Tom Swan Loft - Racing Pigeons


THE SCHOFIELD STRAIN -  May, 2012 by Tom Swan

In The Beginning                                                                                                        In 1922 shortly after he moved to his lifetime home in Morrisville, Pa. a neighbor gave F. T. (Fats) Schofield some pigeons to get him started in our wonderful pastime.  Over 90 years later, fanciers in Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Florida and I am sure many other parts of the world still covet this family of birds known simply as "The Schofields".  Those original birds were from a very good pair of Chadwick Hansennes and from stock known as the "Day Blues".  The birds of today still trace back to those original birds.

     While many other "American" strains or families have faded in popularity in recent years, the Schofields are more popular than ever.  In the 2005 IF Convention Race where there were only 28 day birds, 3 of the top 16 birds were of Schofield descent and all 3 from different breeders.  While most other home grown families in the USA were based on success at the 500 and 600 mile old bird races, the Schofields have excelled in the 300 and 400 mile YB Futurity races in addition to winning out of turn in the long distance old bird races.  Fats also had more of a European mindset in keeping his family competitive.  If good birds were available to improve performance, they were added without regard to "strain".  If the new bird or birds did not work out, they and all of their kin were eliminated.  One very notable addition was a Dark Check HVR cock from Ronnie Boll of New Jersey that was loaned to Fats by Allan Hughes of New Year Loft.  Over the years, Fats and Allan exchanged many birds.  At one point in the 1970's when Fats had unsuccessfully tried racing some birds from imports, several key New Year Loft breeders were loaned to Fats to get some of the old type back.

     Many of the Schofield winners in the 1980's were bred dwon from the "$300 Hen" and the "Cheap Hen" that he acquired from Dr. Friedman.  The Legend of the Schofields is enhanced by some of the distinguishing characterictics of the family.  Many of the birds are heavily feathered on their legs and feet, "booted", and many also display telltale white tail feathers.

Futurity Spotlight

     Fats was a top competitor in the Futurity races his entire life, but the spotlight really started to shine on him in the 400 mile Newark (De.) futurities of 1980, 1981 and 1982.  In 1975 Fats started Bob Fletcher (flying as Country Loft) out with aa team of Schofield young birds.  Flying almost exclusively birds from Fats, Country Loft Won 1st and 2nd in the 1980 Newark Futurity; 5th and 13th in the 1981 race and 2nd in the 1982 race.  Fats himself won 1st in the 1982 race.  400 mile Futurities had become the rage and so had the Schofield family of birds.  The Schofields were also cleaning up in the 300 mile futurities.  Country Loft won 3rd and 4th in the 1977 Central Jersey Futurity and 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 1978 Greater Western Combine Futurity.  He had birds in the top 5 of 5 different Futurities for several years running.  In 1973, Fats won 1st, 2nd, 5th, 8th, 12th and 18th in the GWC Futurity (over 200 Lofts and nearly 2,000 birds).  As a note of interest, Frank Viola acquired birds from most of Fats' best breeding pairs.  A short time later Frank started the well known "Frank Viola 400 Mile Futurity in New York City".  Nothing like having the inside track on the top 400 Mile Futurity birds available.

Others Join In

     Fats kept only a few pair of breeders and raised less than 40 young birds and generally had no more than 30 old birds.  Nevertheless, you could generally find birds available from him and at very reasonable prices.  This was especially true if you wanted some late hatch youngsters.  Many successful flyers in the area were put on the map with these YB purchases from Fats. 

The Auctions

     A landmark day in the Schofield pigeon family history took place on February 10, 1985.  The entire stud of Schofield birds at Country Loft were sold at Auction.  Many of the key breeders and racers of the Master himself resided at Country Loft at that time.  I was used to going to these type events and finding perhaps one or two birds fit to go in the breeding loft.  Here, almost every bird seemed to be of Foundation Quality.  Some of the standout birds I took note of were IF 78 GWC 4036 - Blue Pencil Hen - Winner of the GWC Futurity and already the Dam of a Combine Winner for New Year Loft;  IF 78 GWC 3900 - Dark Pied Hen - the hen to his #1 Breeding pair; and IF 80 NEW 952 - Dark Pied Hen - daughter of 3900 and 2nd place winner in the Newark Futurity, 1st Place in the Boothwyn Bond Race and 4th Place IF Hall of Fame.  In all, 62 birds were sold at the Auction realizing over $7500. 

     Former AU President, Frank Greenhall, served as auctioneer at the Country Loft Auction and came home with several key birds of the Schofield family.  A short time later, Frank sold all his birds when he moved from Delaware to New York.  Frank had the cock to the Country Loft Foundation Pair (IF 73 QCF 1716 - bred by Fats from New Year Lofts, "Valiant").  Frank mated this cock to IF 83 GPF 1463 - 2nd place Winner in the GPF Futurity.  A youngster from this pair (AU 85 WIL 2051) became the Foundation Breeder for the Tom Swan Loft.  My other acquisition at the Greenhall auction was IF 84 NEW 2925 - Dark Blue Hen.  This hen was also from the Country Loft Foundation cock when he was mated to IF 78 GWC 4036 (the GWC Futurity Winner and my old favorite from the Country Loft Auction).

     Despite this dispersal of many of the key Schofield breeders, Fats himself hit upon another outstanding breeding pair.  The cock was IF 81 TD 868 and the hen was IF 81 GWC 56.  56 was bred from the #1 Country Loft Pair and had won 5th place IF YB Hall of Fame.  868 and 56 bred the 1982 Newark Futurity Winner and bred multiple 500 Mile Diploma Winners year after year.

     After many years of battling with arthritis, Fats had the dispersal auctiion of his remaining birds in 1991.  I was able to buy his remaining top two breeding pairs.  the hen to his #1 pair was from 868 and 56 mentioned above, and the cock to the #2 pair was from 2 of his great long distance racers (IF 76 GWC 4706 and IF 75 GWC 3897).  Subsequent to the Schofield auction, I was able to purchase a key breeding hen that Fats had given to his friend and former partner, Norm Krier.  Then, prior to the dispersal of the John Glemser Loft of Schofields in 1998 I was able to purchase 3 of his Schofields that were Long Distance Combine Winners.  The entire loft of Glemser Schofields were sold at auction with over $10,000 realized for just over 100 birds.

     Bred down from my original acquisitions (2051 and 2925) was the Super Foundation Breeder - AU 93 NEW 3300 - Blue Pencil Cock.  His direct descendents have Won as follows:

1st Combine 600 Miles Day of Toss

1st & 2nd Joint Combine 600 Miles Day of Toss

1st Newark Futurity (43 minutes in front)

1st Belleville One Loft Classic (19 minutes in front)

6th Place 2005 IF Conventioon Race

2nd Place Purgrain Gold Band Futurity

3rd Place 500 Mile Joint Combine Day of Toss

1st Combine 200 Miles

1st Combine 300 Miles

1st & 2nd Combine 200 Miles

3rd Club 500 Miles

Many other Diploma positions in both Club and Combine and many Foundation Breeders   

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