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<Bicycles, Cyclist, Cycling, Wheelmen>

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Ball, Richard
Birth Year : 1874
Richard Ball was an amateur cyclist from Louisville, KY. He was one of the competing African American cyclist in Kentucky, and said to be one of the fastest. In 1899, he went to Indianapolis to compete in a race. Ball was employed as a waiter at the Galt House Hotel [source: Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1898, p.116]. Richard Ball was born in Tennessee, the son of Mary Ellis, and he was the husband of Maggie Ball [source: 1900 U.S. Federal Census]. His past time as a cyclist, then called a wheelman, was not a main source of income for Richard Ball. In Louisville, colored wheelmen belonged to the Union Cycle Club, said to be the largest African American cycling club in the South [source: Ethnicity, Sport, Identity edited by J. A. Mangan and A. Ritchie, p.20]. Colored wheelmen were barred from membership and from participating in events sponsored by the Louisville Wheelmen, and from membership to the League of American Wheelmen (L. A. W.). The color line was an issue that came up at the biannual 1894 L. A. W. Convention held in Louisville, KY; Louisville attorney, Colonel William W. Watts, put forth the motion that would limit L. A. W. membership to whites only. The vote was split 108 for, 101 against, but a two thirds majority was need, so the motion was brought forward the following year and it passed. In June of 1894, the L. A. W. chairman explained that the vote had only denied Colored wheelmen membership, not the right to participate in L. A. W. sponsored races, nor did it impact a cyclist's amateur status. For more see Richard Ball in the column "Spokes from a wheel" on p.2 of the Indianapolis Recorder, 06/17/1899; Highway History: The Road to Civil Rights, The League of American Wheelmen, a Federal Highway Administration website; and "Colored wheelmen may race," The Roanoke Times, 06/15/1894, p.2 [article available online at Chronicling America].
Subjects: Migration North, Bicycles, Cyclist, Cycling, Wheelmen
Geographic Region: Tennessee / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Bicycle Clubs (Wheelmen), Louisville, KY
Start Year : 1894
In 1894, the Union Cycle Club in Louisville, KY, had 25 members and was said to be the largest African American cycling club in the South. These were the sentiments of William W. Watts, who was speaking to the League of American Wheelmen at the 1894 convention held in Louisville, KY. Watts, a Louisville lawyer, read a letter that supposedly was written by the Union Cycle Club president, Frederick J. Scott, in support of Watts' stand to deny African Americans membership to the League of American Wheelmen [source: Ethnicity, Sport, Identity, edited by J. A. Mangan and A. Ritchie, p. 20]. See also the NKAA entry for Richard Ball. In 1899, the Booker T. Washington Cycle Club at Allen Chapel A. M. E. Church made their first annual appearance on January 25 [source: "Personal Mention," Recorder, 01/07/1899, p. 4]. The club held its meetings at 409 N. West Street in Louisville [source: "Personal Mention," Freeman, 06/17/1899, p. 8]. The first national colored bicycle tournament was held at Brotherhood Park in St. Louis, MO, June 1890 [source: "Ten thousand people witnessed...," in the article "A bob-tailed cur," Cleveland Gazette, 07/26/1890, p. 1].

  • Union Cycle Club (1894?)
  • Booker T. Washington Cycle Club, Allen Chapel A. M. E. (1899)

Subjects: Bicycles, Cyclist, Cycling, Wheelmen
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Bridges, Travis
Birth Year : 1862
Pvt. Travis Bridges, from Mt. Sterling, KY, was one of the twenty soldiers in Company H, 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps in 1897. Starting on the 14th of June, the men rode bicycles 1,900 miles from Ft. Missoula, MT, to St. Louis, MO, arriving the 24th of July. Bridges' name was submitted by Mike Higgins, who has an entry for Travis Bridges in his blog, 25th Bicycle Corps. Pvt. Travis Bridges was discharged from the Army without honor on November 1, 1897, according to the U.S. Army Register of Enlistments. He was rated as a good soldier from his first enlistment in 1885 up to the date of his final discharge.
Subjects: Bicycles, Cyclist, Cycling, Wheelmen
Geographic Region: Mt. Sterling, Montgomery County, Kentucky

Rout, Richard
Birth Year : 1861
Death Year : 1905
Richard Rout was born around 1861 in Stanford, KY, the son of Judy [or Juda] Rout. In 1891, he re-enlisted in the U.S. Army in Cincinnati, OH, on December 8 [source: U.S. Army Register of Enlistments]. He had previously enlisted in November of 1886, serving with the 25th Infantry. He enlisted again the 12th of December 1896, at Ft. Harrison, MT. Rout was one of the twenty soldiers in Company H, 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps. In 1897, starting on the 14th of June, the men rode bicycles 1,900 miles from Ft. Missoula, MT, to St. Louis, MO, arriving the 24th of July. They were testing the bicycles as a mode of transportation for troops. According to an article in the National Baptist World newspaper, the bicycle had been considered a failure for Army purposes in 1894, based on tests in Germany, France, and Austria. But in 1897, Lt. James A. Moss was given the mission of leading 20 soldiers on the 1,900 mile trip; Lt. Moss's final report would be a factor as to whether the U.S. Army would form a Bicycle Corp or not. Richard Rout and his fellow soldiers completed the journey, but a bicycle corp was not formed. Rout was still in the Army in 1898, Company H, 25th Infantry, stationed in Ft. Missoula, MT, according to a newspaper article; Richard Rout had written a letter to his sister, Annie Rout Myers Saulter, in Stanford, KY, saying that he was getting ready to go to war and his company would be marching to Dry Tortugas [source: see "Richard Rout" in article "Added Local," Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, 04/01/1898, p. 2, column 2]. The orders were changed and the unit went to Cuba. Richard Rout was discharged from the Army Jun 17, 1899 at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, and he was noted as an excellent corporal [source: U.S. Army Register of Enlistments, 1896, p.43]. According to his death certificate #283, Richard Rout was born in 1861, and he had been employed as a porter prior to his death from hepatitis at St. Mary's Hospital in Tucson, AZ, on September 20, 1905, and he was buried in the Citizens Cemetery in Prescott, AZ. [From 1864-1933, both veterans and civilians were buried in Citizens Cemetery which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.] In addition to his sister, Annie Rout Myers Saulter (1865-1911), Richard Rout's other siblings were Jessie Rout Myers (1859-1915) and Susan Rout (b. 1853) [sources: 1870 U.S. Federal Census and Kentucky Death Certificates]. For more see Richard Rout in On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier II, by I. Schubert and F. N. Schubert; "Pvt. Richard Rout," Riders of the Bicycle Corps blog, and an overview of 25th Bicycle Corps; see "25th Infantry Regiment Bicycle Corps" the daily account on pp. 28-38 in Black Warriors, by A. E. Williams; The Bicycle Corps: America's Black Army on Wheels, a PBS Home Video; and "A failure: the bicycle not a success for Army purposes - test made in Europe," National Baptist World, 11/09/1894, p. 3.

See photo image of the 25th Bicycle Corps at the blog site.
Subjects: Migration West, Military & Veterans, Bicycles, Cyclist, Cycling, Wheelmen
Geographic Region: Stanford, Lincoln County, Kentucky / Fort Missoula, Montana / Saint Louis, Missouri / Tucson, Arizona

Taylor, Gilbert and Saphronia Kelter
The Taylors, Gilbert and Saphronia (d. 1897), from Louisville, KY, were the parents of Marshall Walter Taylor, "The Colored Cyclone." Marshall Taylor (1878-1932) was a champion cyclist; he won the annual one mile track cycling championship in 1899, 1900, and 1901. Marshall was nicknamed "Major." He was born outside Indianapolis, IN, where his parents had migrated from Kentucky. Gilbert Taylor served in the Union Army. For more see Major Taylor: the extraordinary career of a champion bicycle racer, by A. Ritchie; and Major Taylor Association, Inc. website.
Subjects: Fathers, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Mothers, Bicycles, Cyclist, Cycling, Wheelmen
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

 

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