Dalton Was State Chicken Champion

By Stephen D. Bowling

The competition to be the best 4-H poultry producer in Breathitt County was stiff. To win or place at the state level brought even more significant challenges and more than ten thousand competitors. Across Breathitt County, hundreds of students ordered, fed, raised, and sold their chickens and the eggs they produced as part of the annual challenge. The Dalton family of Quicksand excelled at the annual competition and produced two state Champions.

William Shepherd Dalton and his brother, James Earl Dalton, became prominent businessmen and civic leaders in the Jackson community. They always remembered the firm business foundation and the lessons their time as a Breathitt County 4-H Club member taught them. In 1940, William S. “Bill” Dalton earned the state’s top honor with his poultry project. His younger brother, James Earl, tried for several years but finally obtained the coveted “Chicken Champion” title in 1946.

James Earl Dalton in November 1947.

The Jackson Times recorded his feat on page open and included a photo of the young farmer.

Quicksand Youth Is Named State Poultry Champion

15 Year Old Quicksand Youth Duplicates Record Set By Brother

Lightening may not strike twice in the same place, but that one brother can do as well as another at the poultry business was proven by James Earl Dalton of Quicksand, who was Tuesday named State Champion in that 4-H project.

James duplicated the feat of his older brother, William, who was the state champion in 1940.

The son of Mr. and Mrs. E. B. Dalton of Quicksand, the 15-year-old member of the sophomore class at Breathitt High School.  James Earl this year accomplished a feat he has been striving toward for the past four years.  In 1943, 1944, 1945, and 1946, he gained the county championship on his poultry project.  Last year he was runner-up for the state championship, and this year achieved the coveted state honors.  In each of the above years, he was also named district champion.

As his reward, James Earl will leave on November 29 for Lexington and the following day, leave that city for Chicago, where he will attend the National Club Congress.  All expenses on the trip will be paid for the young champion.  He will return home the following Thursday.

To win the championship, Young Dalton started his project last April 6 with 204 high-quality White Rock chicks, and he raised 201 of these to market ago.  From them, he housed 70 for his laying flock and disposed of the balance for a net profit of $35.15 despite high feed prices, which have prevailed.

From his laying flock, he netted a profit of $45.75 from the sale of eggs during the month of October.

In the annual district 4-H Club Achievement Day held here two weeks ago, James Earl drew high praise from the judges for the excellent record he had kept on his project, and their comments prophesized his successful competition in the state contests.

The Jackson Times, November 7, 1946, page 1
The announcement of the 1946 State Champions appeared in the March 3, 1947 edition of The Lexington Herald on page 5.

After graduation from Breathitt High School, Dalton chose to leave the chicken business and make his living at the First National Bank. He worked at the bank with J. Phil Smith and others for more than 27 years before he retired about 1993. He then became an active member of the FNB Board of Directors. Smith described his colleague as a loyal friend and a “fine gentleman and Christian.”

James Earl “Preacher” Dalton in February 1976.

James Earl Dalton died on December 5, 2003, at the Hazard Appalachian Regional Hospital. He was 72. He was buried in the Jackson Cemetery.

© 2023 Stephen D. Bowling


About sdbowling

Director of the Breathitt County Public Library and Heritage Center in Jackson, Kentucky.
This entry was posted in Breathitt County, Education, Farming, Jackson and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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