Throwback to Wilmington Bicycle Club

News Journal

Last week’s Throwback Thursday photo was of the Wilmington Bicycle Club. We thank Jennifer Hollon, who provided information on it from research done by her and Kay Fisher:

“In May of 1896, about twenty bicycle enthusiasts met with the idea of organizing a bicycle club in Wilmington. The group agreed that the club would consist of male and female riders, and that potential membership could be as high as one hundred. They proposed to have two club runs a week and that a simple uniform be adopted.

“A week later, a permanent bicycle club was officially organized. Officers elected were: Orange Frazer, President; Josie Fife, Treasurer, and Miletus Garner, Road Captain. The official name became the ‘Wilmington Bicycle Club’. The initiation fee was set at twenty cents for males and no charge for females. Plans were to ride every Tuesday evening and on Sundays a ride to neighboring towns with arrangements for dinner at a hotel, weather permitting.

“The membership was now forty-two: Mrs. Libbie C. Bennett, Mrs. Mattie Cole, Miss Josie Fife, Katie Merriman, Genie Walker, Ethel Sparks, Hattie Taylor, Edith Peters, Elizabeth Shrieves, Stella Owens, Edith K. Rannells, Lucile Walker, Hattie Jones, Ruth Lewis, Messrs. Orange Frazer, C.A. Rannells, Miletus Garner, H.E. Hoskins, C. W. Lewis, J.M. Champlin, Will L. Palmer, Granville Wallace, Weldon Shepherd, Will K. Brindle, Richard Bell, J.W. Sparks, J.M. Lewis, Tom Ferguson, Oscar Gilbert, Marshal Sayres, H.C. Taylor, F.G. Williams, Joe M. Walker, Charles Cast, Harvey Rodecker, Will G. Fisher, Oliver Styerwalt, C.C. Terrell, R.C. Lawhead, N.E. Bennett, Charles Toops, and Newton Lewis.

“In June 1896, the club adopted a tan suit and cap, with a maroon sweater and brown leggings as the official uniform.

“The wonderful photo of the wheelmen and wheelwomen was taken by landscape photographer Cliff McCoy on Tuesday, June 23, 1896. In the picture, president of the club, Orange Frazer is standing at the far right. It is interesting to note the young boy who is listed as “Henry Taylor, #23, Lil’ Hen,” was one of the younger participants. School records list Henry as a pupil at Midland School and in that year being promoted from Intermediate to D Grammar (ages 10-14). The ladies in their long skirts must have been challenged by their attire, far different from today’s sports wear.

“One special bicycle day event was a road race for Thursday, September 17, starting at 2 p.m. from the Odd Fellows corner over a course leading out Locust Street and the New Vienna pike direct to New Vienna, through that village north to the Lexington pike, and return to Wilmington through New Antioch over Locust Street to the starting point, a distance of twenty-five miles. The winner of the race was to be awarded a diamond stud worth $50; second prize, overcoat at $25; third, a set of tires $15; fourth, a bicycle lantern $5; fifth, sweater $3; and sixth a cyclometer $2 value. All riders in Clinton, Greene, Warren, Clermont, Brown, Highland and Fayette counties were eligible to enter…”

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