When he reached Chicago on July 29th, he
went to the Fowler Manufacturing Company. "I was soon on the
elevator headed for the office on the top floor. I entered it with
myself and my wheel covered with mud. They were pleased to know
that I had ridden one of their wheels, and my wheel was put in the
window of their retail store on Dearborn Street, mud and all, with a
card reading 'Ridden by W. H. Sheneman from Seattle, Washington to
Chicago, IL, a distance of 2,176.25 miles without a break. The wheel
weighs 22 pounds.' The wheel stood in the window for two days, and
there was a large crowd around this window all the time. I was
taken to a first class hotel and orders were given to keep me as long as
I wished to stay, that the Fowler Company would pay the bills."
The Fowler officials also offered to give Will a
new bicycle in exchange for his old one. At first he refused to
part with the wheel that was like an old friend, but the next day he
accepted their offer to pick out any wheel he wanted in return for his.
They also provided him with a bicycle suit, pants, coat, sweater and
cap. Thus attired, and on his new bike, he went to the Howe Studio
on Paulina Street to have a
cabinet photo made. It seems he reached his expectation of
becoming thinner since he doesn't look like a "200 hundred pounder" in
In the west he average about 40 miles a day, but
in Nebraska he "made a run of 94 miles, my biggest one yet."
He had sent regular dispatches to the Marysville Tribune, signing
himself "Roving Boy." As he wheeled his bike up the path to his
brother's home at Sheneman's Corners west of Pharisburg on August 10th,
he was hot and tired, but elated at finishing what he had started nearly
two months before. My mother, who had celebrated her sixth
birthday the day before, never tired of relating the joy of that day
when "Uncle Will came home!"
When asked if he intended to make the return trip
on a bike, his answer was "No, I never intend to cross the Rocky
Mountains and the sandy desert again on a bicycle. I think anyone
who makes the trip once will not be anxious to repeat it when it can be
made just as cheap by rail in less than five days."
As good as his word, Uncle Will's next trip was
made by train in 1897, across the continent and back with his uncle,
George Wash Mackling. I'm editing a book that will include his
published articles, and will introduce my great uncle to a new audience.
Every family should have an "Uncle Will."
William Henry Sheneman
November 23, 1856 - April 11, 1921