock, they went up, came down flopping, dying and it was called a draw. Wortham said they were the best Grey cocks he ever saw the fight in any pit. I don’t know for sure if that Grey cock Kelso got was out of my cock, or form E.W. Law stock.
This is the true way Kelso bred his fighting cocks and they were TOPS.
Gus Frithiof Sr.