"...the Passenger Pigeon was the most impressive species of bird that man has known. Elegant in form and color, graceful and swift of flight, it moved about and nested in such enormous numbers as to confound the senses."
A. W. Schorger
The Story of one Passenger Pigeon
Part 1: My Search begins!
Thus I began my search. I was unable to reach Norm Kasavage by phone but I was able to determine that he still resided at the same address as on the shipping receipt. So I wrote to him, and told him that I now owned the bird and had obtained it from Geo. Puth whom he had sold it to. I inquired as to how he, Kasavage, had obtained it. Much to my delight, Norm telephoned me after he received my letter. He was so surprised to hear from someone who now owned the bird, after all these years. He was very eager to tell me what he knew.
Norm received the bird as a gift in 1974 from his friend, George Schwimmer of Detroit Michigan. He knew that George had inherited the Passenger Pigeon from his father. Norm said that George had never told him any additional history or other information. Furthermore, George had died in 1978. After that time Norm lost contact with the family. He did not know the names nor whereabouts of any surviving Schwimmer relatives. That was all of the information he was able to provide.
Norm was unfamiliar with the 651 Bates Street, Birmingham Michigan address. In fact, much to my amazement, neither Norm Kasavage nor George Puth had ever noticed the writing on the back of the case during all of the years they possessed the bird. (I found it in the first 10 minutes)
Part 2: Never underestimate who can help!
My search continued in Birmingham, Michigan, where I met Karen Ansley Krugman. What I time saver!! I really have to thank Karen for her help in tracking down the dates of the residents who occupied 651 Bates Street. Karen works on genealogy and resides in Birmingham. She was instrumental in learning the correct spelling of original name, Schwimmer not Schummer, and the dates when the Schwimmer family occupied the Bates Street residence.
The first name she discovered was that of Edwin Swhwimmer who occupied the house at 651 Bates Street . He died in 1958. After that time the name Edward Schwimmer was attributed to the address. She did not find any reference of George Schwimmer.
Once I had that information, I obtained the names of the Schwimmer families in Michigan of which only 4 were listed. I made one phone call and low and behold once I told the lady who answered what I was searching for, she said "you need to speak with my father Edward Schwimmer", and proceeded to give me his phone number.
Part 3: The History begins to unfold!
I phone and spoke to Edward Schwimmer, the grandson of Edwin C. "Skipper" Schwimmer (1880-1958). Edward vividly remembered the Passenger Pigeon hanging on the wall in the hallway of the house at 651 Bates Street. He had grown up in that house "and saw that bird every day of his childhood." I learned from Edward that George Schwimmer (friend of Norm Kasavage) was his father and of course Edwin C. Schwimmer was his grandfather.
George Schwimmer had inherited the bird upon his fathers death. Edward told me that his grandfather, "Skipper" Schwimmer, as he was known by friends, was a pioneer photographer and documentary maker. He traveled extensively throughout the US and the world and he was an avid collector of natural history items. Much to my delight Edward's mother, Helen, now 92, wife of George, was sitting right there as Edward and I spoke. When I asked if he knew how his grandfather had acquired the Passenger Pigeon, he turned and asked his mother. She replied, that she thought he purchased the bird about 1940, on one of his many trips thoroughout the US. She thought perhaps somewhere in the southern part of the US, while on a trip to Florida, but she was not certain. Unfortunately she did not have any more precise information of its origin. Edward then told me that his mother is the last survivor of the generation that would have had any knowledge about the Pigeons origin.
It would appear that the only person who could have provided more information was the grandfather, Edwin Schwimmer who died in 1958. Oddly, neither Edward nor his mother had any knowledge of what had become of the Passenger Pigeon, until I phoned them. It was a truly a great conversation, and I could tell we were all filled with excitement.
Update, I was contacted by a George Schwimmer II and provided the following interesting information.
He wrote: here is a photo of my grandfather, Edwin. [grandfather ( Edwin Christan Schwimmer) on the right. His oldest son ( Paul Vernon Schwimmer) in the middle and my father (Edward George Schwimmer) on the left. It was taken in the early 50's at his cottage in Canada where we spent a lot of time as kids.)
The house at 651 Bates Street. Here's a picture of the house, It was taken in the 60,s and your pigeon was just inside our front door behind that elm tree. ....George
Onward to PAGE 3 to read the final tale and to see photos of George!
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