The Women

Photo Credit: Alice Roepke Collection

Photo Credit: Alice Roepke Collection 

Photo Credit: Alice Roepke Collection 

Tillie Anderson

The greatest of the 1890s women riders was, without question, Tillie Anderson, “The Terrible Swede,” who compiled a record of 109-11. A former laundry worker and seamstress, Tillie embraced professional athletics like no other. She trained year around and was particularly proud of her strength and strategic racing. Here she proudly displays some of her medals. Indeed, Tillie was careful to cultivate the image of the undisputed champion of the sport. Unlike most of the others, Tillie was not known for her good looks. “Good boy, Tillie,” was a frequent call from the crowd.

Lizzie Glaw

Lizzie Glaw, a German immigrant who, like Tillie, lived in Chicago and, also like Tillie, first hit the scene as a local “century rider” in 1895. Sullen personally and dogged on the track, Lizzie was regularly booed by nativist crowds. The only racer to beat Tillie more than once in a full six-day race, Lizzie managed it seven times.

Dottie "Red Bird" Farnworth

Dottie “Red Bird” Farnsworth, from Minneapolis, was unusual in coming from a prominent American family. Trained in the theater, Dottie charmed the crowds and basked in their adulation—sometimes to her competitive detriment. She was a great sprinter, but not a great strategist. She finished second more than anyone else, and she often complained of ill treatment.

Photo Credit: Alice Roepke Collection 

Photo Credit: Alice Roepke Collection 

Photo Credit: Alice Roepke Collection 

Helen "Beauty" Baldwin

Helen “Beauty” Baldwin with two of her cycling club friends. Helen made the transition from the high-wheel days of the late 1880s to the “safety” era of the 1890s. Known for her grace and beauty, Helen was a crowd favorite in every town she appeared.

"Baby" May Allen

“Baby” May Allen started high-wheel racing along with her best friend Helen Baldwin in their hometown of Pittsburgh in November 1888. After high-wheel racing died out in 1892-93, May joined Helen in Madden’s 1895 races and became a fixture on the circuit. She’d raced in England in 1890, so for publicity purposes she became identified with the British and frequently wore a Union Jack sash

Frankie Nelson

Former high-wheel champion Frankie Nelson, who won a couple of Madden’s races in the summer of 1895 to help get the new era started. She went on to win the ill-fated Madison Square Garden race in January 1896, but she soon found she couldn’t keep up with the younger generation of riders.


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