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.
Conrad 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.
The 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.
"Ship 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.
The 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.
The 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.
Other lofts founded on Offerman birds were:
Mr. W. H. Cottell of Wood Vale, Forest Hill, supreme champion of the old Columbarian Society in the south of England.
One of 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.
(NOTE: 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).
One of the greatest English racing pigeons was Excelsior bred by E. E. Jackson in 1899. The sire to Excelsior was an Offerman.
In 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.
From 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 ever lived.
In 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”.
Many 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.
The 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.
Conrad 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 States