The Wilmington Bicycle Club
In May of 1896, about twenty riders met to organize a bicycle club in Wilmington. The organizers agreed that the club would consist of male and female riders, and that potential membership was at least one hundred riders. They proposed to have two clubs runs a week and that a simple uniform be adopted.
A week later, a permanent bicycle club was organized. Officers elected were: Orange Frazer, President; Josie Fife, Treasurer and Miletus Garner, Road Captain. The official name became “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 Sunday a ride to neighboring towns with arrangements for dinner at a hotel. The membership was now forty-two: Mrs. Libbie C. Bennett, Mrs. Mattie Cole, Misses 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 Frazier, 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 camp, with a maroon sweater and brown leggings as the official uniform.
The club organized road race for Thursday, September 17, starting at 2:00 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, 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.
At l: 00 p.m. a parade was scheduled for all wheelmen in town, led by the Wilmington Military Band. The club making the best appearance was to be awarded a silver cup. The best lady rider in the parade was to be presented a silver spoon. An open air concert by the Wilmington Band was scheduled for that evening.
Thursday, September 16, deemed Bicycle Day, was a great success. There were 103 bicycles in the parade. Kate Merriman, delivery clerk at the post office, was awarded the prize for the best lady rider. Fourteen had entered for the race, but only eleven were starters, representing Wilmington, Washington CH, New Burlington, Xenia, Port William, Morrow, Hillsboro and Cuba. C.C. Rooney of New Burlington finished first; J. R. Kilgour of Wilmington second; and W. H. Hettescheimer of Washington CH finished third. The actual course was twenty-seven miles and was run in eighty-four minutes. One rider fell and one knocked over a man, but no serious injuries were reported.
Will and Frank Brindle, members of the Wilmington Bicycle Club