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The Peoria Bicycle Club

“A Brief History of Peoria” by Democratic State Central Committee? 1896.
Transcribed by Genealogy Trails Staff

 

 

by J. L. Misner

 

    The Peoria Bicycle Club was organized January 25, 1881, and joined the League of American Wheelmen October 9, 1881, and has continued its membership ever since, which makes it one of the oldest League clubs in the country, its present position being ninth.

    The headquarters of the club, at present, are located in the large and comfortable Club House, corner of Jefferson avenue and Fayette street. The membership, however, having more than doubled since the first of the year, even this place has become cramped, and plans and specifications have been secured for a fine new and modern brick Club House of ample proportions, which will be as handsome in its outward appearance and as complete in its interior appointments as any similar edifice in the country, ground for which will be broken, probably, as early as August next.

    The unequalled success of the tournaments given by the club in 1889, 1890, and 1891 brought it at once into an enviable prominence.  During those years Peoria in the West and Springfield. Mass., in the East were looked to for all broken records and all cycling surprises.  On the Peoria Club's track Zimmerman first defeated Windle, then "King of the Path," and here the Englishman Laurie first showed the great west what a pneumatic tire could do.  After resting on its laurels for a few years the Peoria Bicycle Club this year proposes to resume its proud position among the great race meet promoters, and on June 25, 26 and 27 (convention week) will give a series of bicycle races that will eclipse anything ever seen in the West.

 

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The Peoria Agricultural & Trotting Society

From the Standard Atlas of Peoria City and County, Illinois (Geo. A. Ogle & Co., Publishers & Engravers,Chicago, 1896), p. 121

 

    Peoria can now lay claim to having the finest racing track in the West, so far as beautify of location, ease of access and careful construction are concerned.  This is the result of earnest work on the part of half a dozen individuals.

    The need of such an enterprise was long felt and the matter had been agitated several times, but the plea was always made that ground for the track could not be had within easy distance of the city, owing to the broken nature of the bluffs.  Finally the matter was brought to the attention of E. F. Baldwin, and he began a series of articles in the Peoria Herald, showing that there was not only one such spot, but no less than five, all possible sites.  Day after day he argued in the columns of the Herald, showing first one desirable point and then another, until public opinion was aroused, and a meeting called to talk the matter over.  At this meeting, which was held in the fall of 1894, a committee was appointed to perfect an organization, and Robert M. Cox became interested.  Mr. Cox is a large property owner, an old resident, and a public spirited man.  He took an active interest in the matter from the start.  Several times it would have fallen through, if he had not come to its rescue, and with his purse and influence saved it.  When the organization was perfected he was chosen the President.

    Not less fortunate were the members in their choice of the Secretary, Mr. D. W. Voorhees, Jr.  Mr. Voorhees is a member of the firm of Luthy & Co., having long been the Vice-President of that institution, one of the strongest agricultural firms in the West.  He became interested in the organization of the race track, and labored with the utmost enthusiasm and diligence to bring the enterprise to a successful issue.  His labors and those of his fellows were crowned with success, and on the 2d of April the committee were instructed to negotiate for the grounds.  What is known as "The Allaire Farm," consisting of sixty acres, were purchased, and with these, sixty acres, belonging to John Hines, Esq., were added.  Twenty acres were cut off from this, divided into lots and sold by Theo. J. Miller, E. F. Baldwin and others, the money received from the sale going to erect the buildings on the fair grounds.

    In the meantime Mr. John D. Bush became interested and took a large block of the stock so that with his example, there was no difficulty in organizing a stock company of Fifty Thousand dollars.  Mr. Bush was chosen Vice-President.  He has lived all his life in Peoria and is a large property owner, an energetic, public spirited and successful business man.  Mr. H. H. Fahnestock was elected treasurer.  Mr. Fahnestock is a leading wholesale grocer and has always been distinguished for his public spirit, his financial skill and his zeal.  Mr. Schnellbacher is the head of the well known shoe house.  M. Theodore J. Miller has already been mentioned.  He is one of the most popular, enthusiastic and whole-souled men in the city of Peoria.  It is to his negotiations that the Association was enabled to obtain the grounds which they now occupy, and which are not surpassed in beauty by anything in the west.  He labored for weeks to locate the fair grounds and to sell the lots so that it would be a success.  Added to these were Mr. Warren Buckley, a well known grain dealer and business man.  The enterprise was successfully launched with a fall meeting.  A heavy rain fell while the track was still soft and prevented its being so great a success as had been anticipated but under careful management of Mr. Voorhees, the secretary, the society made the initial meeting a financial success, and they have arranged for future entertainments in this line so that the Peoria Fair Grounds have been successfully inaugurated and the future cannot but meet with the happiest results.

    The management are all representative men, none of them are actuated by mercenary motives, but they have put into it their time and the money solely to give the people of Peoria a place where they can witness trials of speed and contests for supremacy without anything to detract from the pleasure of the time.

 

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All data on this website is © Copyright by Genealogy Trails with full rights reserved for original submitters.