Monday, June 11, 2012

Oklahoma Freewheel

Many decorated bikes were placed throughout Frederick to celebrate Oklahoma Freewheel.

Yea! Oklahoma Freewheel!

Launch of the 2012 Oklahoma Freewheel Bicycle Tour in Frederick last Saturday was, by all accounts, a huge success.
Hundreds of visitors were in Frederick that day for ceremonies that officially kicked off the south-to-north border-to-border bicycle tour. The riders camped in tents set up around the courthouse square and on Pioneer Townsite Museum grounds, they stayed in area hotels and churches, and they overnighted at numerous permanent and temporary RV camping sites (which included the high school parking lot!).
The bike riders all left Frederick, heading northward, in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Route for the annual race changes each year. This is the first year that Freewheel has come through Frederick.
The Freewheelers are great group of people, and we in Frederick hope they all return soon with family and friends to spend some time in our town
Enormous credit goes to the Frederick Chamber of Commerce, Chamber director Sharon Bennett, and the planning committee of community volunteers who worked tirelessly for weeks to ensure that the Freewheelers would see, experience, and love Frederick.
I think they succeeded!

At the Pioneer Townsite Museum…
Most Tillman County Historical Society Board members worked all day Saturday at the Pioneer Townsite, serving as hosts to the museum’s many visitors. All museum buildings were open, and TCHS board members and volunteers sold welcome treats of pie and ice cream to happy visitors.
I worked my regular post in the red barn that day, explaining the Roosevelt-Abernathy story and related exhibit.
A few visitors knew all about the story of President Theodore Roosevelt’s visit to Frederick in 1905, the famous wolf-hunting skills of Jack “Catch ‘em Alive” Abernathy, and the remarkable feats of Abernathy’s two sons, Bud and Temple.
The stories were new to most visitors, though, who were fascinated by the larger-than-life accomplishments of these early pioneers and historical figures.
As always, the attraction in the Pioneer Townsite’s Roosevelt-Abernathy exhibit that most fascinated visitors was our 1910 Brush Runabout Automobile.
Runabout from 1912 Brush publication (Source, Wikipedia Commons)
Although it is not the same car that Bud and Temple Abernathy drove from New York City to Oklahoma in 1910, the car at our museum is a genuine, restored two-seater 1910 Brush Runabout that is painted bright red – just like the boys’ car.
When visitors see the car, questions abound – “Where did they buy gasoline on the trip?” “How many miles to the gallon did this car get?” “What were roads like in those days?” I do not have the answer to every question, but I field all questions as well as I can.
It is important to remember that the automobile was a relatively new technology that was sweeping America in the first decade of the 20th Century, and it was changing the way that Americans lived. The Brush, which was known especially for its ability to climb well and navigate in mud, was manufactured in Detroit and the company used the 1910 New York to Oklahoma automobile trip by 10-year-old Bud and six-year-old Temple Abernathy extensively in company advertising for at least a couple of years.
No doubt about it… The Brush was a remarkable car!

The Brush Runabout
A 1909 letter to the Brush Automobile Company by Dr. I.D. Jones of Murdock, Nebraska, tells the story of the Brush Runabout that he owned and the ways that the automobile changed his life and affected the lives of others.
[NOTE: Murdock is a small town in northwest Nebraska. The following letter written by Dr. Jones in 1908 was featured in the town’s online newsletter at on May 11, 2011]. 
Brush Runabout Company:
   Please allow me to thank you for the new cylinder head you sent me to replace the one that has a small leak.  I, however, do not think I will put it in, as the motor is doing all I wish it to and more.
   There has not been a horse in my stable this summer and the Brush has done all my work; besides the pleasure work for the family, which has been no small amount. I have driven it some 110 miles.  The last two weeks we have been attending a chautaqua at Ashland, Nebraska, 14 miles away coming back the same night.  We made the trip in about an hour one way, sometimes less.
   A child five miles in the country took poison last week. The Brush got me out there and I was washing the stomach in 20 minutes. Had I depended on a team as hot as it was, the baby could not have been saved.  How is that? I run from 16 to 22 miles with one gallon of gasoline according to the roads.
   I have been caught in the rains, but with ropes on the wheels went along faster than a horse could go.  That blessed little engine has never stopped for me on the road. I have never had to put on any repairs and it has not cost me a penny for repairs. All that has ever been done to it is to tighten the brake rods and the chains.
   I think I can honestly say that it is as much better than the horse is better than going on foot.
   I wish also to thank you fellows for making that frame the way that you do, using those half-inch bolts in it, and for riveting them down. It is the (?) machine I ever saw. I don't believe the devil could break the damn thing.
   I hit the shed so hard one time with it one day, raised it off the foundation.
   There are other nice things that I could say about it but time forbids.  I remain.

                                  Yours Very Truly,

                   Dr. I.D. Jones
                   Murdock, Cass County, Nebraska

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