Wyandottes are mentioned as early as 1873, but were not admitted to the APA Standard of Perfection until 1883, when the Silver Laced variety was admitted. Their origins are variously reported as New York State and England, which are reflected in early references to them as American Sebrights and Sebright Cochins. The Silver Laced large fowl has the color and pattern of Sebright bantams, as illustrated by this rooster and hen from the Wyandotte Breeders of America, http://wyandottebreedersofamerica.com/wbaindex.html.
According to Wikipedia, the name comes from Wyandotte, or Wendat, Iroquoian Indians from the eastern woodlands. Their name is thought to mean "dwellers on a peninsula" or "islanders." The name is frequently found in the Midwest. The Wyandotte Nation is a federally recognized Native American tribe, located in Oklahoma.
They reflect their Asiatic ancestry in their yellow skin. Their eggs range in color from light to rich brown. Their rose combs with a downward curved spike are distinctive, probably inherited from their Spangled Hamburg forebears. The comb remains a significant point for breeders. Its small size close to the head makes it resistant to freezing, an advantage in cold climates. Dark and Light Brahmas gave them size and color pattern, although the Dark Brahma color markings are unacceptable in the breed now. All Wyandottes have rose combs regardless of feather color. They feather quickly as they grow. They are substantial birds, with mature males weighing 8 ½ lbs. and hens 6 ½ lbs. Hens lay around 200 eggs a year, with some reports of as many as 240.
I was interviewed today on the Chicken Whisperer's radio program, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/backyardpoultry, discussing Wyandottes. As promised, here are some drawings from the American Poultry Advocate of April, 1912 showing the ideal conformation of Wyandottes.
Breeders often advertised their Wyandottes. The breed was very desirable, both for breeding as as egg and meat producers.
Proud owners displayed full page pictures of their prize birds, as these from the American Poultry Advocate of March 1913.
Wyandottes are a traditional American composite breed worthy of more attention. Consider them when you choose a breed for your flock.