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Court Edwards - Unicyclist Supreme

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  • #16

    Humbolt Room Photograph Collection

    Collection: Swanlund-Baker
    Photo ID: 1999.01.0356
    Author/Creator: Baker, Ray Jerome
    Date: 1907?
    Title: Court Edwards and his Unicycle - about 1907 in Sequoia Park

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    • #17
      Wow!

      Los Angeles HeraldDec 7 1910

      That she is opposed to wearing fleshlings and appearing on a vaudeville circuit as a trick bicycle rider is an assertion made yesterday by Mrs. Geni Edwards, who is seeking a divorce from C. P. Edwards, a wheel performer. She charges desertion.

      The case was called before Judge Conrey of the superior court, who was told by Mrs. Edwards that she and her husband were married in Eureka, Cal., in 1906. He was a bicycle performer and he wanted his wife to become one also and travel with him. When She objected from the standpoint of modesty he deserted her, she alleges, and took with him another woman who was willing to wear tights.

      Judge Conrey continued the action until depositions from Eureka could be obtained.

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      • #18
        Great sleuthing, Vertigo!
        Originally posted by Vertigo View Post
        Humbolt Room Photograph Collection

        Collection: Swanlund-Baker
        Photo ID: 1999.01.0356
        Author/Creator: Baker, Ray Jerome
        Date: 1907?
        Title: Court Edwards and his Unicycle - about 1907 in Sequoia Park
        glass 8x10 in very good b & w photographic negative
        Beautiful photo from an 8"x10" glass negative, hundreds of megapixels even scanning at a modest resolution. I'm still not completely sure what he's got going on with the handlebar mounts though. And it doesn't quite look like a Brooks logo on the saddle in that photo.

        Originally posted by Vertigo View Post
        He was a bicycle performer and he wanted his wife to become one also and travel with him. When She objected from the standpoint of modesty he deserted her, she alleges, and took with him another woman who was willing to wear tights.
        Probably a deal breaker for me too.

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        • #19
          This set me off looking at board track motorcycle racing articles, something I'd heard a little bit about before. It was an odd blip in entertainment history, very popular for a short time, very exciting, and very deadly. It looks like the accident that killed Court Edwards was widely reported but just one of many around the country, and the tracks were all shut down within a few years.

          The motorcycles were glorified bicycles that went 100 mph with no brakes and no throttle on most, just a kill switch to temporarily cut the ignition, and are very much valued by collectors these days. It was Darwin Award stuff not too long after Darwin's passing, and hell yeah I'd ride one.
          Attached Files

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          • #20
            Thanks. It's been fun. I found so many interesting articles that weren't related to this topic.

            Here's something I found about the Motordrome.

            Riverview Stadium Motordrome - Chicago, Illinois
            Opened 8 July 1911 / built in an amusement park named Riverview Exposition Park / this was located in between what is now West Addison Street, North Western Avenue, West Belmont Avenue and the Chicago River / this site is now occupied by DeVry University and Lane Technical High School / three riders crashed fatally at the motordrome / amateur George Nelson in July 1911, a few days before the track was of cially opened / rider Court Edwards in September 1912 / and nally rider Leon
            Pitts in May 1913 / the last known race took place in June 1913 / this was a 1/3-mile circle reportedly banked at 45
            degrees / built by Jack Prince / aka Riverview Exposition Stadium Motordrome / aka Riverview Park Motordrome

            Also I found out his full name is Courtland P. Edwards and was born Jan. 1876 in Kansas. He had five or six siblings.

            There are several earlier articles in a Topeka news paper about bike races he was in when he lived in Kansas.

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            • #21
              To get a perspective on what the roads were like back then, that is if they even existed, look up 'Horatio's Drive'. The story of the first coast to coast drive in 1903.

              Its probably safe to say that Court was riding muni about 80 years before George Peck.

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              • #22
                Court "disappeared", Another one wheeler turns up, then Court reappears

                The Bicycling World and Motorcycle ReviewMay 14, 1910The Bicycling World and Motorcycle ReviewMay 28, 1910The Bicycling World and Motorcycle ReviewJune 18, 1910
                Motorcycle Teaches Edwards New Trick

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Universe View Post
                  To get a perspective on what the roads were like back then, that is if they even existed, look up 'Horatio's Drive'. The story of the first coast to coast drive in 1903.

                  Its probably safe to say that Court was riding muni about 80 years before George Peck.
                  Yes, I'd say that some sort of muni has been around much longer than George Peck. I found another account of long distance riding.

                  June 8, 1888
                  Mr. C. C. Hopkins, the famous unicycle rider, started from Denver, Col., June 3rd, to ride to Columbus, Ohio. His mount is a 54-inch Apollo.
                  Also, there were unicycle races in the late 1880's. I found several entries concerning unicyclist trying to break the mile record.

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                  • #24
                    Dan Green

                    Holbrook News - Sep 30, 1910

                    SCARE LOOSEN'S MAN'S TEETH

                    Saw a Half-breed Indian on Unicycle and Thought it Was a Devil

                    Bridgeport, Conn. Frederick Barber-went
                    out on his milk route at the
                    usual time in the morning, but he
                    came back to town so fast that all bis
                    milk was Jolted out, his hair formed
                    Into a sort of electric pompadour, he
                    loosened eight teeth by chattering, and
                    his knees were badly bruised ami
                    abralsed by knocking together.
                    He told of seeing a frightful appari
                    tion, which came out of a pink-edged
                    cloud and rode a big rubber tired
                    wheel "like the devil outraclng a
                    comet, and its terrible yells split the
                    air into open seams."
                    Investigation proved that Barber's
                    apparition was none other than Dan
                    Green, a half-breed Sioux Indian, who
                    was riding from Boston to New York
                    on a $500 wager.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Vertigo View Post
                      Yes, I'd say that some sort of muni has been around much longer than George Peck. I found another account of long distance riding.
                      Before the turn of the century, I don't think there were many paved roads outside of cities. Anybody that did long rides probably rode plenty of dirt, even if it was in the form of a road.

                      Pioneering cross country riders like Court Edwards (though I guess we don't know if he completed his big ride) may also have ridden places that didn't have proper roads, or possibly even trails.

                      I don't know that what we now call Muni was a "thing" before mountain biking was a thing. That's a relatively recent development as well. Though I assume there were people doing it for fun before the 1970s, there's little record of it. While George Peck wasn't the first to focus on dirt unicycling, he did a couple of crucial things. He may have been one of the first unicyclists to concentrate most of his riding on non-paved surfaces, and more importantly, he was the first to make an instructuinal movie about it, and share it with the world, which got loads of other people motivated to do it also. I started promoting off-road unicycling (what I then called UMX, to pick up on the BMX craze of the time) in 1981, but didn't make any videos; just articles in the Unicycling Society of America Newsletter. Definitely not the same impact.
                      Originally posted by Vertigo
                      Also, there were unicycle races in the late 1880's. I found several entries concerning unicyclist trying to break the mile record.
                      Do any say what record they were trying to break? Probably faster than today's times, since we limit ourselves to 24" wheels on the track. I remember an article from 1886 or so, that talks about an hour record attempt/ride with a distance of 14.88 miles, if I remember correctly.

                      I'm loving all this research, and how Court Edwards, and others, are being reconstructed from bits and pieces of news clippings from over 100 years ago!
                      Last edited by johnfoss; 2017-09-04, 05:18 AM.
                      John Foss
                      www.unicycling.com

                      "Who is going to argue with a mom who can ride a unicycle?" -- Forums member "HiMo"

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                      • #26
                        Hi Vertigo

                        This is great investigative work by you. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Court Edwards' unicycle exploits. Very sad end though, for the poor man.

                        Thanks for posting.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          1880's & 1890's

                          From The Bearings - 1893
                          Harry Parks, the trick rider who rode down Pike's Peak on a unicycle, has been managing the bicycle department of the Henry Sears Co., Chicago, for some time and has made many friends.

                          There are many more references to unicycle records in the 1880's and 1890's.
                          Here's an example.

                          From The Wheel - 1887


                          Perhaps this is what they mean when they say "unicycle".


                          From The Bearing - 1893

                          A Bit of the Fancy

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                          • #28
                            Riding to school

                            One more ...


                            Salt Lake Herald - 1906
                            Salt Lake City Boy Rides Daily to and From School On Unicycle
                            Curtis Allen and His Wheel.
                            Probably the only boy in the country who rides a unicycle daily to and from school and round the streets, preferring it to a bicycle, is Curtis Allen of Salt Lake. He is 15 years old and is taking preparatory course in the Training department of the Later-day Saints' college.

                            "I saw a man at one of the local theaters riding one," he said when asked how he started the habit. "I went home and thought That I could build one. I made it from an old bicycle. I have two of them now, with a third being made."

                            His principle reason for riding one was "just for the fun of it."

                            "I dislocated one finger in learning to ride," he said, "but in several weeks I was able to ride without much trouble and now I can do several stunts with it."

                            In comparison with a bicycle he said that the one-wheeled machine was much easier to work and that this was especially noticeable in going up hills.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Vertigo View Post
                              Perhaps this is what they mean when they say "unicycle".
                              At the time, I think it applied to anything with one wheel, pedals, and the rider on top. A lot of those early racers and performers were using the "raw" form of an Ordinary with the frame removed, which meant handlebars, but no seat at all.

                              From The Bearing - 1893
                              That article references "Kaufman", which probably refers to Nick Kaufman, who many consider to be the "father" of Artistic Bicycling (Kunstradfahren). I learned this from the program book at the 1982 Indoor Cycling World Championships, which had a page or two devoted to him. He was a professional performer, who came to Germany from Rochester, NY, and had a big influence on the people who eventually developed Kunstradfahren as a formal sport. It's crazy hard what they do! Our unicycling version of that sport is called Standard Skill. Boring to watch, but a great way to perfect Freestyle-type skills.
                              Last edited by johnfoss; 2017-09-05, 03:31 AM.
                              John Foss
                              www.unicycling.com

                              "Who is going to argue with a mom who can ride a unicycle?" -- Forums member "HiMo"

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                What a fantastic thread! Thanks for all the contributions. I'm a fellow unicyclist and cornet player, so it was particularly interesting to me.
                                I'm not short, I'm just really far away.

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