of the aerial performers
The Trenton Strain of Racing Homer
Origins of the Trenton Strain
Conrad A. Mahr, started flying homing pigeons in 1886. His first club
was a “family club” made up of Conrad and several of his schoolmates.
One of these schoolmates had a cousin (Mr. Bond) who kept homing pigeons
and who was moving out of the area. It was decided that the loft and
birds would be moved to the schoolmate’s house.
and his friend got a horse and wagon and moved the loft and birds. For
his labor, Conrad received some homing pigeons, including “137 Trenton”
out of an old imported pair (blue bar cock and red slate hen) of the Gus
Offerman Strain. This pair had won for Offerman, in 1881, 1st and 2nd
National in the most prestigious long distance race (550 miles) of all
Europe at that time.
Offerman Strain was basically a cross of the birds of an Irish flyer
named McCluthian with the birds of Henri Soffle. The strain of Henri
Soffle was founded on birds of Baron Ulen, the fancier credited with
having formed the first reliable strain of racing pigeons derived from
other varieties of pigeons (The Liege, the Antwerp, the Brussels, etc.).
The McCluthian birds were descendents of “ship birds”. These ship birds;
were used by captains sailing the channel ports, to relay messages to
the owners about when the boats would be docking and the extent of the
cargo carried. As a side note: the Hansenne strain also had the ship
birds in their background.
birds" trace back to the 1850's and were developed by Dutch fishermen. A
Mr. Giles brought a group of "ship birds" back from Antwerp to England
in the early 1850's and described their heritage as being the "Antwerp"
type; a cross of the Antwerp Owl and the English Dragoon. However,
Andres Cooper, secretary of the Belgium racing society, relates that the
base of the Belgium racing pigeon was the Cumulet of Antwerp crossed on
the Smerle of Liege. Later, around 1825, the Belgium birds were crossed
on the English Dragoon.
Cumulet of Antwerp, is a high flying endurance pigeon that was known to
fly so high that it would disappear from sight. The Smerle or Liege, is
a pigeon that was know for rapid flight over short distances.
Dragoon, is one of three breeds developed in England (the Horseman, the
English Carrier and the English Dragoon), all considered to have
descended from "Bagdad" carriers. The "Bagdad" carrier was known to have
been introduced to England during the 15th century.
lofts founded on Offerman birds were:
H. Cottell of Wood Vale, Forest Hill, supreme champion of the old
Columbarian Society in the south of England.
the four foundation birds of the loft of Charles Thorougood of Sefton,
Liverpool, was a cock number 109083 which was of the Posenaer strain
bought from Offerman. Upon the Thorougood bloodlines, J. Kenyon built
his Black Pieds family and Peter Guy his Scarisbricks family.
When the Posenaer birds were crossed with the Trentons they produced
what was called the Philadelphia Blacks or the Black Diamond strain.
Many of the present day Trentons contain this blood. Black in a Trenton
is almost a sure indication of Posenaer blood).
the greatest English racing pigeons was Excelsior bred by E. E. Jackson
in 1899. The sire to Excelsior was an Offerman.
1889, Conrad crossed in a pair of birds he obtained from a Mr. C.O.
Barrett. This pair was of the Gits and Van Opsal strain and was related
to many champions for Mr Barrett, all 500-mile day birds.
John Caddoo of New York, Conrad used a few Barker birds bred close to
those coming from "Marcia," said to be the greatest producing hen that
1894, Mr. W.B. Ganairants of Newark, NJ sold all of his birds to Conrad.
Included were Noah and Thunder (brothers of “137 Trenton”) and a hen
called Bright Eye, who when mated to “137 Trenton” produced well over 25
– 500 mile day birds. Bright Eye was a niece of “137 Trenton”.
flyers of the time were made famous flying the Trenton blood including
C.W.Oetting, Dr. Schilling, H. Beaches, A. Nemachek, J. Sheppard, J.
Howard, T. Rival, C. Hub, T. Hickey, D. Flynn, and others.
Trenton strain produced many of the first outstanding day-birds at 500,
600, 700 miles. The Indiana Trentons, from 1905 forwards, were regularly
flown out to 1000 miles. In the Pittsburgh, PA area, the Harry Elston
strain (strongly Trenton bloodlines), were flown out to 1300 miles.
A. Mahr, started racing in 1888. In 1898, a fire destroyed his home,
loft and all his birds. Nonetheless, from the birds that were sent out
prior to the fire, the Trenton strain went on to create a lasting legacy
as the foundation of many of the great long distance lofts in the United
of the Trentons
of the following information was obtained from the ATB website.
follows is a reproduction of an article published by the late Otto Meyer
about 1980 which gives a little background on the Trentons and the ATB.
American Trenton Breeders
1. Box 331-B
Heights. Va. 24572
original purpose of the American Trenton Breeders was to promote and
perpetuate the Trenton Strain of racing pigeons. When the ATB was
organized 23 years ago, there were only a very few fanciers who had any
Trentons, and the strain had almost disappeared. Today there are several
hundred fanciers who have at least a few Trentons and some of the
members have nothing but Trentons. This was one of the greatest strains
of pigeons ever in America. Never in the history of pigeon racing has
any strain won as many races as was won by the Trentons. This was during
the early part of the nineteen hundreds and this winning trend went on
for a period of about 25 years. The Trentons made more world records at
the long distances (1000 miles and further) than all other strains
combined. These records were printed in this publication about two and a
half years ago.
who is interested in becoming a member of the ATB is welcome to join.
You are not required to have Trentons to participate in the activities
of the organization. The ATB has encouraged many things to improve our
pigeon society. For a long time a national trophy was awarded each year
to the owner of a 600 mile bird with the fastest speed. A national
trophy was also awarded for the fastest speed at 500 miles. Then came
the 1000 mile classics for which Harold L. Driver was primarily
instrumental in establishing. Eventually these races may become the
National Classics of America.
E. Haffner of Fort Wayne, Indiana is recognized as one of the best 1000
mile racing pigeon experts in the United States.In November 1979 he was
the guest speaker at the Washington State R.P. Organization Convention.
He has permitted me to quote all or any part of his presentation. I am
happy to quote the following parts that will be of special interest to
fanciers who wish to fly some of their birds in the 1000 mile classics:
Fort Wayne Racing Pigeon Club has been in existence and has had young
bird series and old bird series since 1887 or for 92 years. Around the
turn of the century. four or five of the local fanciers ordered direct
from Conrad Mahr four or five pair of his Trentons. It was from these
Trentons blended with Grooters that the Fort Wayne fanciers started
making long distance records, some of which still stand today. During
the period from 1905 thru 1930 the Fort Wayne flyers were flying 2 and 3
1000 mile old bird races and a 1000 mile young bird race, it definitely
required a different type of bird than the Sprinters and Speedsters in
short races where money is the big factor. It required then and still
does today, a bird that comes home on his own initiative and
determination to get home.
Anderson is the oldest living flyer in Fort Wayne. He is 92 years old
and up until a year ago. could tell all about his flying with the Old
Timers in 1902 and 1903. It is rare in a 1000 mile race that two birds
will come together. The 1000
mile world record established in Fort Wayne was
by Dr. Schilling's Blue Checker Trenton, named Hagen, who made the
flight in 2 days, 3 hours, and, some minutes from Abilene, Texas.
Needless to say, the publicity his bird got only gave the local boys
something to shoot for as they all wanted to beat Hagen's world record.
In 1910 Hagen's record was beaten by a Red Slate Trenton cock flown by
Henry Beach. He called his bird 'Abilene'. Henry Beach's bird made the
1000 mile flight in 2 days, 2 hours and some minutes. Needless to say,
Abilene's performance gained a lot of national publicity in pigeon
Beach sold many Trentons and many prominent flyers obtained their first
Trentons from Beach. Among the well known flyers of today who obtained
birds from Beach are Otto Meyer and Art Nemechek.
years later on July 11, 1913, a Blue Checker Trenton-Grooter cross hen
named 'Bullet' homed in Fort Wayne from Abilene, Texas, 1000 miles late
in the afternoon of the 2nd day to the loft of Oscar Anderson, whom I
referred to before. Only a died in the wool pigeon fancier can dream of
the pleasure young Oscar had when his 'Bullet' made the world record in
1 day. 11 hours, and 24 minutes, and 6 seconds making a speed of 1042.54
yards per minute. This was not the first good performance for 'Bullet'
as she had previously flown 500 miles same day two different times. I
might add that Oscar disposed of his last pigeons in May 1979. He said
at 92 it was too hard for him to get up into his second story loft in
1927, the 24th of June, Bullet's record was broken by "Wayne Jr."
another full Trenton bred and flown in Fort Wayne by the late C.W.
Oetting and to the best of my knowledge this record still stands for a
club sponsored race from 1000 miles. Wayne Jr. flew 1005 miles to his
home loft in I day, 10 hours, 22 minutes and 20 seconds, with a speed of
1122.43 ypm. Wayne Jr. was bred down from the Mahr Bright Eye Trenton
strain. Mr.Oetting sold quite a few birds in the 30's and 40's and I am
sure some of his blood lines exist in many lofts around the country.
long after Oetting's record, the Depression of the early 30's came. Hard
times followed & the local club had difficulty in keeping its ranks
together as everyone was pinched for finances. Then the unforgetable war
years from 1941 thru 1945. During the period 1931 till 1945, pigeon
racing all over was at a low ebb. Only short races were flown and rarely
a 1000 mile race.
1948 as an admirer of the 1000 mile performances, I started promoting a
1000 mile race again and it was not until 1953 that our club started
flying the 1000 miles again. and with the exception of a few years. it
has been scheduled as an annual race.
on Thursday, July 3rd our race birds were released at 7 AM Fort Wayne
time. Friday the 4th of July, was a holiday and of course, in as much as
the weather was favorable. I did a lot of looking for a bird. Saturday
morning I had to go to work till 12 o'clock noon. When I returned home
at 12:15 my wife nonchalantly told me she clocked a bird around 10
o'clock. I went into the loft and it was the bird I later called 'Abilene
Jr.' He had flown the
distance in 2 days, 2 hours and 58 minutes. 'Abilene Jr.' was then put
into the Golden Cage and used for breeding only.
1960. two years after Abilene Jr. made the good time. a bird I later
called 'Ditto'. a full brother to Abilene Jr flew from the same 1000
mile station in 2 days. 4 hours. and 59 minutes. 'Ditto' won this race
by a full 24 hours to the next bird home in the club, which was my bird
called 'Spotty'. Spotty flew
from the 1000 mile station a total of five times. During the period from
1958 till 1968, we had birds home almost every year on the 3rd and 4th
1977, we participated in the 1000 mile race from Houston, Texas. This
race has been known as the Atlantic Coast Thousand. We are over the 1000
mile dis- tance so we participated in 1977 and 1978. Lofts from North
Carolina, South Carolina. Virginia. Maryland, Ohio, Michigan, and
Indiana participated. Approximately 35 lofts with 105 to 140 birds were
entered in this event. In 1977, Fort Wayne birds won 2nd and 3rd and in
1978 we won 1st and 3rd. The same 3 birds that in 1977 won 1st 2nd and
3rd came in 1st 2nd and 3rd in 1978 only in a different order. Is it
coincidence, or does this tell us that some birds will come from the
1000 and some just won't? In the last 18 years, I have shipped a total
of 66 birds to 1000 mile race stations and of this total of 66 birds. 48
have returned home. This is quite a good return home percentage.
family of birds which I call my Abilenes are a four way cross - the old
Fort Wayne Trentons, Grooters, Bastins and Bricoux which I myself
brought into Fort Wayne. I found back in the late 40's that this four
way cross gave me everything I wanted in the way of good type and smart
admire long and wide flight feathers which is a characteristic of my
birds. I do not like to ship a bird to the 1000 mile station until it
has been to the 500 and 600, which means it must be in its 4th year of
flying. I do not like to send yearlings to the 500 or 600. only to 275
miles. Then the 3rd year to 500 and 600.
how do I prepare the bird for a 1000 mile flight? The year that I intend
to ship the bird to the 1000 mile race, I only enter it in the first 100
mile race of the season. Then for about three weeks before the 1000. I
try to get the bird or birds to 50 miles about 3 times a week. and feed
them quite heavy so they have good body.
a cock bird on a 10 day old youngster and a hen on eggs about 12 to 14
days. I have had much better results with the cocks at 1000 than the
the United States, popularity of a 1000 mile race seems to be gaining.
More and newer clubs are sponsoring a 1000 mile race each year. In
European countries a 1000 mile race is rare. There have been so many
wonderful performances by fanciers in this country with birds of the
Trenton background, I cannot but help think this All American strain
should get more credit. They definitely have a stronger homing instinct
and will work home from some of these SMASH races all clubs seem to be
respectfully thank my good friend and ATB member, Milton E. Haffner for
per mitting me to quote the above information. Many fanciers will be
happy to broaden their knowledge on the 1000 mile flights to better
prepare them for the American Classics.
Trenton book, "I Kept Them Flying" by Conrad A. Mahr is being reprinted
for the 4th time. It seems to be the best seller of all books.
Trenton Strain Of America
Liam O Comain
: Degrave Martin
written about Belgium, Dutch and British strains of racing pigeons and
ignore a strain formed in the United States of America would perhaps
have illustrated a prejudice which does not in reality exist. Therefore
I have set out in this article to convey to the reader some knowledge
about an undoubtable great strain of long distance racing pigeons - the Trentons.
upon research this famous strain has an input from a fellow Irishman
called McCluthian for
the pigeons of Henri
Soffle coupled with
the latter lay at the basis of the Trenton strain. The latter two
families were crossed by a Belgium émigré to the USA called Gustove
Offerman who settled
in Brooklyn in the eighteen seventies. Offerman had almost instant
success with his family of racers and eventually when he returned to
Belgium the success continued and in due course his family crossed the
English channel to influence the inmates of British lofts. Osserman also
judged in England during this period. Furthermore one of the greatest
English racing pigeons bred by E.
E. Jackson was'Excelsior' and
its sire was an Offerman. Upon his return to Europe Offerman soon
afterwards won a 550 miles race and also took second position. This was
in 1881 and he sold both pigeons a cock and a hen to Fred
Whitly of Newark, New
Jersey. It was from this pairing that 'Trenton' or as he is often called '137
Trenton' was bred. A niece of
the latter with the same bloodlines was 'Bright
Eye' but it required an
intelligent mind to blend both birds together to create the first and
perhaps the greatest long distance strain of the USA. And that mind
belonged to Conrad A. Mahr
who formed what is known as 'The
Great American Strain'.
digress, for a moment, in about 1894, Mr. W.B.
Ganairants of Newark,
NJ sold all of his birds to Conrad
included 'Noah' and 'Thunder' (
both brothers of 'Trenton' ) and the aforementioned '
Bright Eye', who when mated
to 'Trenton' produced approximately thirty 500 mile day birds. Now there
are sources who believe that the Trentons should rightfully be called
the Offerman strain but it is acknowledged by the majority that it was
Mahr who really formed the strain. The latter of good intellect although
lacking in formal education coupled with a very good horse sense and
powerful dedication lay the ground for historic flights of 1000 miles
plus across regions of the American continent. Sadly the bird that was
to give its name to the strain and the first American one perished when
Mahr's loft burned down on September 5, 1898, at 55 Magazine Street,
Newark, New Jersey. As a great dealer however Mahr had sold much of the
Trenton bloodlines and as a result the strain spread like a prairie fire
throughout the land of its origins and indeed beyond.
Belgian fancier called Posenaer had
brought his birds to United States and when some were crossed with the
Trentons they produced a black colour in the Mahr strain. Thus black in
a Trenton is almost a sure indication of Posenaer influence.
look at a few records flights by the Trentons: in July 11, 1913, a Blue
Checker half Trenton known as 'Bullet' homed
into Fort Wayne from Abilene, Texas, 1000 miles late in the afternoon of
the 2nd day to the loft of Oscar
Anderson, a world record in 1 day, 11 hours, and 24 minutes, and 6
seconds making a speed of 1042.54 yards per minute. On the 24th of June,
1927, 'Bullet's' record was broken by 'Wayne
Jr.' a full Trenton
bred and flown into Fort Wayne by C.W. Oetting. 'Wayne Jr.' flew 1005
miles to his home loft in I day, 10 hours, 22 minutes and 20 seconds,
with a speed of 1122.43 ypm. Much has happened since then in relation to
this fabulous strain. In fact one of the great exponents of the Trenton's-
Milton Haffner of Fort
Wayne, Indiana, according to my sources in a period of 21 years sent 79
birds to races of 1,000 mile distances and realized a percentage of 71%-
that is 57 returns.
This is phenomenal! One of the latter a cock named 'Spotty' flew
1,000 miles five times collecting a first and a second with his last
race at the age of nine years old. And today representatives of the
strain continue to cross the one thousand miles barrier. In fact
this great strain of distance racing pigeons went on to create a
lasting legacy as the foundation of many of the great long distance
lofts in the United States of America.
Ed Oshaben passed away November 10, 2002. He wrote the
following story the night before he had his stroke.
The story of Ed Oshaben's True Trentons
with my first Trenton in 1933 at the age of 10. I bought my
first Trenton at the Chicken Market for 35 cents. All I
knew was that it was a Homer. His band number was 456 M-33
AU. He was a Blue Check broad breast with a lot of bronze
on his chest and heavy ceres. I didn't find out much more
until I was 14. I met a pigeon flyer by the name of Stan
Persin, he looked up the bird and we found out it belonged
to a Westside(Cleveland) fancier by the name of John Brigiel.
My older brother drove to John Brigiel's house. He was
very happy to know that I had #456. He told us that someone
stole the birds from him. He not only gave me permission to
keep him but gave me a mate for him and another pair of
Trentons. His Trentons were of the Beach strain. In 1938 I
joined the White City Homing Club in Cleveland and started
to fly. After awhile I purchased some Beach Trentons from a
fancier by the name of Patrick McDonahue from Youngstown,
Ohio. They were the old time Beach Trentons with heavy
ceres and wattles. After I purchased two hens from Art
Nemechek and two Red hens and a Black cock from Otting and
also got three birds from Schumaker which went back to
Connie Mahr. So I have a combination of all the best
Trentons available. All my birds had to fly the 500 each
year. I flew birds in Cleveland for 35 years. I brought
twelve pairs of Trentons with me, all were 500 milers.
Flying here in Lisbon, I made a practice of flying all my
birds in the 500 each year and some went to the 600. Right
now I have a loft of 30 pair of Trentons, one nicer than the
other. They come in Blue Checks, Blue Check Smokes, Slates,
Bronzes, Solid Reds, and Red Mottles, Red Smokes and Slates,
Dunns, Yellows, Blacks, and some colors there are no names
Ed never lost his love to maintain a pure strain of the True
Trenton. He carried strong convictions for the standard of
a True Typical Trenton. Although he ruffled feathers at
times, his point was always proven by the quality of his
birds and by the number of trophies he received at ATB
Pigeon fanciers in as far away countries as Belgium, Japan,
England, Germany as well as Canada and most of the fifty
states have purchased birds from Ed's loft. Many of his
evenings were spent conversing by phone with new and old
pigeon flyers alike, sharing his love and knowledge of
This tribute is in loving memory to a great man. Although
Dad has passed on, he will never be forgotten. All the men
and women who knew him and bought Trentons from him will
continue his legacy with their love for the True Trenton.
History of the Oshaben Trentons written by Ed
submitted by Chuck & Ginny Oshaben