From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
The group photograph is of a contingent of Leavenworth cyclists, members of a national organization known as the Leas of American Wheelmen. It consisted in the year 1887, or sixty four years ago, of about twenty-five local "bike" riders. It was taken in front of a massive oak treet that stood at the northeast corner of what, in those days, was known as the Main Parade, at Fort Leavenworth.
The building to the left and rear, even to this day, is in good condition and now occupied as officer's quarters. Is was the office and living quarters of Andrew H. Reeder, first territorial governor of Kansas Territory, who arrived there October 7, 1854. He made Fort Leavenworth the seat of the firt government of Kansas, and the Post the first territorial capital.
The cycling organization, on holidays and Sunday afternoons, made trips to the Fort, Lansing, and, when the roads were in condition for such forays, visited Platte City and Weston. Seldom, however, did the wheelmen in a body make such incursions into the unknown territory about the county. It was no joy ride to Lansing because there were no paved highways in those days. Individually, local cyclists occasionally visited Kansas City, Kas., Lawrence and Atchison, but such round trips seldom could be made in a day's time.
Unfortunately the means of travel aren't shown plainly in the picture for those were the days when the original bicycle consisted mostly of a vehicle with a large wheel over which the driver sat, which was attached to a smaller wheel in the rear by either a solid bar of steel or a metal tubing known as the "backbone".
The wheeling machine described was the forerunner of a bicycle, few of which were ever seen in Leavenworth. It was one having the small wheel in front, seat above the larger wheel, and the pedals, instead of revolving, propelled the machine by a pedal or pump handle action.
The present style of bicycle, which was just making its appearance in this portion of the country about 1865, did not prove popular. The L.A.W. wheelmen dubbed it a "girl's" machine.
The wheelmen pictured in the back row, left to right, are Joe Barnes, Ned Jewett, W.W. Hooper, Robert Yoakum, John Schmelzer, Henry Flynn, Frank Root.
In the middle row are Frank Morrow, Jimmie Hayner (then superintendent of the Y.M.C.A.,) small boy unknown, and Harry Seckler.
In the front row are Harry Varney, August Schott, boy unknown, and Logan Varney. Some old timers, when questioned say the unknown boy in the front row is Louis Wulfekuhler.
(picture shows a group of men in front of tree--published in 1951)