"Barnhart and Son Lofts"? "Not a very imaginative name", you might be thinking, but looking upon our history it certainly makes sense. We actually go way back to the late nineteen-fifties, and the "Son" was always part of it in one way or another. I'll try to explain.
The actual beginning was in 1959, and Harold Barnhart of Tiffin, Ohio, decided to return to the love he developed as a farm boy in Putnam County, when he had a barn full of common pigeons and rejoiced at the sight of a squab that showed evidence of being either white, pied, or anything else that was not the standard run-of-the-mill blue bar or blue check. He no doubt figured it would also be a good pastime for his teenage son who always showed an interest in animals, birds, etc. His stated goal was to get "a couple pair for the kid". He just liked pigeons, plain and simple, and although he travelled with his friend, the late Harold Bour, to several pigeon shows in Ohio, he never exhibited a pigeon and he never became someone who worried about breeding to a show standard. Within a few years he was out of the pigeon fancy entirely.
As you probably have guessed, I was "the kid" he was speaking of, and I'm still at it. We started out with a lot of 50-cent and dollar pigeons back then. Our first "good" pair was a pair of English Trumpeters that cost $3.00. I remember my Dad turning down a good pair of yellow saddle Fantails because the asking price of $6.00 was too high. (And heaven forbid that we even consider that pair of white Show Kings Paul Huffman wanted to sell for ten dollars!) We had a loft full of homers, rollers, trumpeters, and other assorted fancy breeds that had eye appeal, like the 50-cent mismarked red nun and the $1 red baldhead roller cock with the oversized bib. (Dad was always a sucker for a pretty pigeon.) I eventually settled down to raising American Giant Homers, and I raised them for thirty years, eventually showing a cream bar hen that was District Champion at Bay City, Michigan, in 1979. (Actually, looking back on my first few years in pigeons I had a pigeon buddy/best friend who suggested I use the name "Hawkeye Lofts". At the time I was a big fan of American Giant Homers and my buddy said I should call them the "Hawkeye Strain" because they had that menacing look about them. So for a while I billed my loft "Hawkeye Lofts", but that would have made more sense if I lived in Iowa instead of Ohio.) Here's a picture of me about that time (actually 1962), along with an avian friend and my little brother (front) and the neighbor boy.
The most recent "Son" (or actually "sons") are all out on their own at this time and are no longer involved at this location.
Currently I breed Dragoons and Racing Homers. Over the years I have had many different breeds, including Damascenes, Dutch Whiteside Highflyers, Frillbacks, German Beauty Homers, English and Vogtlander Trumpeters, Pomeranian, Brunner and Pigmy Pouters, Jerezano Pouters, Norwich and Dutch Croppers, Nuns, Swiss Mondains, Oriental Frills, Helmets, Saxon Whitetails, Archangels, Swallows, Flying Rollers, Show Kings, Modenas in Gazzi, Schietti and Argent, Vienna Highflyers, Vienna Tumblers, Parlor Rollers, Czech Baghdads, and English Exhibition Homers. Many of these breeds, of course, were kept during my early years in the pigeon fancy, when it seemed necessary to sample as many different breeds as possible. I certainly was never what one could call a "serious" breeder of every one of these breeds listed, but I do claim a good knowledge of most of them.
My main interest is in the genetics of color breeding, both in Dragoons and Racing Homers. This interest can be traced back to two significant events in my life as a pigeon fancier. The first was a visit to the loft of the late Gerhard Hasz of Indianapolis, Indiana, during my freshman year of college. There I saw colors I had never dreamed of, and this sparked my interest. Later I lived for one year in the Akron, Ohio area, and there I met the late Carl Graefe, a self-taught expert on pigeon genetics. It was at his office during discussions with Joe Quinn and Dave Rinehart that I first learned many of the things you'll read about on my genetics page. These three gentlemen, along with Dr. Willard Hollander, with whom I corresponded quite frequently over the years, were my mentors as far as pigeon genetics is concerned. In later years I became acquainted with Dr. Paul Gibson, Ron Huntley, Larry Long, Frank Mosca, Joel and Ray Kinkade, and several other genetics enthusiasts. I am currently trying to sort out some of the various expressions of recessive opal and am investigating a possible new allele of recessive red that has emerged from the red "Hollywood" family of homers.
Occasionally I speak to local groups such as the Boy Scouts, Audubon Society, etc., regarding the hobby and I have been providing ceremonial homing pigeon releases prior to the official start of the annual "Positive Addiction Run" sponsored by the Lima Catholic Schools. In February of 2000 I was retained by the city of Los Angeles to testify as an expert witness on domestic pigeons. Although the case (involving the values of several fancy pigeons that were confiscated by the city as a result of a complaint) was eventually settled out of court, I did provide the city with valuable information that allowed them to defend themselves in the suit and eventually obtain a settlement.