Thelma Snyder Collection
In 1978, Thelma Snyder, publisher and editor of the American Racing Pigeon News, was asked to become a director and serve as president. Thelma was well thought of by all pigeon fanciers.
Thelma retired from publishing the American Racing Pigeon News and sold the magazine. The News was founded in 1885 and purchased by her Grandfather, Charles F. Hoser in 1892. Hoser was one of those attending the organizational meeting of the AU in 1909. His publication was then called The Homing Exchange, but he changed the name to The American Racing Pigeon News in 1911.
Thelma was one of the founders of the American Pigeon Fanciers Council, along with Frank Hollman, publisher of the American Pigeon Journal, and served as its Secretary for many years. In 1979, she was given the AU Hall of Fame award for individuals.
In 1995 she shipped her library to the Center, including a complete bound set of the American Racing Pigeon News, many other books and memorabilia including statuary and other art works that she had collected or had been given to her from admirers from around the world. They were appraised at $40,000.
Charles Heitzman Collection
Charles Heitzman of Louisville, KY received his first pigeons when only 10. His first club flying was done in 1912 and he was 2nd in the race. A prominent businessman in the bakery industry in Louisville, Heitzman was able to start importing pigeons very early in his career. In 1919, Heitzman imported a pair of birds from Mr. J. W. Toft of Liverpool, England for $150, a rather sizable sum at that time. Heitzman continued to import pigeons. In 1922, he imported a several Logans with which he also had great success.
Most Americans know Heitzman for his Sions and Stassarts. He imported the Sions in 1931 and he began with 17 birds bred by Paul Sion himself. In 1934, he brought in his first Stassarts, and by 1945 had 11 birds bred by Mons. G. Stassart, including several of his champions. Heitzman’s birds were successful for others as well, and he was one of the first fanciers to publish strain books. His books The Heitzman Sions and The Stassart Strain, besides his Youngbird Methods and Lofts for Racing Pigeons were classics in the sport.
Heitzman was especially proud of his library collection. He built a separate library and trophy room which was 30 feet long and 14 feet wide and was touted to have one of the most complete racing pigeon literature collections in America. The Heitzman library was offered to the University of Louisville but that library was only interested in the bound works. The remainder of the collection was donated to the AHPI in 1988.
E. Lang Miller Collection
Edwin Lang Miller was born in Buffalo, NY on August 25, 1887. He became one of Buffalo’s leading financiers and industrialists and was also prominent in local politics. He was president of Wright-Hargreaves Gold Mines, Ltd, a leading mining company in Canada and also director of the Liberty Bank of Buffalo. He served as president of the Grosvenor Library and the Erie County Parks Commission. He was tapped as a trustee of the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority as well as the Millard Filmore Hospital. He was also a member of the Council of the University of Buffalo and a member of the Advisory Committee of both the Community Chest and the Catholic Charities of Buffalo.
Miller graduated from Georgetown University where he played varsity football, baseball and was on the track team. Besides racing pigeons, he raised thoroughbreds, and even owned two sons of Man O’ War. He engaged in horse showing with his children.
In 1895 he acquired his first pigeons, a tumbler and a tippler. In 1900 his father, who was president of one of the largest breweries in New York, was presented with several pair of homing pigeons by one of his saloonkeepers and the younger Miller began active racing. In 1902, Miller won his first diploma, and in 1904 was 2nd and 4th in the Western New York Concourse Association Race, comprising fanciers from Buffalo, Rochester, Jamestown, Niagara Falls and other West New York towns.
After graduating from Georgetown, he traveled to Europe and acquired several pair of Wegges. Miller later acquired some A. H. Osmans, a British strain, and the Wegge/Osman crosses became the foundation of his loft. He bragged that he went 25 years without a cross.
Mr. Miller’s strong forte was long distance racing — the 500s and 600s. He flew 600 miles for 38 years. In the Grand International 600 Mile Championship, the premier long distance race in the first half of the 1900s which pitted American and Canadian fanciers against each other, he had an average position 6th over the course of 20 years against an average birdage of 600 to 1000 pigeons. He won the race on more than one occasion.
Miller was so dominant in long distance racing that in one season in 1920, the Greater Buffalo Combine flew four 500 miles races. Miller won all four. That same year, he won 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 1000 mile Combine Championship race. Several of Miller’s birds won 400 and 500 mile youngbird races.
In 1973, Edwin Lang Miller’s entire library and breeding records were the first major materials donation to the American Homing Pigeon Institute, under whose auspices the World of Wings exists.
Doc’ Hollander is known throughout the world for his research. His love of pigeons would be the focus of his life’s work: genetics and variations in feather colors of the pigeon. He taught and conducted research at Iowa State University for 40 years.
His family graciously donated his collected works to the museum which includes his papers, publications, books and his natural history collection.
Otto Meyer was commissioned as a major into the US Army military service in 1940. He quickly rose in rank and responsibility to become the Commander of the US Army Pigeon Service in WWII service. He was put in charge of the world wide breeding and training program. He is also known for his love of Trentons which he raised.
The museum is honored to have received his collection of military and personal papers and objects from his family.