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What’s in a Name?

May 18, 2011

The Brighton Bicycle Club was the first cycling social club in Cincinnati. The club was formed on April 11, 1878, although it’s very possible that the group of founding members were already riding together in the evenings and on their free Sundays.  I am still trying to discover the original club roster, but it is known for sure that the inaugral membership included Harry C.G. Ellard, Joseph Klein, Edward Mulhauser, Alvin Smith, H. Kessler Smith, and William Windisch. Harry C.G Ellard is credited with creating the club. He would have been around 19 years old when the club was formed. At this time he lived with his parents in a house on Freeman Street in the Brighton neighborhood.  Its possible that this house still stands on the block between Findlay and York, but with the street renumbering that happened in the late 1890’s I’ve been unable to locate it exactly. Some of the other members whose names are associated with the club at a later date, but who may have been present at the innauguration, are James and John Barclay, Herman Bumiller, and Wm. Theodore Buckner.  Each of these members lived within just a few blocks of Harry.  They were neighbors he would see on the street. The fraternity of the wheel would have inevitably led to them making an acquaintance. With the exception of James and John Barclay and Alvin and H. Kessler Smith they were all of German stock.  William Windisch and Edward Mulhauser, who owned the Windisch-Muhlhauser brewery just down the street from Harry on the corner of Liberty and Plum would have been the older patrons of the club.  It’s interesting that the common denominator here is the bicycle and cultural background rather than social class. Regardless, this social club became a strongly knit group of men who spent the next several decades together on the wheel. Even after many years had passed they still looked back upon their years on the wheel with fondness with occasional reunions complete with slides shows, beer, and live bands. Newspaper’s of the time referred to them as the “Jolly Brighton Boys,” and it seems they used their time on the wheel to have great fun.

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