Bicycle and Velociped Transport the Late 19th Century in Cowley County, Kansas


[Note: In the beginning the spelling was different for this conveyance.]

The word "bicycle" often appeared as "bycycle" or some similar form in the Cowley County papers. No one seemed to know what to really call this mode of transportation. Coverage of this item was very scant at first in the local newspapers. MAW


Emporia News, July 23, 1869.

Charley Sipes, as a velocipedestrian, is a success.

Winfield Courier, Friday, May 22, 1874.

The good people of Arkansas City are anxious that the soldiers reunion shall be held at that place on the 4th of July. The Traveler says:

Arkansas City has expressed her willingness to take a part in the reunion, and offers its assistance and warrants amusement if the committee will designate this place for the meeting this year. We should like to welcome, and will do our best to entertain you, with speeches, music, and all the amusements at our command, such as footfall, velocipede races, and Indian war dances.

Winfield Courier, July 27, 1876.

Master Frank Robinson, having returned from the Centennial with a velocipede, is the envied boy of the town.

Winfield Courier, September 14, 1876.

Masters Walter Johnson, Frank Robinson, Dine Johnson, and Ritchie Mansfield each have a three-wheeled velocipede.

Arkansas City Traveler, December 12, 1877.

EDDY's Christmas goods have come in, and the children are flocking in to inspect them. Even the old men and aged ladies go, "just to see them with the child," and we go to get the item. He has every variety of funny things: jumping jacks, squalling babies, tin horses, velocipedes, wagons, sleds, locomotives, besides some interesting and instructive books of poems, story books, pictures, and many things that would make a nice present to our true love, your better half, or the girl of the period.


Believe it or not, this was the very last entry I could find re "velocipedes." MAW


Winfield Courier, June 17, 1880.

No show of this kind has given more general satisfaction than Cole's circus that exhibited in the city yesterday. Monday night the weather had been of an unfavorable character, but it cleared up bright and smiling Tuesday morning, and people came in from all parts of the neighboring country to see the show. It had been well advertised and an expectant crowd awaited the approach of the street procession, thronging the sidewalks. In the afternoon the tent was crowded beyond expectation, all the seats were filled, and many took places on the grass. In the evening the rush was still greater, and all available standing room being occupied, numbers going away. In the two performances there were over 12,000 people in the tent.

The show was well worth the patronage. It is one of the best that has visited Dayton. The features were all of the best character. Their menagerie was well selected. Among the animals was one of the largest of elephants, and the smallest of monkeys, a baby of five days; 2 sea elephants, and lions, and leopards fat and powerful as oxen ready for the market. In the ring the trained stallions elicited much admiration. The leaper Gardner leaped over six camels and three elephants. The second best leaper and the most graceful was Harry Long. He was received with loud applause, and his leaps showed him to be well trained; they were graceful and conducted with the ease of a bird on the wing. Miss Maggie Clair went through a remarkable performance with rings while suspended in mid-air. De Comas, aerial bicycle act was a pleasant novelty and the performing stallions were equally admirable. Mr. and Mrs. Bates, the giants, accompanied the circus, and proved themselves fully up to expectations, the greatest of men and women. In the evening the tent was lighted by a fine electric light. Dayton Journal.




Winfield Courier, December 15, 1881.

The story that Judge Campbell escaped from Caldwell by riding a bicycle all the way to Wichita is a base slander.

Arkansas City Traveler, February 8, 1882.

E. F. Sheldon is the happy possessor of a bicycle, and now employs his spare time in going at a 2.40 gait on two wheels.

Winfield Courier, August 17, 1882.

Correspondence of the "Courier."

TOPEKA, August 5th, 1882.

Probably a true index to the prosperity of the state can be found in the number of students who attend our colleges and higher institutions of learning. The prospects this year for an increased number of students at all the state institutions are very flattering. The correspondence of the State University, we are told, indicates that there will be a larger attendance than ever before and will probably reach 600. The high standing already taken by this institution has won for it the hearty support of all interested in higher education, and it was only owing to the failure of crops last year that the institution did not number over 500. Our institutions of learning are all attended by a great many young men and women who are entirely dependent upon themselves, and any failure of crops is sure to take a great many of these honest and deserving students from the ranks. At least this is so at the State University.

A renewed interest is being awakened in base ball this season. The Westerns have just reorganized and will play the Wichita club August 12.

Arrangements have been made for a Grand Army of the Republic train to run through from Joplin, Missouri, to Topeka to attend the soldier's reunion.

The committee of 38 have adopted a badge for the veterans who attend the reunion, which will be furnished them at nominal prices. State headquarters will be established and a complete system of registering will be adopted so that old soldiers will be able to meet their comrades and friends of former years if they are now living in Kansas. A medal or badge consisting probably of a badge or silver plated star, with a stockade on one side and the coat of arms of Kansas on the other, bearing the inscription, "Presented by the people of Kansas in grateful recognition of services and suffering for the Union, Topeka, 1882," will probably be provided for the ex-prisoners of war and presented to them by James G. Blaine after the address on Friday, September 15th. About fifteen old army songs have been printed and will be sent out to the different posts and military organizations in the state with the request that they be practiced by the old soldiers so that they may come prepared to make the woods ring with song and music. Seventy-five bands have signified their intention to be here, and all other bands that intend to participate should notify D. A. Valentine, Clay Center, Kansas, at once, as he desires to make arrangements for them.

The races this year will close with a grand equestrian stock race for $1,000. The race will be the best three in five mile heats, and thus will be far more interesting and exciting than the fifty mile races last year. Horsemanship and speed will be shown instead of its being a mere art of the pluck and endurance of the rider.

The bicycle tournament will be something new in the West. The amateurs of the state will be out in full force to contest for the silver cap and the championship, and several professionals from the east will be on the grounds and give an exhibition of their skill in the use of this modern instrument of travel.

The new Topeka Opera House will be opened September 11th by the Emma Abbott troupe and will continue throughout the week. This is a very fortunate date, for it will give all those who attend the fair an opportunity to see and hear one of the best artists on the American state. The other theaters will also furnish attractive bills.

An army ration consisting of pressed beef, bacon, rice, salt, granulated sugar, soft bread, hard bread, Boston baked beans, roasted and ground coffee, and candies has been adopted and will be furnished the veterans for 23 cents per ration. The committee find that it will take $5,000 more to complete arrangements for the accommodation of the vast numbers that will be here during the fair, and are now out soliciting subscriptions from the citizens. They will get the money without difficulty. DIXIE.

Arkansas City Traveler, May 9, 1883.

John argues that, "If a two-wheeled vehicle is a bicycle and a three-wheeled a tricycle, a one wheeled ought to be an icicle." But it isn't: it's a wheelbarrow.


Winfield Courier, May 10, 1883.

Since our last, the advent of the festive bicycle marks a new era in the history of our burg, while the demand for court plaster and linseed poultices has assumed astonishing proportions. John Prilliman will have to answer for most of it.

Winfield Courier, May 24, 1883.

Mr. Ed. Whitman, one of J. B. Lynn's clerks, was the victim of a serious accident Tuesday evening. He was riding a bicycle and when turning a corner, one of the foot rests broke, throwing him forward about twenty feet into the street, striking on his head. He was senseless when picked up, and terribly bruised. Physicians were called and he was removed to the residence of Mrs. Aldrich, where he boards. Up to this time he is partially conscious, but friends fear that he will be permanently disabled. Mr. Whitman is a stranger here, having come from Boston some months ago. He is a faithful, diligent young man, and is well liked.

Arkansas City Traveler, July 25, 1883.

A. P. Dorsey and Jim Baxter gave exhibitions in bicycle riding to the amusement of a crowd of spectators at Geuda Springs last Sunday afternoon.


Arkansas City Republican, June 7, 1884.

The new rink of this city will be completed in about a week or ten days. It will be opened by Mr. L. Woodcock, Miss Geneva Chambers, and little Bessie Chambers, champion roller skaters; also Mr. Charles Woodman and Master George Israel, champion bicycle riders of the state. It will be opened in grand style and the gentlemanly managers will do all in their power to make it pleasant for all present. The following rules and regulations will be adopted and enforced.

On entering the rink gentlemen will please remove their hats.

The use of tobacco in the rink is strictly forbidden.

Spitting or throwing any substance upon the floor is dangerous, and will not be permitted.

No person without skates will be allowed on the skating surface.

Not more than two should skate abreast.

Skaters must observe a uniform direction, keeping to the right.

All persons who stop skating before the rink closes will return skates at once to the skate room, and none will be allowed to let other parties use their skates.

Pushing, tripping, racing, tagging, or taking hold of others' garments, or any rude and dangerous actions, are strictly forbidden.

When a march is announced, gentlemen will select lady partners and follow the leader.

THE BELL. The ringing of the bell is to call your attention. More than one ringing is for the skaters to retire from the floor, which should be done at once, and all should keep quiet.

Shouting, whistling, and other rude and boisterous demonstrations are not allowed within, and should be avoided on the streets while going or returning from assemblies, by all who wish to maintain the good name of the institution.

When the time for closing is announced, all skaters will please buckle their skates together, and return them to the skate room.

A cheerful compliance with the above, and a careful regard for the comforts and enjoyment of others is respectfully requested.

Arkansas City Traveler, July 2, 1884.

Bicycle riding is becoming quite a feature of amusement at the skating rink each evening.

Arkansas City Republican, September 6, 1884.

Ed. Kingsbury and Lute Coombs have each purchased an elegant bicycle suit. They made their first appearance last Saturday evening.


Winfield Courier, September 11, 1884.

Our County Fair.

Friday, Sept. 26, will be children's day. On that day all children under fifteen will be admitted free, when accompanied by parents or guardian. Boys and girls riding, also Bicycle riding, and other performances will take place for their special benefit.

Arkansas City Traveler, September 24, 1884.

Fair Notes.

The gold badge for the champion bicycler at the fair is now on exhibition at M. A. Boyer's jewelry store. It is a beauty and will be a most beautiful trophy. The race for it comes off on Thursday afternoon and will be contested by ten uniformed riders. This race will be one of the most novel and interesting of the fair. Courier.


Winfield Courier, October 2, 1884.


Mr. J. T. Orr, who won the gold medal in the five mile race, is one of the fastest, as well as one of the most expert riders in the state. He has been engaged to travel with a large circus next year. His feats of fancy riding at the rink Saturday evening were wonderful.

Harry West, the young bicyclist from Wichita, was unfortunate. His wheel threw him the first heat, bruising him badly. In the second heat he was thrown again, his wheel falling into that ridden by Mr. Page, and completely demolishing it. Mr. Page was quite badly hurt, in addition to the loss of his hundred and fifty dollar bicycle.

Winfield Courier, Thursday, February 19, 1885. Front Page.

The Minneapolis Tribune has arranged the procession for inauguration day as follows.

Thomas A. Hendricks.

Squad of Copperhead Police.

Carriages containing Rev. R. R. Burchard and John P. St. John.


Carl Schurz on foot.

George William Curtis reclining in a gorgeously decorated hearse.

[Note: Paper had "Gawge" William Curtis.]


State Shotgun Guard of Mississippi, 10,000 strong.

Maria Halpin's Glee Club.

Watterson's cross eyed Goddess of Reform, on a Bicycle.

Chairman Barnum in a gilded chariot drawn by seven mules.

Conkling's Brass Band.

Mugwumps in carriages and on horses.

Mugwumps on foot.


Henry Ward Beecher riding two magnificent white stallions.

Stephen Grover Cleveland on foot.

Forty-nine thousand good Democrats with Postoffice petitions.

Winfield Courier, Thursday, April 9, 1885.

Thomas Stevens, the author of a series of papers entitled "Across America on a Bicycle," purposes to make a trip of about 10,000 miles through Europe and Asia on his bicycle this coming summer. He will sail from New York for Liverpool April 9, and mount his bicycle May 1.

Winfield Courier, Thursday, April 30, 1885.

The champion rider on the bicycle at New Orleans is from Topeka, and Kansas farmers took $700 of the $1,000 premiums on Short Horn cattle at the exposition.


Winfield Courier, Thursday, May 7, 1885.

Winfield saw the elephant Friday--in a very different role than ever before, on wheels. If there is anything that does excite admiration in the average heart, it is a view of the elephant, be he white or black. This wonderful, world renowned quadruped proved a splendid drawing card for the rink last night. The building was crowded. At precisely nine o'clock the elephant, accompanied by ring master Cole, entered the arena amid the applause of the audience and rolled around the room as though he had been raised on wheels. Mr. Cole explained that the funnel end of his elephantship was indisposed, nevertheless it was the most unique thing ever presented. He had every appearance of the bona-fide, well-trained article, but our reporter crawled under the canvas of the side-tent just in time to see Merna Pitts and Charley Forgey emerge from the interior of the animal--accounting for its marvelous skill on rollers. The boys also gave an exhibition of trick and team skating, after climbing out of the elephant that was immense. They can't be excelled. Johnnie Hudson and Will McClellan also appeared in the ring in some handsome bicycle riding. Will is just beginning to conquer the wheel, but Johnnie is a thorough champion. His performances last night were equal to any rider that ever struck the west. Altogether, last night's entertainment was one of the best the rink has ever afforded. Lovely music was furnished by the Juvenile Band. The boys are coming right forward. Their new leader, Harry Holbrook, is a thorough musician.

Winfield Courier, Thursday, May 7, 1885.

Winfield, Friday, May 22,



Triple Circus, World's Menagerie, Museum of Living Wonders,

Elevated State, and grand Racing Carnival.

A consolidated colossal creation.

Opening a new and wonderful vista of the most magnificent features of the show world.

In its entirety the most complete on earth, embodying in its overpowering unity many great shows coalesced in one, each separately forming a grand show in itself, while all combined completes the grandest of amusement enterprises. Four to six acts at one and the same time, equestrian, gymnastic, acrobatic, contortionistic, aerial and athletic, executed by a collection of the world's very best artists. Two hundred in number, radiant with such names as

MR. JAMES ROBINSON, The most fearless, dashing and daring bareback rider in the world, whose name has been sounded in both hemispheres by the trumpet-tongue of Fame.

MISS EMMA LAKE, A most graceful and charming lady equestrian, whose performances in the side-saddle on the backs of her trained steeds are actually a poem in motion.

ANDY SWEENEY, The Hercules of the arena.

MR. ROBERT STICKNEY, The most intrepid, courageous and marvelous sachem of the saddle, general athlete and versatile artist living.

PRIMROSE & PRICKETT, High trapezists and their 20 double somersaultists.

MISS VIOLA RIVERS, The equestrian juggler. A charming and beautiful lady rider, who is a perfect model of excellence in aesthetic equestrianism.

GEO. ZURELLA & EMMA DU BOIS, High wire bicycle artists.

PROF. JOSEPH BERRES, And his wonderful dog circus.

MR. JAMES STOW, Equestrian director and wonderful horse rider.

BRAZIL BROTHERS, Wonderful acrobats.

LEOPOLD BROTHERS, Acrobats and gymnasts.

FRANK ASHTON & MDE. TUONSHA, Aerial ring artists.

20 Troupes of Performers on Elevated Stage

In general athletic and calisthenic exercises, forming a constellation of bright stars greater than the united strength of any ten shows in America.


Under the immediate supervision of Prince Ko-Kin-Seg-A-WAO, by permission of the Mikado, consisting of various troupes of Japanese Artists, in sword-walking, balancing and equilibriumistic feats, unequaled anywhere in the world. The only


ever exhibited. The ebon-hued feline wonders of the world. Group of graceful Giraffes. The only giant two-horned Sumatran Rhinoceros ever seen. Whole herds, droves, dens, cages, lairs and vans of Wild Animals. Whole troupes of first class performers. A circus of trained animals, a world of wild ones. While towering above all, and overshadowing the greatest of animated nature stands the giant elephant, Xerxes, whose weight exceeds ten tons, and who carries a band of twenty musicians upon his massive back. Droves of trained zebras, camels, hyenas, dromedaries and a host of others too numerous to mention. Showing a degree of intelligence that is perfectly startling. A monster Arabian Circus and a complete Western wilderness show.

Our grand street pageant, a world of splendor, wonder and sweet sounds. Grand, dazzling and bewilderingly beautiful, many bands of music, many golden chariots, cars and cages. A whole menagerie of wild animals open in the streets.

One ticket admits to all of our entire show. Excursions on all railroads at reduced rates.

Do not miss it!


Wellington, Monday, May 25th.

Winfield Courier, Thursday, June 18, 1885.

A man passing through town on a bycycle attracted considerable attention yesterday, and intended to go on west to Coldwater, if possible. He informed the News that this mode of conveyance beat walking all hollow. Sharon News.


Winfield Courier, Thursday, August 6, 1885.

Willie Doane's fine new bicycle was taken from the barn Sunday and ridden off. A few days ago a young man supposed to be one Alfred Brown was trying Willie's wheel and asking if it could be bought. There has been a second hand wheel at Adam's express office for three weeks consigned to Alfred Brown, from the east, which has never been called for, and this is supposed to be the fellow who got away with Willie's bicycle. He probably couldn't raise the charges on his own. He was tracked west and Sheriff McIntire is after him. Brown is a good rider and will probably be headed only by wire or letter. Willie was getting very proficient on his wheel and this mishap can't be taken with easy grace.

Winfield Courier, Thursday, August 6, 1885.

Sheriff McIntire and A. H. Doane gave Alfred Brown, who appropriated Willie Doane's bicycle, a warm chase Monday. His track was easily scented to Wellington. He told certain parties there that he could make sixty miles a day easily. He got into Wellington at 7 o'clock Monday morning, got a loaf of bread, and sailed off. He was headed for Meade County, where his father and brother are. Sheriff McIntire went west on the S. K. this morning, preceded by telegrams and postals that will undoubtedly stop the rapscallion.

[The typos get worse! They had "Loan's" for "Doane's" in above article.]


Winfield Courier, Thursday, August 6, 1885.

One of Sheriff McIntire's "Stop thief!" cards, describing Alfred Brown, who stole Willie Doane's bicycle, fell into the hands of Harper's marshal, and the Daily Graphic says:

"Officer Barton kept a lookout for the man, and at 5 p.m. the slick man who was described as riding a red bicycle came rolling along Main street going west. When he arrived opposite Barton's store, Marshal Barton stopped him in the middle of the street, arrested him, and took him to the corn crib down in the weed patch for safe keeping until Sheriff McIntire could come for the prisoner. There is little doubt about the prisoner being guilty and stealing the two wheeled horse he rode so well, for as usual in many of such cases the fellow told two stories. He first said that the bicycle was his own; afterwards admitting that it was stolen by a man by the name of Howard, who had hired him to ride it west as far as Anthony, where the two were to meet today. The Marshal agreed to take him to Anthony to meet Howard as per agreement, but the prisoner just then happened to think that Howard might not be there as agreed on, all of which will lead any reasonable mind to the conclusion that Howard was a myth, and the proper thief in jail, and is perhaps guilty of some other crime for which he is wanted. He left Winfield at 11 p.m., Sunday, passed through Wellington at 10 a.m., yesterday, arriving at Harper at 5 p.m. Distance, 75 miles; time, eighteen hours. The prisoner refuses to give his name."

This would have all been very nice if the corn crib down in the weed patch, alias jail, hadn't been rotten. Brown dug out Monday night and vamoosed on foot. Sheriff McIntire is after him again, and will no doubt rake Brown in. The bicycle, of course, was left in the marshal's hands and will be sent home. Willie is happy.

Arkansas City Republican, August 8, 1885.

Sheriff McIntire was out to Harper Tuesday after a bicycle thief. While there he concluded to take in the sights. He visited the drug stores to ascertain how the prohibition law was working. Going in one he saw a sign on a door at the rear of the room, which read "Gents, please pass into the back room." The sheriff passed in and found one man busily engaged in handing out drinks to a crowd, and another filling out statements. After the crowd had gotten all they desired to drink, the man who had been filling out statements remarked, "Now boys, sign up some names to these; it don't make any difference whose they are." They signed and that is the way medicine is obtained in Harper.


Winfield Courier, Thursday, August 13, 1885.

Harper's poor old bastille must feel terribly humiliated from such cruel thrusts as this, from the Harper Daily Graphic: "Well, we do declare! How could a well regulated bicycle thief possibly get out of our all hand sewed and cut bias double-back action cooler down in the weed patch among the bugs, old plows, and harrows? But he is gone--'he is, by gosh!' The supposition is that he leaned a little hard against the front door and fell out backwards into the back yard, and then skipped out, hard heartedly leaving the cooler to lonesomely spend the balance of the night alone. The city should hide that calaboose somewhere until it becomes old enough to sell to the dudes of the next century for a relic, or else sell it for a corn crib, and then buy a 12 x 10 wall tent to confine the prisoners in. The sun would roast all sins out of the prisoners, and they would soon be too weak to escape, or they would not wish to, soon becoming infatuated with the summer resort on the inside, and they would really be ashamed to escape from such a prison."

Winfield Courier, Thursday, August 13, 1885.

Sheriff McIntire came in from Harper Wednesday--with Willie Doane's bicycle, but without Brown, who broke out of Harper's corn-crib jail--a little wooden thing that wouldn't hold a mouse--and skipped. He will likely round up in Mead County, where his father and brother live. Sheriff McIntire has got a trap on the scent and will soon bring Brown in.

Winfield Courier, Thursday, August 13, 1885.

"It is not impossible that the stealing of bicycles will soon become a more common crime than horse-stealing," remarks the Wichita Beacon. "One has lately been stolen in this city, and in Winfield the COURIER reports that a fine new bicycle was taken from a barn and ridden off. In the latter case it is supposed the young thief is known. He has been tracked west, and the sheriff is after him, but as the thief is a good rider, he is likely to escape unless the electric wires can head him off. A good bicycle is worth from $60 to $140, and cost as much as the average horse, and though not so much in demand, or so salable, it has the advantage of being easily concealed. Owners of bicycles should see that their vehicles are safely secured when not in use.

Arkansas City Republican, February 20, 1886.

A good audience was drawn to Crawford's opera house last evening to witness the initial performance in Topeka of the "Jolly Voyagers" combination, headed by the celebrated Stirk family. The performance of the two adult males, Mrs. Stirk, and two little Stirks (the youngest, four years of age), were simply wonderful. They are the acknowledged leaders in trick and fancy bicycle riding, and have traveled with Barnum's and Sells's circuses. The performance as a whole was well received, and without a desire to slight their support, it must be said that the Stirk family deserve the greatest praise, and their stunts alone are worth going to see. Topeka Capital.

The above Company will appear in Highland Opera House next Thursday evening.

Arkansas City Republican, June 5, 1886.

Funny Things To See.

Frank Barnett riding his bicycle.


Arkansas City Republican, Saturday, June 19, 1886. From Thursday's Daily.

Probably the worst scare a horse can receive is when a bicycle comes gliding along aside of him. Only last evening a representative of the REPUBLICAN saw two ladies out driving when one of those "infernal machines" came noiselessly up beside the horse. It was with the greatest of difficulty they kept him from running away. In most cities to ride a bicycle on the main thoroughfare of the city is a finable offense. Perhaps, after these machines have been the cause of a runaway, the same law will be in effect in Arkansas City.

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